Next week I will have a post titled “How to Stop the Violence and Reclaim our Children” that will be much more detailed and specific but I wanted to get this quick, more personal post out today.
With all of the violent incidents in the news the last week or two I wonder how contributive it was that so many national leaders from politics to the news media to Hollywood to athletes were so quick to excuse the behavior of Trayvon Martin as justified and condemn the behavior of George Zimmerman as racist? Are they encouraging young people to fight back against imaginary acts of aggression? Against racial injustices that are not really there? When they fight back against people who never fought first they are seen as attacking… this feeds the racism that our leaders say they are trying to stop. The race baiting is feeding a greater distance between the racist, creating greater animosity, and causing each to see the other as evil or criminal or stupid or some other terrible thing.
It is so easy to discard the people we see as evil, criminal, stupid, unlovable, addicted, uneducated, lazy... useless. It is easier to discard them as trash than to try and understand them… to try and love them… to try and love them… and to try and see the world how they see the world. It is so much easier to hate them than to love them.
I have been one of the evil, criminal, stupid, unlovable, addicted, uneducated, lazy, useless people and many had discarded me as unredeemable. There was a time in my life when I put myself in places and situations where I could have been shot by someone who was just trying to protect themselves. No, I was never really dangerous and never really would have hurt anyone. But I could certainly see how I could be threatening and if someone had taken a shot at me during one of those times… it would have been my fault… I would have had it coming.
Even many of my family members thought I was useless and worthless and would be best discarded as the trash I presented myself to be. In fact, even though there is not a shred of resemblance left of that person, I am afraid some of my family still hold that image of me and keep a bit more distance. But through every moment... even my worst moments... God knew me as His child. I was as valuable to Him at my worst as I am to Him at my best. God used many human angels to show His love for me, to nurture me, and to redeem me as the Child of the One True King that He always knew me to be. Praise God and the many people He placed in my life for never giving up on me.
If God never gave up on me I believe He expects that we are never to give up on each other. Even when we are at our worst. Even when we seem scary, and dangerous, and so very different from everyone that we know. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a great deal to say about this as his sincerest desire was that skin color would not matter. He said, “now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, 'Love your enemies.' It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them... sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies."