“Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?
~ James 4.1, NRSV
We know that we are not physically colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige, that we are apart of one long social and pseudo- scientific experiment based on the self- serving theory that one group of human beings is better and greater than all others; consequently, needing all of the earth for themselves. We agree that race is a sociocultural construct, that there is not a single shred of biological evidence that would support such a belief system, that the practice of genocide, oppression and enslavement are never justified or excusable but are demonstrations of our sinful nature. We believe that there is no reason, no rationale that can be given as to why all of God’s creation can not live on the earth without the threat of harassment or molestation just for simply and naturally being.
But, that does not matter. This on- going war is about hurt and pain, not just who hit first but whose hurt will last and land them on top of the heap, a modern attempt at being the king/queen of the hill. There is no denying that we have all been hurt and that we have all hurt others– if only in our hearts (Matthew 5.27-28). And before we can be personally touched by the prejudices of others, we inherit the experiences and expectations of parents, teachers, friends and Christian leaders.
We strangely and eagerly pass it on: Get ready for the race war! You will be attacked so it is best that you strike first. They are out to get you so be aware and beware. Stick with each other. Don’t forget where you come from. Remember your history. Or, be quiet. Get down. Stay out of it. Don’t get involved. They have nothing to do with us. This is none of our business. Don’t talk to them. Don’t make friends with them. This is the language of the race war. These are fighting words.
We have all been enlisted in this race war. Our parents made this decision before conception that we would be a part of the fight, that we would need to be on the “right side of history.” But what are we fighting for now? Who are we fighting against now and for how long? And what of all this present time? Must I give it all up in service to history?
Will there ever be a time of reconciliation? Will we always hate each other? Is there no place to put down our prejudices, to lay aside our resentments, to forget or forgive? The answer is yes, always, anytime and anywhere yes.
Our belief in race and practice of racism persists because we crave power and more so, power over others. We want all of the attention because inside, we feel that we do not matter, that we are powerless. We treat others as if they are invisible because we do not feel that we have been seen. We push persons to the margins because it the place that we are most familiar with. We have been there.
We can only treat people as we have been treated. The truth is that this war is really not about race at all. It is a collection of fights that we are all having with ourselves.
This race war begins and ends with us. We must change our internal desires, our cravings for ourselves and in so doing, we will change our treatment of others. When we get tired of fighting against our true ourselves, we will stop fighting others.
I, for one, am tired. I am laying my weapons down and picking up a white flag of surrender this morning. Will you join me?