In my quest to contemplate in 2021 (Your Word For 2021), I stepped out of my comfort zone. I contemplated the possibility that my beliefs could be wrong. Admitting to being wrong requires humility.
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.
You might argue that my experience was wrong, but you can’t say it didn’t happen. It was real. And, I believe, it was good. Maybe not exactly fair, but I learned early that life isn’t fair.
You know I’ve been quiet about beliefs other than Christianity. I don’t share my political views or chosen type of religion. (Sometimes I want to discuss horrifying political rhetoric, but that could get out of hand!)
In today’s explanation for contemplation, I must bring things to a more “public” level. I don’t want to start a firestorm. It is my experience, and you may disagree with it. And, that’s fine with me. We can talk about it.
But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:9)
That’s the beauty of a free country. We can disagree, discuss things rationally and honestly. At the end, we can agree, and if needed, agree to disagree. Live and let live. That’s how I was raised.
You can respect the person and their opinion, even when you don’t agree with their opinion.
(Thanks, Mom and Dad. That has served me well.)
At eight years old, we moved from Chicago to an Atlanta suburb. Talk about a tough season! My brothers got spankings (aka paddlings, their first ever) with a wooden paddle the first week of school.
And, I was petrified of my teacher. The elder grey haired teacher clearly didn’t like little yankees. Pardon the term, but that’s what we were (in their eyes, well her eyes anyway).
My southern third-grade teacher didn’t know I was born in the south. I was one of her kind, and she didn’t even know it! I picked up the northern accent when my father got a job in Chicago and moved our family there. That teacher, as mean as she was, taught me to see that her kind wasn’t my kind.
Mean teacher and I were both southerners, but she was prejudiced. Against me. I never saw her prejudice against another student. Only me. It was probably there, but I didn’t see it. I only felt my own mistreatment and didn’t understand it. Perhaps that’s the root of racism – a blindness to the natural human experience, the unfairness of life we feel, even when those of other colors and races experience the same things.
Years later, I could finally describe it with words. Feelings of fear and confusion and shame. I don’t know if she treated my classmate, Jackie, in the same way she treated me. I hope not! But it could be. She was a real meanie, that teacher.
Prejudiced-me would call her that mean, old bitty teacher. (There probably was prejudice against my southern drawl when we first moved to Chicago, too. I was too young, at four, to notice such things. That disappeared as I took on the little yankee accent. Wink.)
Back to the story.
This little yankee saw one lone black girl in school, Jackie Hopkins. I will never forget her. I don’t remember if I had black classmates in Chicago. Probably not. Schools may have been segregated then. When we moved back to the south, schools were integrated. Segregation. Integration. New words for me at eight years old. More that I didn’t understand.
I remember that Jackie stood out in the sea of white. She was always smiling. Everyone loved Jackie. Jackie seemed happy, and I considered her my friend.
I was encouraged by my parents to love Jackie, just as I should love everyone. It appeared that everyone had the same attitude towards Jackie. We all liked her, for real! Not because we “should” but because she was friendly. That view doesn’t fit the narrative of today, but my experience of the south has not been with racist brothers and sisters. At all.
In her lone-ness of being the only black girl, Jackie and I shared the lone-ness of different types. Mine was the label yankee. The lone little yankee.
The following school grade was better. My fourth grade teacher was nicer. (And maybe a little less yankie-phobic or my southern drawl was returning? Ha!) I can laugh about it now, but as a child, I was confused. (As an Enneagram Four, I was always confused. I never measured up and felt deficient, lacking what others had in some way. Not lacking possessions but abilities. I was a slow reader.)
While living, supposedly, in a black suppressive South, I was taught to love all people. All colors. All races.
Honestly, I did far better with the loving all colors part. Loving all races was harder to embrace in my heart. There. Honesty. Couldn’t we all use more of that?
I believe it’s because I don’t understand other cultures as much as those I grew up knowing. I remember a set of twin Chinese girls in one of my college courses. They were brilliant! I was slightly envious of their grades but frankly and openly admit that my study habits lacked the commitment level of the twins.
As image bearers of God, we are to follow the example He showed through Jesus.
For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:11)
These girls were very sweet! They talked about China and why they came to the U.S. to study. It appeared to me that they were part of the “Chinese chosen” to be successful. Chosen by their government. Their communistic regime decided to force certain scholastic standards on certain citizens.
The Chinese twins intrigued me. They impressed me. With no real commonality, I didn’t try to develop a deeper friendship. They had each other. I had my freedom. After graduation, they were to return to China, to serve their government (whatever that meant).
In our country of respected diversity, I knew these girls would be fine. Even at a great distance, their communistic government “took care of them”.
I respected the twins and their scholastic aptitude. It clearly came with a trade-off. They had no freedom. They performed by force. I performed (or did not) by choice. I had freedom. So, I felt slightly sorry for them.For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:11) Click To Tweet
As for contemplating any wrong actions on my part, I listened to podcasts, read blog posts, viewed interviews, etc. of others (mostly black) stating their racial experience. While I don’t understand the systemic racism exactly (because that’s not my experience), I can live and let live.
I can say what I’m thinking when I want to encourage someone for doing a good job. No matter their race or color. People who know me may not say I’m shy. Because they know me, I talk. I am shy in a group, though. I’m bashful with people I don’t know (and even some I do know).
I clamp my mouth shut before I expose my ignorance. You know the old saying. You know of what I’m speaking, about proving my ignorance with my words. Better to not open my mouth and reveal it!
In life, no matter the race or color, we all have to work hard. I learned. We all have barriers. It’s called life. Little yankee, you will move on. The next teacher did the right thing. They weren’t all against little yankees, just that one. They aren’t all against this color or that race. Just that one.
Oh, and back to my listening to other views. It became clear that the others (my apposers) were less interested in contemplating the other side from their own views. I am willing to embrace their side (agree to disagree and attempt to understand more fully), but they are not willing. Even those on a site touting for being “contemplative”, they were clearly not listening to anyone else or trying to learn another viewpoint. Only their own rhetoric. Blinded by their own slant.
Even sometimes when like-minded in faith, we sadly divide.
I prayed for them – and for my openness to God’s truth. Isn’t that the best thing to do? No yelling and screaming at them. Just pray. God heals all, in His timing.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
With the goal of growing the Kingdom of God, it all comes down to Jesus. Jesus did not see color. Or race. Or age. Or southern drawl. Or little yankee (wink). Only love.
Can we love, you and I? Can we contemplate things in a balanced way? Can we talk about this rationally, honestly, and lovingly?
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow~