We are a nation in denial. A nation walking amongst the world created for us by the media, by the news, by Twitter and Facebook. We are a nation so delusional that we see certain actions and feel they are the same everywhere. We are told what we are to believe about someone, as though we are back in high school hearing the latest gossip and take it to be gospel, never imagining that adulating involves actually confronting someone and finding out exactly what is going on.
With the outpouring of emotion and anger over the vile "rally" in Charlottesville this past week, one is expected to just assume that all white people are racist, Trump is the second coming of Hitler, and the best way to fight is to resist violently if necessary. All of this is absurd. Not all people of deficient skin pigment are Nazis, Trump is hardly Hitler, and if violent resistance is the preferred answer to the problems you see, have you not ever been taught not to hit back? Have you not seen the escalation of violence of the drug war, gang violence, bullying?
Working and living in a "Trump county", I can say honestly that White-supremacy is the farthest thing from our lives up here. We have many people who voted for Trump who work tirelessly to care for those who are the 20% below the poverty line. Who suffer from unemployment and underemployment. From drug addiction and alcohol abuse. The women battered and bruised. The kids wondering when dad or mom will get out of prison. That is our world here. Survival.
But when identity-politics has so crept into the public square, in which the color of ones skin, the identity of one's gender, or the lifestyle they profess becomes the defining factor of who they are, we cannot be surprised when some moronic display like what happened in Charlottesville takes place. When we tell young men that they are misogynists, rapists, and racists just by the mere fact that they are white and male, they are going to take the identity which we have given them, that is the only thing they are told is important, and make it their rallying cry.
When we throw out the external descriptions of those around us as being valuable, we should not be surprised when those who hold prominence of a particular hue of skin try to assert power based on that trait they can do nothing about. And there is the rub. There is the sticking point. We are a nation in denial because we make important the very things that are out of our control. I can do nothing about being born a white male. I'm sorry. I come from Dutch-Swedish-German-British stock that makes my skin burn rather than tan. When I was conceived my chromosomes aligned as XY, not XX. I cannot tout as so awesome that which I did not choose.
As a society we think that we can re-align the stars by making external decisions about the grandeur of the human condition, but we are so weak. We are so powerless. Whiteness is not supreme, blackness is not inferior. White skin does not make one more holy, brown skin does not damn someone to hell. Being male is not a sign of pride, while being female is some sort of demonic possession needing exorcising.
I write this for my brothers and sisters who have been hurt by the opposite gender, by those who make them less because God has made them beautifully different. I write this for those who think that only one group of people is racist, sexist, homophobic, bastardly abhorrent. I write this for those who cannot actually believe that the ones they have been told to hate are actually people, and those people that are hated because someone said that they are supposed to. I write this for those who see the world as something that can be controlled and refined rather than something needing to be redeemed.
We are a nation in denial. A nation who looks to what has happened and cannot believe it to be true. But we are captured by a condition of sin so prevalent and disastrous, that we have grown blind to what it is that we think we can do and not see that racism is only a symptom of the problem. Racism as found in young white men carrying torches is only one piece, of all the horrible things we can and do perpetrate upon one another.
Anyone who defines themselves by their outward appearance has chosen the very thing which will hurt them. The body we receive is destined for decay. It is destined to fall apart and fail. But we choose to make its structure the nature of our value.
A preacher once said that he had a dream in which his children would be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character. Somehow, along the way, most of us have left that behind and become just as racist as those our parents and grandparents fought against so many decades ago. Looking at our sisters and brothers based on their race and not their character. Making their race the essence of their character, instead of seeing them for who they are - as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, athletes, musicians, lovers, friends, human beings.
We are a nation of two. Two kinds of people. Those who know that they are the lost, the broken, the sinners, who see Charlottesville as a culmination of the sinfulness of humanity, and those who don't. We can only hope to have our eyes turned away from that which is outwardly "defiling" (Matthew 15:10) and pray for the day when all sorts of evil will stop coming from our hearts. Stop holding up the external as the image of perfection and know that we are whitewashed tombs awaiting the resurrection. To realize that our brothers and sisters who advocate racist hatred should not be punched in the face, but brought to understand their sinfulness and the redemption that comes through the God of mercy. A God who grants mercy, not because we look a certain way or are a certain type of people, but because he just can't help himself. As the beggars we are, the hope we have is in a God who has created and given us our gifts, not the assumption of our own goodness based on our own virtue.