Saturday, August 2, 2014

The obstacles to racial reconciliation -- from both sides

When God laid on my heart a passion for racial reconciliation in the 1970s I knew it would be a tough sell. And despite all the progress that's been made, especially since the early 1990s when it finally came on the evangelical radar screen thanks to the Promise Keepers, it still is today.

One the one side you have political conservatives who want to ignore the history of racism in this country. While I won't call them racists, the reality is that the racism that we needed to fight originated almost exclusively from that side of the fence -- and for the most part they won't confront it because doing so might cost them power. Many display an almost blind hatred for President Obama, and I'm not going to get into just what they say about him.

On the other you have black radicals who still maintain a healthy -- that is, unhealthy -- resentment toward white society because of that history. These people label anyone who doesn't support their desire for authority without relationship and are willing to "cross over" as a "sellout" or "uncle Tom" -- and that includes people like Martin Luther King Jr. and even Nelson Mandela. (As you can imagine, I've heard those a few times.)

Let me say here that I have no patience with either side and no tolerance for anyone who subscribes to either "absolutist" view, and if you try to push either down my throat I will fight you to the death. Because that kind of rhetoric is, and has always been, extremely divisive and compromises the spiritual goals.

For my part, I had to walk away from the African-American community for nearly 20 years and have been dropped as a Facebook friend by about 30 conservatives. Ironically, both sides have pretty much the same attitude in many cases.

You see, reconciliation requires a give-and-take, an ability to say, "Well, perhaps I was wrong about this." It comes from a desire to make things right for everybody, not just "my side"; that "because you are my brother/sister, I want to work this out." I've done this in my life, and there's no better feeling. Regarding someone who doesn't think the way you do as an enemy, especially due to color, long ago became too much of a burden for me to bear, and having laid mine aside I encourage others to do the same.

I have come to see racism as an addiction -- many want to hold onto it because it defines them (which is why ending it has become at times bloody). But as Dr. King always pointed out, the non-violent demonstrations that he spearheaded in the 1950s and '60 kept the bloodletting to a minimum.

Sadly, I still believe that race war is possible in this country, and I was recently accused by some black "radicals" that I'm an apologist for whites -- something that my white friends know to be nonsense. On this one I'm on nobody's side but the LORD's.

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