An untold tragedy occurred on Wednesday night, 17th June, in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine innocent people sitting in their weekly Bible study were gunned down. A young man, Dylan Roof, only 21 years old, is the person charged with this dreadful crime.
I looked at his face! I tried to peer into his eyes to see inside of his soul - he is still so young, so much life ahead of him. How could anyone be filled with such hatred? Was he taught to hate? Are there other people responsible for filling his soul with hatred? It is beyond me to comprehend how someone so young could take a gun and shoot people. I know that everyone in this nation is wondering how such a crime could ever occur.
We have to remind ourselves that Dylan Roof was once an innocent baby. When he opened his eyes for the first time he did not see color - he simply saw people. No child is born with prejudice! Children learn prejudice. They learn by watching and by listening. What conversations was Dylan Roof privy to? What did he see acted out before his young, innocent eyes? Instead of being filled with bitterness towards this young man, it is incumbent upon us to ask ourselves some questions.
I have two grand children and I know that their parents are totally committed to raising them up as color blind adults. They never talk disparagingly about anyone in front of their children and they always treat people everywhere with respect and dignity.
Racism can go both ways - white on black or black on white. Whichever way it goes it is wrong! Harmful! Might I add, sinful!
Here is what I believe we can do to help make our world a safer place:
- Acknowledge that everyone is made in the image of God: It does not matter what the color of the skin, the size of the intellect, the shape of the nose and mouth, or the social standing of the individual - God made all men and women equal.
- We should treat all people with respect: This happens from the earliest of ages. Children are impressionable and they learn to model what they hear and see. It is likely that Dylan Roof was not taught to respect all people regardless of race. He was undoubtedly taught that some were superior to others. We cannot assume where his learning took place, but wherever it occurred, it had a profound, lasting impact on his young soul. And now the tragic result of what was instilled into him from a young age is being played out in devastated homes around Charleston.
- It starts with modelling the right behavior at home: Children mimic their parents. My appeal is to parents and grandparents to model respect for all people to their children.
- Never give people labels: Unfortunately, in the United States, people have labels placed on them. I am sure that happens everywhere. Some unfortunate events have occurred with the police force and the sad outcome is that many innocent and God fearing policemen are being unfairly labelled. Black people also have unjust and unkind labels placed on them. The same is true with white people - they often get labeled as racists. Lets stop these childish games and behave like people who are created in the image of a loving God who made all people equal.
We live in a sad world, but I do believe that we can change it. It starts in our homes by showing love and respect to each other and then treating others with kindness and dignity. Can we not model a new kind of behavior to our children? If we do our world will be a better place, and there certainly wouldn't be nine families with broken hearts right now.
Lets teach our children a better way!
I am and always will be,
recklessly abandoned, ruthless committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,