"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd is one of my favorite books. They made a movie from it, but I hadn't had the chance to watch it until the other night. Watching the movie and the themes the story deals with made me stop and think. Why is it that some people can see others simply as fellow human beings while others need to catorgerize and label? As a child I was taught that no matter the color of someone's skin, their wealth or their choice of lifestyle we do not have the right to judge them. It was the most important thing my mother ever taught me and it is a lesson that I have passed on to my children.
The other day we were in Wal-Mart picking up some groceries when my five-year-old son said, "Mommy, that man's skin is black." I looked up and there was a gentleman in line ahead of us and his skin was indeed black. I looked back down at my son and said simply, "Yes, it is." My son has not been exposed to different ethnicities in his short life, so his next question was why. I answered, "Because everyone is different. That's the way God made us. If everyone was the same we'd all get bored." My son shrugged and that was the end of it. My answer was simple, but it was good enough for him.
I have a hard time understanding how racism still exists. When I talk about favorite authors, favorite actors, friends etc...I have never felt the need to preface myself with "He/She is my favorit African American..." How is it I wonder, that so many others have a hard time dropping the color of skin, type of religion or choice of lifestyle from the way they view people.
The quote above means a lot to me. When Dr. King spoke those words our country was in the middle a the Civil Rights Movement, one of the most important things that happened in that era. The words still ring true today, only now, it is religious persecution that I feel has come to the forefront.
Many people I know stand by and listen as others spew hatred based on the choice of religion individuals make, most significantly, the Islamic religion. Our nation has demonized an entire group of people based on nothing more than the bad actions of a few and the religion they chose to associate themselves with. Racism comes in all forms and it turns my stomach to hear the hatred coming forth from the mouths of people who consider themselves "Good Christians". I have gotten into more than one verbal battle standing up for the point of view I have. I don't come down on the "Islam = terrorism" side. I see the situation differently. At it's core, Islam share many of the same values and teachings as Christianity.
The other thing that galls me is how quickly people seem to have forgotten the history of Christianity. The Crusades. The Spanish Inquisition. The persecution of immigrants of different religions in the 1900's. The bombing of abortion clinics. Christians have perpetrated some fairly horrible things in the name of their God.
When we ignore this, we are blinding ourselves to the only path to hope there really is.
Stand up and let your voice be heard. It has been said that a thousand people whispering will have more power than one person screaming. Start whispering.