Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4
Today is the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education– May 17, 1954. It overturned another landmark decision from 1896, Plessy vs. Ferguson, which set the legal precedent of “separate but equal” accommodations and treatment of African-Americans. Such accommodations typically were quite separate, but certainly not equal.
Segregation based upon racism became supported by law by that Plessy decision. However, prior to that decision, it had long been assumed to be some God-given way to conduct society. Attitudes about African-Americans, and indeed other people of color were often skewed by ignorance and fear.
Those racial attitudes over the years had been blended into our culture, and the Brown decision by the Supreme Court changed the law, but it did not change attitudes. As we know, it took many more years of civil rights battles before changes in society became more normalized in combating segregation and discrimination. Of, course, that battle continues. Racism exists today, and it is part of our brokenness.
Each of us must look into our own heart and mind to find attitudes which are not healthy or helpful. Yes indeed, we all have them. In 12-Step work it is the 4th step where people seeking true recovery from whatever binds them, take a “fearless and searching moral inventory of my character defects”. Such a journey of self-discovery is difficult, but freeing.
We look back now on Brown vs. Board of Education as obviously inherently right. It is the law of the land. Is it the law of our hearts? We can celebrate the fact that our system of laws, while flawed, has the resiliency to remedy its mistakes. We too can remedy the flaws in our attitudes and heart, and move ahead renewed.
Prayer, Father, thank you for your plans of restoration, plans to heal us and prosper us. Give us the humility to follow that daily, Amen.