If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness I John 1:9
“We have met the enemy, and he is us” Pogo (Comic Strip Character)
A good mental health principle is that of self-awareness. Recognizing thinking errors, and owning them, is the start of peace and recovery. The first step of the 12 Steps is one of humility- e.g. “I have a problem, and it is bigger than me”
America has a problem with racism, and it is not the province of one sector of society, it is an unfortunate outgrowth of sin and errors of our thinking, individually and collectively.
I also recognize that as a white male, I have a particular viewpoint that is not, cannot be, the full view of the problem of racism. I have not lived as an African-American, and I literally cannot imagine what that experience is like. So, I do not want to minimize the pain and rage that must be felt in these very troubling times. We are digging at scars that have been in America for centuries, and to predict or assume what the African-American experience is like would be hubris at its worst.
In the pain and rage of seeing years of injustice and racism, we sometimes react in ways that are not thoughtful. I understand that. We are human. We have seen a great deal of anger and rhetoric all over the media, and it is important that we have real, honest discussions about racism in America.
Racism has been woven into the fabric of American society since its inception. Racism is a sin that has plagued mankind kind since the dawn of time. The recent discussions, outrage and demonstrations are hopefully an awakening that has been brewing for decades. But that discussion must be engaged in with care, understanding and openness.
Police departments have been singled out for racist reactions. Indeed, there have been police officers who have failed in their duty, made mistakes, and some were even malevolent. These are, unfortunately, true statements. But we cannot believe that the racism problem largely lies with law enforcement. That would minimize the problem of racism. That would be a disservice to police officers everywhere who serve their community with honor, and protect that community, sometimes with the loss of their own lives.
I cannot fully appreciate what it is like for African-American parents who fear for their children on the streets of America every night. It would be cruel and foolish for me to say that I know what the experience of parenting must be like for African-Americans. There has been too much history of young African-American males being abused and even killed because of failures of law enforcement officers. I have just an inkling though of what it must be like for African-American parents who fear for their child, just because they are out on the streets.
I have a son who is a police officer.
We paint with too broad a brush in our reaction and rage. Police officers are people with families who worry about them every night too. Those families send them out with similar worries of their loved ones not returning home because of the actions of someone else- someone who may judge them without thinking. We wouldn’t need police if we were a society without sin. But we are not.
So, the answer to start healing from the sin of racism is to confess it. Then we are in the beginning of healing and forgiveness.
Prayer: Father, forgive us for our sins, of racist thinking and actions. Give us your clarity as we seek your justice and healing, Amen.