by Ken Rolheiser
Racism and the truth that will set us free

I recently saw a picture of a Japanese baby on Facebook. The caption asked whether this child was to blame for pearl harbour. And I pondered whether in the future this baby would have to apologize to others her age for something that none of them were a party to.

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana). Today we have many who would rewrite history, and the danger here is in the lessons lost.

I do not want to bury the lead in this column, so here it is: “God loves all of us every single one of us; black, white, brown or any other color. Every single one of us is a child of God and he wants us to know that truth and to live that truth. We do not need to be afraid of the truth. The truth will set us free.”

This single truth so powerfully put in Father Brendan McGuire’s “Truth will set us free – Black lives matter” June 21, 2020, points us in the right direction. If every human life mattered, then many of histories atrocities could have been avoided. Remember history and do not repeat its mistakes.

The pictures of concentration camps at Auschwitz and Dachau, the images of Irish and black slaves cramped on ships, the treatment of indigenous peoples in various countries on earth, and all the pages of man’s inhumanity to man are part of our history. Do not obliterate this history but retain its lessons.

I fear for those who would erase the Holocaust, obliterate the statutes of General Lee, Stalin or Napoleon. These statues and pictures acknowledge history, the good and bad, so we can learn from it. (from “Re-writing History Won’t End Racism” Brian Fisher).

The bible includes many stories of imperfect people and immoral behaviour. These are kept for us to teach moral lessons and to reflect the love and forgiveness of God. We are all made in the image of God and are challenged to aspire to a life of love and compassion.

Today it is not enough to be without prejudice. We need to be anti-racist. “It is not enough that I am not racist, but I do not want anyone else to be able to get away with racist behavior. …We all need to own that there are prejudices and bias that do exist. And it is not okay.” (Brendan McGuire).

Our Father in heaven is a Father of mercy, not vengeance. He is ever ready to accept us when we turn back to his Love. We are lost children on our own, but with God’s advocate, the Holy Spirit, we can return.

There is a beautiful passage in Hosea 11:1-9. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Israel I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them.

“I led them with chords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them. But they refused to return to me.”

How like us. We stray, we lose sight of the way and the truth. We fall short on our mandate to love others. BUT we live in HOPE. For the Lord promises: “I will not come in wrath.”

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