The headlines for the past year or so have reminded us that the issues of race, gender, orientation, and a myriad of other identity markers still exist. Whether the news headline is the stupid comments of someone, the poor choices of another, or even the offhanded neglect, we see prejudice has not disappeared.
As long as we see someone else as an “other” we will wrestle with prejudice. For many of us, we don’t like to think of ourselves as prejudice, but when we are stressed, pushed, or tired, our preference for those like us arises and our dislike for those not like us is evident.
I grew up an “Army Brat” and I am grateful for the perspectives it brought to my life. I met people from across the globe with mixed family heritages and viewpoints. I count this as foundational in my worldview. The fact that my two best friends in high school were from a different ethnic backgrounds and that many of my closest classmates were too, has helped shaped the way I see race, gender, and many of the labels we place on a one another.
I think the way we battle prejudice is with perspective.
If you’ve ever said, “you’re not like he rest of them,” then you’ve admitted your preference and prejudice, but you’ve also taken a step into perspective. When we are able to perceive others for who they are instead of the caricatures we have been taught, things change.
Let’s be real:
– not every gay person has an agenda
– not every black person is in a gang
– not every Hispanic is a drug dealer
– not every feminist is a bitch
– not every redneck is a racist
– not every rich person is greedy
– not every poor person is lazy
– not every Christian is…..
I hope you get the point.
Let’s stop accepting the prejudices out there. Let’s start gaining perspectives on how others see the world.
Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech resonates so strongly with our society because it points out our differences, but it also helps us dream of a different perspective, of valuing one another.
King was not the first nor the last to dream of seeing one another differently. Without a doubt King’s dream was influenced by the one who did not live within prejudice but rather brought a new perspective.
In the first century, a leader of a minority group of devoted followers of The Way, wrote these words:
Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:7-11 NLT)
Paul is writing this to remind the followers of The Way who lived in Rome that thought they were different than God, and had offended God, God did not allow that to make him prejudice against them. Rather God’s perspective of humanity caused him to act to bring friendship.
How would our world be different if we combated prejudice with the perspective of friendship?
I’m not perfect in this effort to gain the perspective of friendship. I hope you’ll help me, as a friend, when you see me act out of my preference or prejudice.