Yesterday I attended a presentation on, Racism. Much of it I had heard before in different settings and much of it affirmed ideas that I formed over the years.
It seems to me the root of racism is, fear: fear of difference, fear of uncertainty, fear for one’s self. One of the speakers was a black, female pastor and she spoke with some degree of fear. She was afraid of sharing her thoughts and experiences because she wasn’t sure how her colleagues would hear what she was saying, maybe her fear was being vulnerable. Another speaker was an Hispanic male pastor from another country, and he shared his hurts and his story. He also risked being vulnerable; risking that he would heard. The black female and the Hispanic male spoke to a room of, overwhelmingly, white people.
I almost always see white pastor in the pulpit and I noticed the one speaker was black. The people I normally hear speaking from the pulpit speak American English, but the Hispanic pastor spoke with an accent. I noticed these differences but I was not afraid because I know them. I know these pastors to be a holy people, people of integrity and honesty, people deserving of my respect. The challenge seems to be taking time to learn about people who are different than us, but we seem to be short on time. We’ve turned letters into posts, and we’ve turned posts into tweets. We then read posts and tweets and form opinions.
It’s not always easy to hear about peoples’ fears, people whose life experiences are different than ours, whose life experiences challenge our understanding of things. But I think part of being religious, being a Christian is to, “fear not”. As I read about the life of Jesus, it is a life of embracing and engaging differences. Jesus embraced people with illnesses and deformities, he embraced those who others hid from, he loved those who were considered unlovable; and Jesus took time.
One of the most valuable commodities we have is time and perhaps we can show how much we value people by spending time with them. Maybe over time we can learn to be less afraid.