We saw the elderly white lady in her ancient station wagon, feverishly trying to get it to start. Behind her, traffic was backing up, and people were behaving somewhat predictably. This is to say that some were finding ways to get around her, others were honking and throwing temper tantrums.
I parked the vehicle, and I and the young man from my church who was with me at that moment rushed over to see if we could push her car out of traffic and into a safe place. The lady, clearly shaken, thanked us, put the vehicle in neutral, and we began to push.
A station wagon. Uphill.
Years of power lifting has given me a good bit of strength, but honestly, we were struggling badly, and after a few seconds it became clear to me that we were going to lose that battle. And then I felt a “thump” beside me on the back of the vehicle, and I looked over to see a pair of black hands beside my own. A young black gentleman, probably late teens or early twenties, had joined in to help. Between all of us we got the lady safely out of traffic where she could call for help and wait till it arrived.
That was a few years back, but I thought about it again this week while watching the news and seeing once again how ubiquitous race-baiting and hate hoaxes have become in America. I see such a disconnect between day-by-day reality and the “made for political gain theater” of manufactured racial strife saturating the 24-hour news cycle and social media.
Simply put, people would get along a lot better if they did not have people in pursuit of power telling them they shouldn’t.
Proverbs 6:12-14 describes what the Bible calls a “naughty person,” and chief among the characteristics of such is that he or she “sows discord.” Hard on the heels of that, verse 19 says that God hates “a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” So even back in Solomon’s day there were people who would tell lies for the specific purpose of getting people at each other’s throats. If he thought it was bad then, imagine what he would say now!
The incomparable Thomas Sowell once said, “The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything — and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’” He was spot on. And I would add that there are people who are investing heavily in that ketchup, hoping to make a fortune from it and a name off of it.
As long as there are human beings there will be sin, since everyone is born a sinner (Romans 5:12) And hatred will always be one of those sins. This is to say that I am not Pollyannaish; I know that there will always be some evil people who hold racist views and even people who do and say racist things. But there will also always be people who see racism where it does not exist, claim racist attacks that did not happen, and spin every confrontation into a racial issue even if race had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And this vile habit flies in the face of everyday experience for, I suspect, the vast majority of people.
There is a waitress at a local restaurant, a sweet African American lady. Each time she serves me she calls me “sugar.” It makes my day each and every time. For those not in the know, that is a distinctly southern way of simply being kind and brightening someone’s day.
As I walk in and out of buildings I see white people holding the door for black people. When we have the gym outreach on Thursday nights, I see a fifty-fifty mix of white and black young men having the time of their lives and getting along like the best friends on earth. A church member who works at a nearby college said, “Preacher, it is like this at the school as well. Everybody just gets along.” And then she made this telling statement, “at least until somebody tells them they shouldn’t.”
As we drove away from that station wagon that day, I could not help but think of the hands on the back of the car; the very white ones on my left, my very tan ones in the middle, and the very black ones on my right. Apparently none of us got “the memo” that day that we should hate each other. We were just human beings, all made in the image of God, behaving in a way that pleases the God who made us.