In these weeks of political wars of words, of racial violence and unwarranted brutality, there is good reason for many of us to feel bewildered and discouraged. I drew a deep breath and told myself that we are indeed the slowest learners on God’s good earth.
So much of the public jargon of hatred is rooted in our fears about the “other”, the one who does not look like me or who has other customs. I feel myself back in the sixties when this country was wracked by the upheaval of integration in schools and public accommodations. It seems we are still at it.
Why should I fear one who dresses differently or does not worship in my church? Does that make him or her deserving of my hatred? Where have we forgotten that each of us, different as we may appear, is still a child of God? Then, I remembered a story from that previous era of finding a public place for the “other”.
It was a time of school integration and a very white mother was most uneasy sending off her first born to kindergarten for day one in a climate of suspicion. She anxiously awaited the child’s return, dreading that she might have been in contact with one of “them”. The five-year-old came dancing in from the school bus, bursting with stories of the wonder of school, of story time and recess.
“And I met the most wonderful girl, Patsy, who sits next to me. We shared a snack and played together at recess. And we are going to be best friends forever!” she announced triumphantly.
“Was her skin a different color?” ventured the racist mother.
To which her colorblind daughter replied: “I don’t know. I’ll look tomorrow.”
Too many of us, shouting insults and taunting others, need the eyes of that child. Today is the time for finding the commonalities. We can always check the differences on another day.