Saturday, July 9, 2016

Stop Being a Racist

What is happening in America right now? Violence against blacks continues at an alarming rate. The numbers are stacking up quickly. People are afraid to walk in the streets. We now have active shooters targeting people of a particular race and police seem to be killing black males for the smallest offenses. But there is a simple solution. 

Here in Baltimore we certainly remember the death of Freddie Gray and the strange course of events leading to it. I still wonder what really happened but I suspect we will never know. Each one of the recent killings has unique facts and circumstances. Some of those killed seemed to be going about their daily routine, while others were in the act of breaking the law, and still others were in the act of upholding the law (as in Dallas). Despite the uniqueness of the circumstances, there is a simple solution. 

The leaders of our country and the candidates for leadership are both not helping. They seem to be using these events to suit their own purposes, From grinding an axe about gun control on one hand to blaming Mexicans or Muslims on the other, they are completely missing the simple solution.

And finally the media continues to cover these stories with a decidedly racial and sensationalist slant. They often willingly leave out key facts while bringing to prominence hearsay and speculation which makes the story seem more interesting, but also more infuriating. The media seems to be fanning the flames of anger and hatred and the media fails to understand the simple solution.

The answer to racism is imagism. Imagism is understanding that all humans are created in the image of God and are therefore worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love. When we understand that all humans are made in the image of God, we can begin the path toward peace. 

Racism is basically making a negative generalization about someone based on their "race." It is clear that people are much more complex than simply their race. Scientifically there is no further distinction for humans besides the species Homo sapien. However, the "Homo sapien" classification is actually rooted in a belief that we are descendants from a family of great apes, which is part of the problem. 

Evolutionary foundations in modern thinking have led to horrible consequences including dividing humans into various so-called "races" and seeking to lessen the number of certain groups as with the holocaust. This backdrop of the modern mind, that we are descendents of a family of great apes, and that our identity is primarily biological and material, has provided an intellectual structure for our racism. If we have common ape ancestors and are splitting off into different evolutionary paths then wouldn't (couldn't?) racism be a result?

But aside from evolutionary foundations and the horrible implications of such thinking there is a more fundamental flaw at the root of racism: the denial of our true identity. Our identity is not primarily biological and material but supernatural and spiritual. If we are not able to accept our identity as image bearers of God, we lose our anchor and drift into chaos. 

As I have said, imagism is the answer to the problem of racism. Imagism is the understanding that humans (not Homo sapiens) are made in the image of God. We are all image bearers of God. Is a White, Black, Hispanic, etc. person made in the image of God? Yes. It is perhaps more appropriate to talk about someone as an image bearer of God than to refer to them by some racial term. 

We are in some ways like God by being made in His image. We have some of the representative responsibilities in overseeing the earth. We are social and creative like God.  We are moral creatures. But this likeness to God is represented in very diverse ways. We who share the planet as image bearers of God must take our identity and the identity of others who don't look like us very seriously. We can't simply look down on an entire group of people because of some trait that is unlike us. First, it would be arbitrary. Second, it would be absurd since we are all image bearers. Third, the value of human life is very great because a human is in some ways like God. The life of each individual is of great value to God and should be to us as well. The taking of a human life is a very weighty matter. For humans are the only creature created in God's image and who have a soul. 

The result is that an imagist, as opposed to a racist, will respect, honor, and love all who are made in the image of God. How could we do otherwise? The dividing of our one group of image bearers into "White," "Black," "Hispanic," "Arab," or any other distinction is a study in absurdity. It also greatly misunderstands the infinite diversity built into the human mind and soul and recognizes only the visible distinctions. The division of humans into races causes confusion when the various arbitrary distinctions begin to mingle. For instance when you have someone who is English, Chinese, Black, and Mexican. What is that person? They are simply a human made in the image of God. Their primary identity is not biological but spiritual. (Jesus did recognize distinctions between Samaritans and Jews as well as Gentiles. So clearly some distinctions are appropriate. However, when Jesus made the Samaritan the hero of his parable of the good Samaritan and cited the gentile woman as having greater faith than what He found in Israel, we can understand that the Kingdom of God is not limited or defined by cultural and ethnic distinctions. The primary distinction is one's relationship to God. In that sense there are only two distinct groups that matter; those who trust in Jesus and those who do not.) 

So I am very angry (being a human myself) that some humans are being killed by other human police officers. This greatly disturbs me. These are my "brothers." I stand in solidarity with them. I am part of their group and they are part of my group. Equally, I am extremely angry that a man made an arbitrary distinction to select a certain group of other human police officers to be killed. These were people created in the image of God and taking their lives was a horrible act. The taking of a life of any "race" by any "race" is a weighty matter as we are all part of the human race and made in the image of God. 

Will you decide to view all humans primarily as image bearers of God who deserve dignity, honor, respect, and love?

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