Charlottesville: Racism’s Blind Eye

charlThe year was 1963, and it was the first time I saw the ugly face of racial prejudice.  It happened while we were vacationing in the South and had spent the night at a relative’s house.

When we were about to leave the next morning, I heard my Dad’s cousin say:  Now Eddie, about 10 miles South of here you’ll go through a little town.  Everybody that lives there is a N–. If one of those worthless black N– walks out in front of your car, just run over them.  No need to stop–it’s just a N!

Even though I was just 10, I knew the hate-filled words of Dad’s cousin were reprehensible. Anyone who can run over another human being and leave him to die in the road has been seduced by his unrighteous rage. It was Gandhi who said: An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. 

If you know anything about history, you know that far too many people have been blinded by hatred and prejudice.  A record of these misguided emotions can be seen in the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England.  A graphic portrayal of the devastation of generations of enslaved men, women, and children is displayed. Etched into one wall of the museum are the words of Frederick Douglass, former slave and crusader for human rights:  “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”

When one segment of society brutalizes another, it is an attack on humanity as a whole.

Each of use have a circle of influence, and we need to do what we can do to right wrongs.  A clear teaching of the New Testament is the power of love when it is shared, and we are told that love covers a multitude of sin (I Peter 4:8).

The prose of Sam Levenson offers sublime suggestions on what each of us can do to change the world in which we live, and they are a fitting conclusion to this discussion.

For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

To the people of Charlottesville: Walk with the knowledge that you are not alone. I am one among the thousands who are praying for you and for peace to prevail.

 

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