Racism: It's real & It's wrong

Santa Clarita Signal • Ethically Speaking Column • For July 9th Weekender, 2016

Racism: Real and Wrong

David W. Hegg

My normal schedule for writing this column is a week ahead of the publishing date. That means I am usually unable to respond to the crisis of the moment. But as I sit writing today the stifling, noxious clouds of sadness and rage falling from the tragic deaths of black men and white police officers are pervasive, leaving me unable to think or write on anything else.

Here, in no particular order are some thoughts on the reality and toxicity of racism.

1. Racism is any level of disdain or distrust of another human being based on their inclusion in a racial group different from yours. I feel it, and so do you, because we all, at some level, at some time, harbor these feelings. Worse, we are prone to archive anecdotal evidence that our racial prejudice has an honorable foundation. It doesn’t and down deep, we know it.

2. Life matters. While it is vogue to put another qualifier in front of this statement, that only speaks to a small part of the problem. It is certain those insisting black lives matter, or blue lives matter, or Christian lives matter are not suggesting their group’s lives matter more than the rest. Rather, they are simply pointing out that, to many people, their group’s lives don’t seem to matter as much as they should. And while this may force us to consider our own deeply seated prejudices, it doesn’t go deep enough.

The bedrock truth is not about “lives” but about “life” itself. The only reason black lives matter or blue lives matter or any other lives matter is because they are alive. Human life is what matters, regardless of the age, gender, color, or ideology of its container.

Yet, when a society tolerates a diminished view of life in its biology labs, it should not surprise us that murder and mayhem become the staple of our arts and culture. If life is nothing more than the result of random chemical processes, why should it be granted value? And If a baby in the womb is merely a “non-viable tissue mass” that can easily, and legally be eliminated simply by choosing to do so, why does it surprise us that an increasing number in society choose to kill others they deem inconvenient or in the way?

3. The scourge of racism, and the violence and death it can lead to, will never be solved through demagoguery. Nor will it be eliminated by some top-down, broad-based policy or legislation. Racial prejudice lies in individual hearts, yours and mine. It is a sin we make room for, rationalize, and attempt to keep hidden. But it also is an acid that eats its container.

The only real solution is to once again understand human life – each, and all – as created by God for a noble purpose, bearing his image. We must also recognize the toxin of sin has permeated our humanity, bringing with it a twisted selfishness capable of rationalizing even the greatest evil.

The problem actually isn’t racism. It is the selfish factory called the human heart that will manufacture hate and its delivery vehicles unless guarded closely by truth, and incrementally transformed through love. And the only love capable is the love of God our maker, whose powerful gospel alone can open blind eyes, break hard hearts, and bring together a people from every tribe, nation, and language under heaven.

When it comes to racial tension, prejudice, and hatred, we have met the enemy and it is us. We’ve allowed life to be redefined as nothing more than random chemical connections, and cheered as ending it has become both legal through abortion, and entertaining in movies and games. Now we’re watching the reality of it all as bullets, loaded in hatred, rain down atrocity all around us.

I am sick. Our nation is sick. And worse, we know it will happen again and again. We can’t do everything, but we must do something. And the something begins in your heart and mine. I beg you … love your neighbor, and his neighbor, and her neighbor, no matter the color of their skin.