A Cry for Significance

It has been a difficult weekend for many.

It’s been a horrible week for many.

It’s been a week that will change the lives and families of many forever.

I’ve spent a good bit of time this weekend talking to people.

White friends and relatives.

White friends with adopted black children.

Black friends

And I’ve done a lot of reading of people who I would call “influential.”   Members of Congress (at least one who was a personal friend many years ago), ministers, writers, football players (if you haven’t read Benjamin Watson before, you should) and bloggers.

What have I learned through it all?

A couple of things come to mind……

Some people absolutely refuse to admit or even consider a position other than the one they hold.   This is what they believe about _______ and no one is going to change their mind.

Most people are very good at seeing the problem “over there” but aren’t willing to look at the problem that is “right here.”   

When you can find a friend who at first glance has ideas that are directly opposed to your views but both of you are able to keep dialoguing and going back and forth with respect and thoughtfulness AND you find out that in the end, you really are on the same page just reading from opposite sides of the page, then you have a thing of beauty and a valuable relationship.

This problem is a problem on many levels – but predominantly on a spiritual and an intrinsic value level.

Too many people in our country (of many colors) no longer (or they never did) have it in their hearts that God has made all people equal and therefore we should all be treated as such.   There needs to be a change off heart and a change of minds on many levels and of many people if we’re going to heal the wounds that are literally ripping this country apart.

Intrinsic value – for centuries, the white man in the United States treated the black man as a piece of property – in other words, of very little intrinsic value.   Abraham LIncoln changed that with the Emmancipation Proclamation where he made all black slave free.   However, the white establishment has, over the last 100+ years put road block after road block in the way of the black people achieving the equality that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke so eloquently of in his “I have a Dream Speech.”

And many people from both the black and white communities believed it.   And many still believe it.  Many of them didn’t want to but they starrted to believe that because the system was stacked against the blacks,  they were of less value than the others.   This caused and continues to cause many problems in the black community – many of which are now being used by white people as a “blame game” against the black people.   Many of the actions that happen in the ghettoes, the crime, the drugs and more are in many ways a cry for significance or a cry of giving up their hope for significance.  

This caused and continues to cause many problems in the white community because of the stereotypes that it promotes, the violence that it encourages and the degrading and racist attitudes that prevent real progress from happening to give not only white people but all people the right to ±life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The systems set up by the white bureacracy and run predominantly by the white privileged elite are structured in ways that do not allow black people to experience the same intrinsic value that white people do.   This must change.   It must change on a governmental level and it must change on a personal level.

And that means that many white people are going to have to change their thinking about other people.  And they are going to have to change their thinking about themselves.

And many black people are going to have to change their thinking about other people and change their thinking about themselves.   That’s going to be hard to do given years and decades of a system stacked against them and sending them messages that say they are worth less.

And we’re all going to have to realize the significance of all of God’s people and the way the history of this country has in many ways made that significance very very hard to realize and to value.

Is it a big job?   It’s a huge job.   Is it complex?  Unbelievably – the dynamics of all of these woven and broken personal relationships are very hard to believe, to understand let alone to fix.

But we must.

Those of us who are white need to join with efforts to change the systemic issues that hold the black people back from the significance they deserve.  We also need to get involved with organizations that are helping the next generation of black children grow up knowing their significance and their value.

Those of us who are black, well, I’m not black, so I can’t say or suggest what the black people should do but they need to realize that they are significant and they matter as much as anyone else does.

And we all need to work together to make this world a place where all people feel significant and all people feel valued.

How?   Well, start with the small things – what if we all greeted and treated the people you interact with today with a little more kindness and more respect.

More thoughts on this to come, but for now, realize that all people want to be valued…..