Like many people today, my heart is aching today for the families of nine people and a fellow church congregation in South Carolina. First let me say that the only media commentary that I have actually read or listened to with a studied mind regarding last night’s horrific murders was from Jon Stewart. His message came down to: What are we going to do, everyone of us, to make this occurrence mean something next week or next month or next year when something like this happens again? And so I am writing this, in an attempt to suggest one thing that every parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, even a good friend, can do – today or tonight – and make a difference.
Talk to your children about race. That’s right, and especially if you are a Christian. What happened last night in a church in South Carolina is not primarily about guns or politics! It’s about race! The KKK and white supremacists are to Christianity as ISIS and jihadist Muslims are to the average Muslims. It is our responsibility to make sure that the children we love know the difference and understand that racial hatred was addressed by Jesus Christ in His ministry. When? Do you remember the story of Jesus meeting a woman at the well? She was a Samaritan. Remember Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan? Why did He say that a Levite and a priest passed the injured man by but a Samaritan did the right thing and cared for the injured man? Samaritans were a ethnic race of Jews who married non-Jews. They were avoided/shunned and hated by the Jews! When Jews traveled they journeyed around Samaria because they wanted nothing to do with Samaritans!
The young man who has been arrested for this shooting in South Carolina did not come to know this hatred by picking up a book and reading about it. He had beliefs that a race of people were inferior and/or responsible for the decay of society and his family’s financial troubles through whatever mind-washing he had been exposed to in his maturing years and it now drove him to last night’s mission. That rhetoric came from someone who had ongoing access to him.
Talk to your children today about race.
If you are a grandparent, share with your grandchildren what it was like in the 50’s and 60’s when you were growing up. Do you remember the day Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated? Do you know the story of Rosa Park riding on a bus? Do you remember seeing police turn firehoses on groups of black people? Did you ever stop at a gas stations to go to the bathroom while your family was on vacation and see signs on the bathroom door “Whites Only”?
If you are a parent and on vacation, what do you say as you are walking about a city with Washington and Lincoln streets and then cross Sherman Street? Do you know what role General Sherman played in the Civil War? Have you ever read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe? You can get it on Amazon for only 99 cents on Kindle.
If you are reading this and believe I am overstating the need to make this a parental educational responsibility like faith education, then I submit that we have had 50 years of doing it the “don’t ask – don’t tell” way. How do you see that working for us? Yes, not well at all. Father’s Day is this weekend. Bluntly – it’s time for us all to “man up.”