Tuesday, April 26, 2016
“Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence? We call it prejudice.” ― Michael Crichton
I am not burdened by the typical common prejudices and bigotry. I care about content of character rather than skin color, religion, national origin, political party, sexual orientation, or tattoos and piercings. That being said, it doesn’t mean I am without prejudices because I have many. I am prejudiced against those with ignorant arrogance, those whose actions hurt others and whose actions are based entirely on ignorance and lies in the national and social media. I am not fond of bankers or white South Africans because of greed and Apartheid. What gets me in trouble is that my prejudices are frequently proved false by the actions of individuals. Apartheid was horrible and caused terrible suffering, deaths, and the destruction of families. Eventually, the whole world saw how bad it was and imposed sanctions both economic and in terms of sports which always hurts. I saw for myself the horrors of racial intolerance in the South where I grew up. I am proud to say that both my parents fought against racial hatred. When my father was made the manager of the Sears, Roebuck store in Alexandria, Louisiana, in the early sixties, he tore out the “Colored Only” water fountains, boarded up the “Colored Only” bathrooms, and hired the first African-American sales people to work the floor in the entire South. My mother worked to keep the schools open when integration came. It’s easy to see why I would hate Apartheid as much as I did, and I blamed white South Africans for all the hate and horror. Then, when my implanted defibrillator failed in 2006, it was white South Africans that flew the surgeon to Nairobi, Kenya, to replace mine free of charge. They paid for the all the hospital bills, the $30,000 part, and everything else. They were warm, loving, and caring people who totally destroyed my long held prejudice against white South Africans because they were so not like what I had expected. Ain’t it always the way, that when you meet individuals who are wonderful, caring, giving, warm, and loving and they turn out to be black, or gay, or Muslim, or Republican or Democrat, or even rich. Christ was friends with and loved Joseph of Arimathea and Zaccheus, both wealthy and one who came by it honestly and one who didn't. Christ told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and defined our neighbors to include all those whom others hated or feared (see recent blog on the Good Samaritan). Christ knew that it was what was in the heart that made someone good and not skin color, religion, or political affiliation. So, okay, no more hating white South Africans (it was white South Africans that freed Nelson Mandela and helped elect him as President, you know). But bankers were still uniformly bad, greedy, and very much like Mr. Potter, the banker in “It’s A Wonderful Life” as stingy and uncaring as could be. Didn’t bankers cause the horrible recession, foreclosed on millions of homes, and cost millions of jobs all the while they were getting richer and richer? So I could hate them all until God slapped me upside the head and showed me a bank president who led mission trips to East Africa for ten years, is better known for his charity work than his banking expertise, but is still a very good banker and highly regarded in his industry. He loves all of God’s children and does everything in his power to care for them. He has helped to change the face of Christianity in Uganda and in one of those Southern states where I thought a liberal was a Klansman who didn’t wear his sheet to work. This banker is a man to emulate, to respect, to admire, and to praise, although he would humbly say otherwise. His birthday was yesterday and that reminded me that not just my prejudices but all prejudices are born and live in ignorance, a world of hate where all believe as you do, and in a world where you have to slam shut your mind to truth and knowing individuals that Christ wants us each to love as we love ourselves. I was guilty but have been acquitted by knowledge and God’s gently urging (I’m being sarcastic here). I’m sure I still have prejudices that need to be adjusted and hope I can do it before God grabs a nearby two by four. Maybe you need to look to yours? I don’t know, but if I can go by what I read in Facebook posts, there is still a whole lot of ignorant hate out there and lumping folks into huge groups which are easier to hate. Christ would not be pleased, and I, for one, think it is more important to please Christ than Facebook friends. Maybe I need to reread the Good Samaritan and other parables of Jesus that apply to me when I didn’t think they did. Maybe you do, too.