Dear God,

   Racism and Discrimination are the ugly step-siblings of all that is beautiful in your world.  It seems, when I look through human history, that these siblings are ever-present in human history.

   Why is that?  After all, we were all created in your image: an image of love, grace, creativity, forgiveness, and wonder.  We were all created to be “co-creators” of all that is good and beautiful.  We were all created to help bring wholeness and healing in life when we see brokenness and suffering.

   But somewhere something ugly entered the human soul, and we can’t seem to shake it.  I’ve never seen the Devil (which is why I don’t generally talk about the Devil whispering in our ears) but I certainly have looked into the eyes of evil.  There have been times when I’ve seen those eyes and a chill has run down my spine and I know I need to run.  That evil is violent, predatory, and ugly.  However, most times I’ve seen evil with a smile and a nice set of clothes on.  It’s beguiling, assuring, smooth talking, seductive, popular, and easy to listen to.  That evil calmly convinces me that a person, action, or opinion isn’t really that bad, but if it is bad it’s for a “good reason”.

   Hitler convinced the majority of a great nation to be suspicious of anyone different than what he defined as the good people.  He convinced people that entire groups of people were not deserving of respect or even life.  The list included Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, artists, Catholics, Free Masons, mentally ill, dissenting clergy, disabled people, intellectuals, and others.  He even convinced people that those who simply didn’t agree with Hitler were unpatriotic and expendable.   

   It seems there are several layers to the evils  of racism and discrimination.  The initial evil is that we, or we allow someone, to pit one group against another.  It allows folks to paint over the beautiful complexity of the world with broad brush strokes and allows us to be suspicious of Mexicans, Gays, Liberals, Conservatives, Radicals, Dark-skinned people from other countries, Addicts.  Anyone different from us is fair game.

   The next evil is to look at that group and dismiss several things.  We dismiss that their complaints are real.  We dismiss their culture.  We dismiss that they may be discriminated against.  We dismiss that discrimination really occurs at all because we don’t see it, personally, and maybe there’s a reason some people (i.e., groups of people) are treated differently and that “They may deserve it in some quiet way.”

   The final evil is to be quiet and do nothing.  Since racism or discrimination don’t seem to affect us (or so we think), we minimize how bad it is, rationalize why it can happen, and don’t get involved.  In other words, we accept it.  Edmond Burke is quoted as saying, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

   The Deacons here in your church, Lord, accepted a Resolution on Racism and Discrimination, and the Church Council accepted it on behalf of the congregation.  You’ll find a full copy of it in the Newsletter.  What they have done in this resolution is to confirm that racism and discrimination are still a problem in your beautiful world, and that our church wants to combat those realities wherever we can.  It’s not a political statement, but it can have political ramifications because it encourages us to stand up to anyone or any group that would seek to divide people rather than unite us as we see the beauty in people who are different than us.  The resolution is a theological statement that goes back to the beginning which declares that you created everything and declared it good.

   Now the question will be, “How will we get involved to actually be effective in fighting the ugly step-siblings of your beautiful creation”?  That chapter is being written as we read this.  It’s only in the days, years, and decades to come that this chapter will be read which will reveal how we have responded to your call.

   As always, thanks for listening.  I love you.

   Dan

Pastoral Pondering July 2020