“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people…” Luke the Evangelist
Without scrutinizing the forensics involved or analyzing a decision made by a Grand Jury, justified or not, the taking of life is a gravely sad state of affairs. It is a heavy responsibility we place on the shoulders of mere human beings, who daily put their own lives at risk, and it is a most painful grief laid at the feet of beloved family and friends. Sanctimonious hand-wringing won’t do, and clerical charlatans can’t help.
Because the individuals involved in the Ferguson altercation have differing skin pigmentation, this has engendered dangerously simplistic, yet eminently profitable approaches heavily couched in the spurious concept of “race”. Indeed, a CNN commentator expressed the view that we need to have “all the races” involved in some kind of productive dialogue in order to move forward.
One wonders what “races” were being talked about. Let’s see, are we referring to the Black race, the Yellow race, the Red race, the Brown race, the White race, the Italian race, the Indonesian race, the Icelandic race, the Israeli race? Race? Have we regressed so far and become that incredibly ignorant?
Ostensibly well intentioned cries that we should now have deliberations about “race” are broadly being made, and in one sense, they would be extremely healthy. Yes, we should discuss race, so that this baseless and insolvent idea can be permanently debunked. Dr. King understood this decades ago, which is why he spoke so eloquently about the deeper and definitive aspects of a person contained in the content of character, beyond the coloration of skin. His dream clearly did not include continuing to define people along ridiculously contrived lines that can only result in a headlong “race” to a dead-end.
Celebrations of our ethnicity are a great thing, and they are anthropologically and socially valid. They enable us to be informed by the traditions and experiences germane to the regions of Kenya, Tanzania, Russia, Korea, Chile, Ireland and the Philippines. Yet, apart from that wonderful thing known as the “human race”, the term “race” itself has no informative bearing as it pertains to the characterization of people, either as individuals or in groups. Race is a social construct first developed by racists, and it should not find easy, pandering, and, frankly, rather productive quarter in the Body of Christ.
If, as a nation, we had talked more and taught more about people as “people”, and not as “black” or “white”, we would have made much more progress in the arena of human relations than we have thus far. Ferguson would not be largely known as a notorious hotspot for the looting of merchants whose only crime is trying to make ends meet.
Sadly, the Christian Church has not led in this endeavor, and too often falls lockstep into the bigotry that easily divides folks into dehumanizing classes related to skin tone. We have been told that, in Christ, all distinctions disappear, but we have swept Jesus aside in the belief that embracing common misconceptions will keep us relevant in the community. We can do better, far better.
As it happens, the season of Our Lord’s birth is a color-blind affair, including every soul ever called into consciousness. Distinct from anticipating what we might materially receive on December 25th, the real point of the Nativity is what we might faithfully learn. In this regard, it would appear there is much we can glean from the infant adorned in swaddling clothes.
Beyond the crude concepts that divide, the black and white truth is that Jesus is the Savior redeeming everyone, regardless of ethnicity, color or creed.