On Anger, Racism, and Other Foolishness

And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
(Genesis 4:10)

A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
(Proverbs 18:6-7)

This rainy morning finds me somewhat melancholy. For one, I blew my top at my eldestFight004 yesterday. Although he did not deserve to shoulder the brunt of my wrath, he was the unfortunate person in my path when I reached a tipping point. I took my eyes off the Lord and focused on my problems instead, and I am heartbroken at my own foolish response to my child.

 

I am, however, proud to say that he handled the whole thing with maturity that put me to shame. But today, another problem also grieves my heart: the ridiculous and entirely insane fact of racism. I have never understood this issue. I never will.

In high school, I had the misfortune to be admired by a boy who belonged to a group of Neo-Nazi skinheads; a racist group that existed in my town in the 1990s.  I recall one of his friends handing me some printed material – some preposterous drivel about sending the black people back to Africa and taking back “our” country.

Far from gaining my respect, this nonsense raised a cold fury in my heart. One of my closest – and indeed, one of my only – friends at the time was black. Of all the people in my grade, she was also quite possibly the one I respected the most.

Refusing to be defined by any clique, Miss C was funny, gregarious, and cheerful even when life was hard. When depression eclipsed my heart and I became sullenly withdrawn, often behaving like a complete freak, she still always treated me with a dignity I knew I didn’t deserve. Thus, for some combat boot-wearing child to tell me that she needed to be shipped back to Africa aroused only my contempt.

Needless to say, that little boy never earned my affection, but he has since earned my pity.  How sad a life to believe oneself superior to another by a mere accident of birth! How wretched to be so lacking in logic as to think white skin gives one a “rightful” claim to a land mass that was originally wrested from a brown-skinned people. How horrible to live so full of hate and darkness.

My response to the Neo-Nazi race propaganda remains the same today as it was when I was a teen. Though we might share a skin color, we emphatically do not share an ideology. If anyone ought to be shipped back anywhere, it is us representatives of a lighter-skinned population – the descendants of land thieves, exploiters, and slave-owners.

Although I am ashamed that these things likely lurk in my ancestral closet, I am not my ancestors. Personally, I agree wholly with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. that each of us ought to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our epidermis.

Recently, the above-mentioned friend posted on Facebook about several instances of racism she has experienced in her life, some flung out by foolish peers and others perpetrated by authority figures. It grieves me to think of those incidents, and again I admire her that she has never given up hope in the human spirit despite such atrocities.

Then… then I heard about what happened in Virginia. May I state something for the record? As a white woman, I utterly reject any such notion as “white supremacy.”  The very idea of something as arbitrary as pigmentation offering any people group supremacy over another is not only abhorrent, it is entirely illogical.

As if my friend or any other person has any control over the very fact of being born! To hate someone for that is the very paramount of ridiculousness.

Oh, people! Have we still not learned? There is truly only one race among humanity; we are all of the human race. Despite differences in skin color, hair color, eye color, geography,  or intelligence quotient, we are all subject to the same curse of sin. It is sin that breeds such nonsense as racism. It is also sin that bears a grudge and refuses to forgive.

Today, I am sorry for all the atrocities of human nature, for every news headline that demonstrates the truth of words penned so many centuries before: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

I weep for those damaged by racism and hatred; both those who are its victims as well as those whose souls are devoured by such cancerous hatred. I pray for my beautiful nieces whose skin is browner than mine, that they may see the goodness of God more completely because of the evil of mankind. I love that my own children have friends of many colors, shapes, sizes, and nationalities.

I also long for mankind to judge rightly, assessing one another by the content and expression of character rather than arbitrary cosmetic differences. More than that, I hope that we will learn to humbly apply the standard most rigorously to our own sorry selves.

Yet even as I write, I realize that I stand condemned by my own character as evidenced by my childish outburst mere hours ago. It seems that we will need something more than character. As a species, we are in need of grace.

As Ravi Zacharias wrote, “…no matter what part of the world we come from or what strata of society we represent, we must all admit our own shortcoming–that we only feel exonerated when we gauge our level of saintliness in comparison to someone else of lesser esteem.”

My friends and brothers of all colors, we are all of lesser esteem.

The solitary standard by which we may rightly measure our own character or that of another is the perfect standard of holiness – the standard of God Himself expressed in human flesh by the works and person of Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ).

If you are tempted to look down on another person, look up to Him first. He alone offers true grace, for He is the sole owner of holiness and worthy of reverence. The rest of us stand condemned daily by our own, innumerable childish outbursts.

One final plea – as you do look to Him, be certain that you are looking to Him alone. Humanity has perpetrated many evils in His name, all of which will be called to account someday. Beware of discarding the veracity of God because of the fumbling mishandling of sinful humanity.

No matter where you stand on the issue of racism, know that the sinful expression of anger is only foolishness. Even those of us who are victims must be careful of our responses. My rather loud outpouring of fury to my son last night was no less an expression of foolishness than that of the anger-fueled murder of other people in Virginia days ago.

I feel deep sorrow for my angry words, and I feel no less sorrow for the very fact of racism. Yet as I was reminded rather painfully last night, responding in anger only feeds a fire which already rages out of control, damaging all who are caught in its blaze without regard to complicity.

With full understanding that by giving vent to my anger I have played the part of a fool, I leave you with a Proverb as it is translated from the original Hebrew by David H. Stern, a Messianic Jewish scholar:

Don’t answer a fool in terms of his folly, or you will be descending to his level; but answer a fool as his folly deserves so that he won’t think he is wise.

Proverbs 26:3-4, CJSB

My friends, let us no longer act as fools and beasts ruled by our impulses, but let us instead submit in humility to God and allow Him to set us apart for holiness instead, agreeing with His definitions of goodness and truth, imitating His example of perfect love, and shunning evil – especially the evil that lies in our own hearts.

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(As a side note, all comments on this website are modereated. While America may still play at offering freedom of speech, I do not, nor do I tolerate disrespect. Any useful, respectful, gracious words will published; all hateful comments or angry retorts will be heartily ignored).