Friday, June 26, 2015

The Isms

I've been vacationing with the family, so I haven't written for a while. And what I'm going to write about today, I'm a little nervous about, because believe it or not, I don't like controversy. But it's been heavy on my heart, and I feel like I need to say it.

The shooting in Charleston. So terribly sad. But as I joined the online grieving, I was convicted by some of the comments I read. Sentiments along the lines of, "How could this still be happening in our country?" "I thought we had moved past this!" "When will we eradicate racism in our society?"

Sentiments I would have shared in the not-so-distant past, but I don't think I can share today. Because, friends, I don't think we will ever "move past this." I don't think we will ever "eradicate racism." Not really. And so, as much as we need to fight racism, we've really got to focus on a more important task.

I just re-read a book over vacation that I'll be assigning my daughter in English class this fall: The Deadliest Monster. It compares the worldviews of two classic monster stories (which she will also be reading). In Frankenstein, the doctor creates a being who is pure and innocent in its creation; it only becomes a monster when it is treated cruelly by society. In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll recognizes within himself a virtuous self and an evil self and tries to isolate the evil self so as to be able to indulge it once in a while without damage to his reputation; however, the evil self, through the indulgence, becomes more and more powerful and eventually takes over.

The question in this book is, which monster do you believe in? Modern society believes in Frankenstein. We are born good -- the only reason we do bad things is because society messes us up. The solution then is to fix society (laws, education, etc.) so that people are never "trained" to do bad things. We need to pass strong hate crime laws, integrate our schools and neighborhoods, and teach our kids that we are all equal. Then we will get past racism. We will eradicate it.

But the reality is that we are not Frankensteins -- we are Jekyll/Hydes. We are not born good -- we are born with an evil self lurking within us. We are born selfish little snits that need to be "trained" to do good. Racism (at least the selfish, prideful seed that becomes racism) is within us from the womb.

There's an old saying that God doesn't have grandchildren, only children. Righteousness is not passed down from generation to generation. It is not a legacy we leave our offspring. Good manners, maybe. Religious traditions, certainly. Moral habits and desires, perhaps. But not righteousness. Righteousness must be re-born in every individual, one at a time. Who was it that said "We are always one generation away from apostasy"? This is truth. One generation.

I long for a day when our world is genuinely color-blind . . . and gender-blind, and class-blind, and blind to every difference between us that doesn't matter. When my friend's dark brown skin is of no more consequence than my other friend's bright red hair. When we stop celebrating women's history month because women's history is just American history.

But the truth is, IF that day were to ever come, there would still be those who find a reason to hate a group of other people and use guns or bombs to kill them. "Racism" may not be the cause, but there will always be an "ism". No matter what laws we pass . . . no matter how we educate . . . there will always be an "ism".

Because God doesn't have grandchildren. Racism is not a result of bad training; it is a result of an unrighteous heart. The re-birthing of righteous hearts: that's what will stop the isms.

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