Events in Ferguson have put racism and violence into the spotlight recently and it is a good thing that people are speaking about it. I live on the other side of the planet so, while I am aware of the story, I have not followed it very closely but growing up in South Africa it is unfortunately something all too familiar to me.
I am in my mid-thirties now so I am too young to really have understood the apartheid era but I am young enough to be able to have witnessed the pain, hurt, fear and hatred left in its aftermath. In all honesty, I still know a lot of racist people on both sides of the fence. The healing process has being slowed by language and cultural differences (as well as mans desire for power and other bad things) and most churches today remain as segregated as ever. In my opinion; most of the progress that has taken place has come through the public schools and work places where intermingling first allowed us to get to know one another as people and then as friends.
For myself, it's natural to see from the white perspective. As a minority (8.9% of the population) you worry about your kids when you see popular politicians sing songs like "Shoot the Boer". The EFF who received 6.4% of the votes in our 2014 elections are pretty forward about their position as the photos below demonstrate.
But as a Jesus follower, I am forced to look at things from the other side as well. People don't just wake up bitter, society and circumstances have made them that way. It is not enough to say, "Well I am not part of the problem, I have friends of various color whom I love dearly and our church is a healthy mix". It is not good enough and that is what I am only now beginning to realize. As a Jesus follower, we need to be more like the Good Samaritan, the 'half breed' who contributed to the solution by seeing 'the enemy', someone who probably would not have treated him in the same manner, as his neighbor. He went out of his way to bring healing to that person and reconciliation between two different people groups. Exactly how contributing to a solution may look is still a bit unclear to me but it is something I am working on. One of my favorite verses in the bible is at the beginning of Galatians 6 where it says "Bear one anothers burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ". I have realized that most of my friends of color and in our house church are still in my same 'class bracket', Not a good thing. Walking with our heads in the clouds when people are hurting on the ground perhaps does not make us so neutral after all. Let us consider others over ourselves starting with the least of them, where it is most inconvenient and uncomfortable. Only love can break the cycle of violence and hate.
This post is part of the September synchroblog based on race and violence. Check out the other bloggers writing about Race, Violence, and Why We Need to Talk About It:
Jeremy Myers – It’s the White Man’s Fault! It’s the Black Man’s Fault!
Wendy McCaig – Race, Violence, and a Silent White America
Glenn Hager – Can We Even Talk About Racial Issues?
Carol Kuniholm – Who is Allowed to Vote?
Sarah Quezada – Race, Violence, and the Airport Immigration Agent
Kathy Escobar – We Have a Dream
Liz Dyer – Why are American Churches Still So Racially Segregated?
Loveday Anyim Snr – The Dangers of Racism and Violence on the Society
Juliet Birkbeck – Remembering Voices of Hatred