I am a human being whom God chose to birth with white skin. In his wisdom, God also chose that I live in this glorious nation, which remains a beacon for those who seek freedom and prosperity. I did not choose my color or my nation, but I am proud of both for they are what God chose for me so that I could fulfill His mission here on earth. I am also thankful and honored to share this country with other human beings, who God made with other glorious skin tones, to fulfill His mission here are earth. None is more important than any other and all an equal part of God’s plan for mankind. It is with that thought that my defining people by race begins and ends.
In my life I have worked with thousands of unserved and underserved individuals. Through these relationships, I saw quite clearly how similar and interconnected we all are as human beings. All people want the same things out of life. We all have the same desires and dreams. We all want a safe neighborhood, safe schools for our children, economic opportunity, and equal justice under the law. It pains me to see people of color, my spiritual brothers, and sisters, in such collective pain. Is the source of their pain racism or something less apparent, yet hiding in plain sight?
Hatred, like all maladies of the human condition, comes from within not without. Human nature is such that we project our inner state outward and blame external conditions for our pain and predicaments rather than taking personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions. While the killing of Mr. Floyd was tragic and unjustified, it is how we internalize and react to tragedy that not only defines us but determines our destiny. Hatred is not reserved for white people alone.
Make no mistake the mask wearing, social distancing and closing of our houses of worship have had a profoundly negative effect on us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are social beings and our connection to one another is our life blood. The masks and social distancing contribute not only to physical but psychological separation and allow suspicion, anger, and hatred to fester and grow. The closing of our houses of worship has denied us the daily or weekly communal cleansing of our hearts and minds and the celebration of our unity in God that is so essential to our spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological health.
In this state of disconnect, we lash out and blame others who are different, others who have what we desire and others, who we believe, have denied us our share, or caused our suffering. As human beings, we cannot help but see a divided world-black and white, mine and yours, good and evil and so on. Whatever side we are on is always desirable and the other is always to blame. While I am not saying that injustice and bigotry do not exist, I am saying that once we understand that they are a part of the universal human condition and rooted in fear we can begin the healing.
Demonizing an entire race of people for all the ills of society is not going to heal anything. Demanding that others sacrifice their God given rights to appease an angry mob or that they kneel or wash feet in apology is ungodly and will seal a tragic end to our story. I will gladly kneel with anyone to ask God’s blessing for our troubled society, but no one should kneel before another because no man is the master of another. Dr. Martin Luther King knew that violence only begets more violence and that we cannot overcome an obstacle by meeting it on its level, rather, we must transcend it. To transcend something, we must leave it behind. Perpetual discussion only leads to more division, acrimony, anger, and mistrust. The healing process must not create new grievances. When we finally do heal, it will be because the parties had the courage to leave the past and begin again.
So how do we leave the pain of yesterday behind us? We must begin with a sincere intention to forgive and our full attention on building a better tomorrow. Understanding the power of forgiveness is a great first step. Remembering the soothing feeling of God’s forgiveness when we err, should enable, even the most embittered among us, to offer forgiveness to others for their missteps. Forgiveness borne of gratitude and Truth is the only path forward.
Healing by forgiveness is quite simple but requires a practice and discipline. It requires us to take responsibility for our anger, fear, rejection and grief and remember that we are all branches of the same tree, all children of one Creator, each with a special purpose that requires the other. We must remember that God’s ways are not our ways and to God all lives do matter. Each has a special purpose. We must resist the temptation to react in anger. We must step back when confronted with situations that inflame our passions and remember our commitment to forgiveness and to building a better tomorrow. We must remember that peace achieved through conflict does not last and that lasting peace only comes from forgiveness, love, and acceptance.
So, please do not add my skin color to any description of me ever again and I will so honor you as well. Let us reflect on the nature of our personal relationships with people of other colors whether that person be a work colleague, a friend, neighbor or perhaps even our spouse. My bet is that, like mine, these relationships are positive and enrich our lives. So, let us go forward seeing the Truth about one another -that we are each a divine being cloaked in humanity. As such, we are capable of greatness and equally capable of misdeeds. In short, each exactly like the other. In so doing, we will feel safe to unclench our fists and extend an open hand and open heart to one another in peace.