Last night our Rachel texted me with news that a small plane had made an emergency landing along the edge of one of our local interstates. It clipped a car in landing, but no injuries and whew…but still…
What the heck?
And all of this knowing Russ had just buckled himself into the seat of a much larger plane for the flight from O’Hare to Springfield.
Life comes rapid fire these days, doesn’t it?
And for me I am often left sitting on the sidelines of the latest surge of chaos, trying to sort through all the thoughts that run through my head as I try to make sense of much that will never really make sense in this fallen world.
I keep going over a conversation I had last week with a guy who cleans windows for downtown merchants.
As he does frequently on his stops in our store, he walked in the door talking to me like I was the owner.
True to the pattern of his visits, it wasn’t until he was standing right on the other side of the counter and we had talked for several minutes that he said…”Oh, you aren’t her.”
And then he told me how he knows “you all” think we look alike, but we think the same thing about you.
“You all” being white people.
Awkward pause, right?
Because this gentleman is black and as he stands and makes observations and assumptions about how I think, I flounder with thoughts that I don’t know how to express.
Let me give you the three simultaneous ones that rose up in my head quickly, but thank God did not fly out my mouth last week.
- I don’t think all black people look a like…however I do get some black, some white and some of all races mixed up when I don’t know them well and they have any combination of similarities in their size or facial shape or personality or haircut or whatever.
- I wonder if I were to have said that to him, if he would have perceived me as racist and offensive and what are the ground rules for who can say what?
- What else does he assume about me just because of my race, gender and age?
I was curious and perplexed and have mulled this whole thing over since it happened.
Racial tension and the offensive/defensive postures it creates is a huge elephant in the living room of our culture today.
While I do not understand the violence and the anger, I have to acknowledge and accept the truth I have not experienced the issues which have created the turmoil.
I do cringe when I look at old text books and even encyclopedias that feature eager young students and see only one race represented. Mine.
I notice things like photos from events in the history of a company or even vintage greeting cards feature only white people.
I watch a documentary on Jackie Robinson and hear the ugly words and realize this all happened a short decade before I was born and I feel ill.
I see film of the activities of the Klan and I die a thousand deaths of fear and pain that such hatred existed and to know it still exists.
I remember that it was only forty short years ago people still thought it was okay to segregate between races…at water fountains, on buses, in the military, in schools…in ways we must hang our heads over.
I have heard the crude comments of others who are the same skin color as me, but I have also seen the manipulation of those who would use racial tension as a means to their political ends and the brokenness of all of it leaves me feeling helpless.
I wonder how we embrace the concept that our country was founded on the principle all men are created equal, and yet realize the flaws in the thinking of those who penned those words.
And it leaves me knowing that the richness of my belief that God created us male and female…that He made all the tribes and all the nations…it is in this context that I relate to people, all people, as individuals.
I have to admit I do harbor prejudices based on experience, and understand others have prejudices based on experience, as well.
But when I strive to view each and every person as one created by God, in His image, and ask Him for His mind and heart regarding the encounters of each and every day…when I confront the subtle patterns of the worldview I have been programmed to accept in myself, when I extend grace because I don’t know the experiences that have shaped another person’s viewpoint…and when I realize I am ignorant and I will make mistakes…I become a vessel the Lord can shape and mold and transform.
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwelling, so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us.
In these times of conflict between so many, when a spirit of offense would cause us to seek shelter in a “them versus us” stalemate…may we be people of the Cross.
People who seek the Lord, groping for Him in the midst of these desperate times.
We have been placed in this time and this place to seek Him and we can know with great assurance, no one race…no one person…is left out of this great promise of Him who created us all.