I must confess that this last year or so has been a hard emotional journey. I have struggled to come to terms with the country I love, but many days I do not know where we are headed. But in all of that I have tried to pursue dialogue in a compassionate, heartfelt way that engages those who believe differently than I do.
I recently shared a post on Facebook of what appeared to be a Muslim man who had acid thrown in his face. I continue to be shocked and saddened by man’s lack of humanity and empathy.
A friend posted this comment in part, “I believe the problem with this country is with ALL citizens not respecting each other as human beings. Period. It’s time we stop being so divided with pointing the finger towards those that have trespassed against us and realize it is a very real struggle that we all can get through together with the guidance of our Creator and Father.”
The incident in the post did not even happen in America, but Manchester, England. But since our beloved country was brought into the conversation, let me delve a little deeper.
If ALL citizens in this country were being routinely and randomly stopped, harassed, arrested and sometimes shot by police officers while going into their own homes, walking in their own neighborhoods, driving their own cars, swimming in their own neighborhood pools, in that case, we would have a common point from which to start. But when I look at the news, I rarely see ALL citizens, but interestingly, the citizens I do see have something in common and it is not their bank accounts, their occupation, their pedigree, their address, or their education, but rather it is the color of their skin.
And I would be remiss to point out that even using the term ALL citizens seems to confer upon us a status that is often denied by those in authority and our common man.
If we were treated like citizens, why the disparity in so many areas with the common denominator being race?
And do not try to mollify me by enlisting the name of the Creator. The division that exists in America is not because the oppressed seek acknowledgement of our painful pasts, but rather it is the absence of that acknowledgment that keeps the wound from healing.
I agree with an article by John Hopkins University about Germany’s reconciliation efforts. When Germany was hated by the world for their extermination of millions of Jews and blamed for the deaths of millions of other soldiers and civilians through their beliefs and policies that led to World War II, Germany did not just give some one-time apology and expect those deep wounds to be healed. Germany realized that it could not run from its crimes, it had to confront them by acknowledging the atrocities that were committed by Germans.
The problem with America, in general, is the nation is not willing to recognize the imperative to repay a deep moral debt to descendants not only of those who were enslaved, but those who have been systematically oppressed in every facet of life: employment, housing, healthcare, education, services.
I would dare say that many in this country don’t know enough about what has happened to black people to understand why we are aggrieved. And there can be no national healing without acknowledgement of past wrongs and the enduring consequences of those established systems.
If these injustices and cruelties in America were just a few isolated cases, then there may be a justification in declaring time to move on. But these are dots connected through time unified only in the oppression and mistreatment of people of color. The Tuskegee Experiment. Emmitt Till. The Scottsboro Boys. The Central Park Five. Robert Charles O’Hara Benjamin. Black Wall Street. The Rosewood Massacre. Benjamin O. Davis. Medger Evers. Trayvon Martin. Philando Castille. These are not unrelated historical or contemporary happenings, but rather a pattern that we have endured for generations.
Germany recognized that in order to move forward, not only the country symbolically, but it’s citizens individually needed to confront the atrocities done. Jews would not have stood for Germans telling them to stop pointing the finger towards those who had trespassed against them. In fact, the Jewish mantra is “Never Forget.” And we echo the same refrain, “Never Forget.”
Reconciliation is possible and I agree that for believers it is our faith in Christ that enables us to overcome the most difficult things that we face. But even entering into the salvation of God starts with confession and repentance.