What will make a fellow human being kneel on another’s neck, for over eight minutes and snuff out his life in the clear view of bystanders, knowing that the act was being recorded? That behavior stems from a deep dark place of hate and racism. Answering this question in detail and seeking solutions will mean exploring the root cause of these twin evils. Furthermore, answers backed by empirical work will help put in place strong retributions for repeat offenders in the future. This is an assignment to be carried out by all – including the churches, politicians, agencies, the legal community, and governments at different levels.
It is no longer news that the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota policemen has sparked global outrage and thrust to the front burner the issues of race and hatred that have lingered before and after the founding of the United States of America. The scale of protests is unprecedented and happening at a time when a global pandemic brought about by the coronavirus requires social distancing and heightened health consciousness. Floyd’s last words were, “I can’t breathe“. Indeed, America has been suffocating under the knee of racism.
According to a poll conducted in May 2018 by NBC News, a high percentage (64%) of Americans still believe that racism is a significant problem in American society and politics. A new poll, if conducted in the heat of the moment, will record a substantial spike in this same opinion.
In Christianity, there is no place for hatred; neither is there room for racism. God is love, and love is of God. The greatest commandments are explicit as they relate to Him and His most precious creation – the human race. When God created us, He set us on a journey and gave us the free will to express our unique gifts to the best of our abilities, but more importantly, for His pleasure.
He considered all beings to be of equal value. We were designed to live among men and women with no recourse to color or other physical characteristics. Out of good intentions, He equipped us with the means to dominate the earth and rule over lesser creations. And to help us along the way, He passed down commandments without which man will be lost and in which case life will be ‘nasty, brutish and short’.
When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, His response was, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ He went on to say this is the first and greatest commandment. He also said that the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-40). We are also told that these form the foundation for the other laws and prophecies.
It then presupposes that if God is love and created man in His image and likeness, and requires him to love his neighbor the same way he loves himself, then those who practice these sins are in bed with the spirit of darkness and the church needs to work harder to bring them into the light.
How did hate and racism usurp love and kindness? It is essential to establish here that nobody is born with hatred or racism ingrained in their consciousness. These are learned behaviors passed down over the years through communal skirmishes and deliberately amplified through policies put in place after various conquest by the western world.
In infancy, children are exposed to societal pressure that teaches them about external appearance instead of the internal content of a person’s character. In adulthood, people are brainwashed by those who twist biblical teachings for their parochial interests and those who seek to retain political power to oppress others.
To get to the root of this pervasive behavior, one must go to the fall of Satan, which was long before Adam and Eve’s creation. Satan was cast down to earth because of his ego, pride, and desire to equate himself with God. Ever since its sole aim is to corrupt minds and influence behaviors with the ultimate intent to destroy. Pride, the embodiment of Satan, is what makes some people believe that they are superior to others.
This is further explained by C.S. Lewis when he writes that, “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed”. This explanation may sound simplistic, but this is the truth. We have to dig down and have the courage to uproot racism if we are to rid our world of this evil and replace it with equal rights and justice.
Hate and racism are not of our Creator and therefore, should be unlearned and love learned with the church being at the forefront of this battle. Indeed, there is biological diversity in human beings; we must fundamentally understand that there is just one human race, and we are called to love unconditionally.