Columns share an writer’s private perspective.
When sufficient individuals care sufficient about prejudice, when concern reaches crucial mass, motion is taken. This often implies that laws is handed or new insurance policies enacted. The show of hatred related to a specific prejudice – for instance, race discrimination in housing – is outlawed.
Such laws is important and improves situations for many individuals, nevertheless it doesn’t dispel prejudice. It might take away it from sight however, till the worry and hatred which inspire it are eradicated, it is not going to remove it. Prejudice will merely mutate.
This isn’t to say that laws is ineffective or coverage modifications are a waste of time. Laws is to prejudice what quarantine orders are to COVID-19: a way of limiting its damaging influence. Limiting its influence is a worthy purpose, one to which individuals can nobly give their lives and energies, however we have to be real looking. Passing laws, revising insurance policies and altering buildings is not going to get to the foundation of the issue.
What is required is a radical resolution to an issue that’s buried deep within the human particular person. Prejudice isn’t native to America, although it has manifested itself all through American historical past. It’s a human downside. Certainly one of my closest pals, a dark-skinned Bengali, born in Kolkata within the 1950s, grew up on the subcontinent the place lighter-skinned individuals obtained higher remedy than their darker-skinned neighbors.
A radical resolution requires, I imagine, a transformative non secular encounter. We can’t go on as we’re – with the concepts we now have subconsciously imbibed since infancy channeling our ideas – and nonetheless remove prejudice, even when we really need to take action. Legal guidelines and insurance policies want to alter however so can we.
Our concepts want to alter at a profound and unseen degree. That is recognized, in non secular circles, as “repentance.” (The compound Greek phrase so translated within the Bible is comprised of a prefix suggesting “change” and a root which means “thoughts.”) When concepts change, people change (this is called “conversion”), and when sufficient people change, society does too.
Laws and coverage modifications should not radical sufficient. Prejudice will “outsmart” such issues by mutating. Solely a profound private transformation can remove prejudice by uprooting the worry and hatred rising within the depths.
This has occurred in historical past. In a time when prejudice was rampant, ideologically supported and structurally ingrained, a bunch of reworked individuals was, largely, free of it. They have been such a distinction to the society round them that everybody took discover.
The individuals who comprised this radical group got here from completely different ethnic and nationwide backgrounds. They didn’t costume alike, eat the identical meals, maintain the identical schedules or belong to the identical organizations. Their lives had been as separate and unequal as potential. They have been Jews and Gentiles, but they have been melded collectively within the nascent Church of Jesus Christ.
Certainly one of their chief spokesmen, the Apostle Paul, wrote that within the Church “there isn’t any Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free.” In a single rhetorical swoop, he gathered the principal prejudices of the day and unmade them. This was solely potential, he was cautious to articulate, as a result of Greeks and Jews and barbarians and Scythians had undergone radical, non secular change.
In our personal nation, with our personal structurally ensconced prejudices, this similar sort of factor as soon as occurred. On an April night in Los Angeles in 1906, a bunch of praying males was reworked in a non secular encounter. Certainly one of them, a black man, the son of emancipated slaves, turned the general public face of what has come to be often known as the Azusa Avenue Revival.
Throughout one of many worst a long time of racial violence in American historical past – a thousand black males lynched, tons of of 1000’s of white individuals within the KKK – Latinos, whites, Asians and blacks have been assembly collectively, praying collectively and embracing each other as brothers and sisters. They did this not as a result of it was legislated however as a result of they have been modified.
We who need societal transformation ought to make our views recognized to our legislators. Extra importantly, we must always plead with God to rework us into the sort of people that expertise Jesus’ love and concern for others and replicate it to the world round us.
Shayne Looper is the pastor of Lockwood Neighborhood Church in Coldwater, Michigan. His weblog, “The Manner Residence,” is at shaynelooper.com.