Monday, November 30, 2015

Racism, Samaritans, and Saints

As I've read news about recent protests on campuses across the country I've often wondered how I could respond helpfully if I were an administrator at one of those campuses. And I have not found it easy to answer my own question.

The closest I've come is this: when my kids were little, I taught them that despite what others may say, there are no bad words; but there are bad uses of good words. When we use our words to hurt others or to deprive them of what they need to grow and flourish, we are using our words badly.

Plainly there are acts, institutions, rituals and monuments that foster an undeserved poor view of some of our neighbors. Those should be changed or abolished.

But I don't think that's enough, and those might be more like symptoms than the illness itself.

I think we need to work to make sure we use our words in ways that help and heal, nurture and teach. I think we need leaders (at all levels) who will take positions of leadership as opportunities to edify and promote those who have not had such opportunities yet.

To put it in simpler terms, I think we need to work harder at loving our neighbors. Jesus told a story about this once, focusing on established ethnic hatred with deep political roots. I refer to the parable of the "Good Samaritan." This parable is the best answer I've got so far to the question I have posed for myself. If you've got the power to help others, and you see others needing help, then help them without regard for what it costs you. This is not easy, but it's what I want to strive for. 


What do you think? What am I forgetting? Am I too naive and optimistic? I welcome thoughtful replies that show kindness towards a wide range of readers. (If you want to simply cuss me out or insult my ignorance, please save that for a direct message, or let me take you out for a beer or coffee so you've got more of my attention. Thanks.)