Yesterday I attempted to address the racist in all of us and a couple of you commented that I may have confused racism and prejudice — prejudice being something we all do have probably in some form. You were right. I was primarily talking about prejudice. Racists are hate mongers who believe that whole people groups are inferior merely because of their color or ethnicity. None of us are thinking about joining the KKK or driving our cars into a crowd of protesters against racism. However, having said that, the more I think about this, the more I see a reason for sticking with my original intent anyway: “We have met the racist and he/she is us.” Here me out and I think you’ll agree.
It seems to me that prejudice and racism are not two different things as much as they are degrees of the same thing. Racism is prejudice all grown up. Do we really want to say: “Well, we all are probably a little prejudice in some ways, but that doesn’t make us all racists”? Yet when you realize that prejudice when it is fully formed is racism, knowing that might make us more apt to want to do something about getting rid of it.
Isn’t this the argument behind Jesus equating hate with murder and lust with adultery? By seeing where our wrong attitudes are headed, we might be more apt to want to deal with them in the first place. Prejudice is a wrong attitude. If we are going to follow Christ, we must not coddle a place for it anywhere in our thinking. If I learn to see hate as murder and lust as adultery, then it stands to reason I should see prejudice as racism. I don’t want to be a racist any more than I want to be a murderer or adulterer. It’s like looking everything in the broad light of day and seeing what it really is.
In an opinion article in the Los Angeles Times today, Robert M. Sapolsky, professor of biology, neurological sciences and neurosurgery at Stanford University raised a related argument that the brain make choices related to its exposure. In a relatively dark room with little light, the mind adjusts in order make contrasts between things with slight differences. Out in the light, it adjusts to make contrasts between much bigger things. His point is made in his last sentence, “If we readjust our brains to focus on the biggest of contrasts, then we can remember what the real enemy is, and use our intellect and passion to destroy it.”
The real enemy is racism, so lets not let even prejudice take hold in our thinking.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)