“Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us?”
— Malachi 2:10.
Regardless of status, Proverbs 22:2 reveals that “Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.” Those who believe that they deserve special treatment under the law or societal customs should pay heed to Scripture. Note the words of Peter in Acts 10:34-35, “I now realize that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” In Revelation 7:9, we find words about the final judgment scene, “There before me was a great multitude, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Obviously, the thoughts in this column are influenced by the messages in Scripture coupled with the laws of this land that ensure equality.
Questions this week have been about the issues of racism and injustice that divide our country. People tend to think of race as a group of people who are defined as having specific characteristics. This way of defining groups of people creates the impression that all people from a race are alike and limits individuality. Some people still think of racism as not liking or distrusting people who are different. But racism and extreme racial injustice have been problematic in America for centuries.
The history of our country includes episodes of racial injustice for some groups. Native Americans were labeled as heathens. Their culture was never understood or appreciated. The occupation of their land was unjust. Over the years, many Native Americans were resettled and forced into harmful living arrangements.
People from Africa who were enslaved were treated with a total disregard for their culture, beliefs and human rights.
History has also recorded the mistreatment of Jewish people and Catholics that was based mostly on religious differences.
Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II were denied their rights as citizens.
The inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, especially children, at our borders violates the law granting asylum in this land of immigrants. We cannot change history, but we can move forward by eliminating biased judgments and acts. The process of reconciliation can begin when legal and human rights are upheld.
Social protest stems from the facts that people are mistreated and harmed by officials. People with serious needs are being ignored. Some officials are attempting to limit or eliminate the right to vote in their state. People are being shot, hanged, beaten and suffocated. Most who are affected by these unjust acts are Americans of color. Yes, all lives matter, but black and brown lives are being targeted. The Department of Justice should be protecting the rights of all citizens.
Why do people continue to dislike those from different races, ethnic backgrounds, religions and gender? Some people are suspicious and distrustful. These characteristics might seem harmless, but they can be motives for bad behavior. They need to be replaced with kindness and respect. Serious problems arise when bad instincts are coupled with hatred that comes from a sense of privilege or superiority. Hatred is a worm that bores into the mind and heart with tragic results. We find good advice in 1 John 2:11. “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness. They do not know where they are going because the darkness has blinded them.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
— Nelson Mandela
We can hope that Mandela was right about the natural instinct of the human heart to love. We need to hope that enough people of all backgrounds and beliefs will let love overcome hate. The words in 1 John 4:8 are insightful, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
— Philippians 2:3-4