We Can Fix This!
Day 17 – January 24, 2018
The year was 1966. The Dow Jones average was 785. The average house price was $14,200, and gas was 32 cents per gallon. Star Trek debuted that year, and the two top songs of the year were I’m a Believer by The Monkees, and Good Vibrations (yes…the Beach Boys)!
Something else happened that year, something that altered my life and thinking. I was in the eighth grade at John Handley High School. At that time, the junior high students were in the same building as the high school students. And that is the year that our schools desegregated, and several hundred African-American students joined our student body. Honestly, I was excited. I love change, and when this event occurred, I considered that this was another world opening up to me. I was horribly naive.
We were only a couple weeks into the school year when it happened. Mr. Battaile, our new African-American home room teacher was trying to quiet down a rowdy class, when my baseball team catcher friend screamed out, “Don’t you tell me what to do you stupid…,” and then he used the ‘N’ word. I remember that moment as if it happened yesterday. I watched Mr. Battaile quietly sit down at his desk with horrible hurt in his eyes. I looked at every black student in the room and saw the same response. Had this happened in today’s environment, this situation would’ve been met with extreme anger, but in 1966 it was pure pain.
I was so hurt by this moment, and I couldn’t understand my pain. It didn’t happen to me. But I later realized that I had never seen anyone treated this way before, and it broke something in me. Here is why I am sharing this with you today.
If I experienced this depth of pain, what about the recipients of this horrible act. And this was not an isolated incident. This happened in communities all across the United States. Needless to say, the pain turned to anger, and the anger turned to riots, and now, more than a half-century later, peace and love have yet to be found.
Let me take a moment to share this with my white brothers and sisters. Most of us would say that we love all people and have no prejudice toward any race. Obviously, that is an important place to begin. But in my opinion, it is only the beginning. If we go back far enough in our ancestry, we will most likely find that our own families contributed to this place in which we find ourselves today with their intentional and unintentional racism. This racism was active. And its repercussions are still being felt today. There is only one answer for this problem.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 NLT)
This says it all. It is not enough to feel love and to feel non-prejudice toward a people group. We need to be as intentional with that love as our ancestors were with their intentional racism. We need to intentionally act out our Christianity toward people of every color. We have a lot of ground to make up, but we can do this. In fact, in my opinion, the church is the vehicle God has given to us to fix this. Daniel 11:32 says, “The people who know God, display strength and take action.” Let’s be that church!