Thursday, July 31, 2008

Are People Inherently Prejudiced?

Katdish asked this question on her blog on July 19, 2008. If you click on the title of this post, you will be taken to her blog posting which inspired this subject. I wanted to leave a comment, but I needed to think. She has posted other stuff since then, and I am still thinking...

How many times have I heard the phrase "I'm not prejudiced, but..." ? I hate that phrase, because usually what follows it is something that reveals prejudice. Have I ever found myself ready to say that phrase? Unfortunately, yes. I have been fortunate enough to be able to stop myself ahead of time, so that I can work on these thoughts and reflect where they come from, and if they are prejudiced. I say fortunate, because my own prejudgements are not things I am proud of, and don't want to reveal them to anyone. It's like dirty underwear. I suspect everyone has some, but I don't want to wave mine around in public. As a matter of fact, I don't like waving them around in private either. I want to deal with it by cleaning it up. Anyways, that is a gross analogy, although I think quite appropriate.

Are these prejudices things we are born with? I think that is a yes and no answer. Like original sin, I think we are born with the sense that our own ways of doing things are the best. I know lots of Poles and Hungarians that can quote sayings from "the old country" in a way to make you think they believe that "the old country" is wisdom headquarters. I think that may be true for all or at least most nationalities, and as a country made up of many peoples, we have a lot of that going on.

Then there is direct racism. I don't know if anyone else has experienced this, since I consider this the worst of my dirty undies, my parents sort of talked out of both sides of their mouths about race. They would sit me down, and say the perfect "There is good and bad in all races and nationalities. No one ethnicity is better than the other. All races are equally good and equally sinful", but then do things like remind everyone to make sure the car doors were locked if we were stopped near a bus stop where a black man was waiting. Or I would be warned to hold on to my purse if we saw a black man in the store. Yes, I am ashamed to be admitting this. I wish this weren't true, but if I'm going to answer this on my blog, I am going to answer honestly.

Obviously these prejudices weren't inherent is the sense that I was born with them. I was taught them. By parents who learned and accepted it from someone or somewhere else without examining them. I am no better than them. I reflected on this and examined these actions because...I have black friends. I know, that is a phrase a lot like "I am not prejudiced, but...". I hear this a lot when someone says something racist. I try not to use that phrase for the same reason. But there is no other way to tell you why I started reflecting on things that became so reflexive. One day it dawned on me that there are people who lock their doors and clutch their purses when they see my friends, and I became deeply ashamed, These friends are better Christians than I, and yet if I didn't know them personally, I would lock or clutch.

I would be proud if I could say I don't even recognize racial differences while driving or walking in a store. I'd be a liar if I did. I don't clutch my purse anymore, I just look up and smile. I hope the recipient of the smile isn't thinking "this white woman is only noticing me because I am black". I hope the recipient thinks I am friendly. I hope anyone who meets me thinks I am friendly. I mainly hope that I am overcoming the sinful prejudices within me. I know God cleanses me of all sin. But my sin hurts others. I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't want to be a bad person. I want to be a proper sister to all of God's children.

Katdish also asked about whether we are more moved by seeing sick or hungry children of our own race. I don't think so. But then, my parents never taught me to prefer children of my own race. That was why they were giving me the "everyone is equal" lecture. My school was being intergrated, and they were encouraging me to be kind and friendly to the new kids. They wanted me to welcome them, and play with them, and behave in the way a good Christian child should. They got it half right. They tried. They weren't perfect. Neither am I. Only Jesus Christ is perfect. I lean on Him and depend on His grace. I know He forgives all sins repented, even those against Himself. Afterall, Jesus was not caucasian. Whatever race He is, He is my Saviour.

By the way, if you are reading this, Katdish, I hope you still like me, now that I have shown the dank, stinky parts of my soul.

God be with you!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Psalm 8

8:1 O Lord, our Lord, whose glory is higher than the heavens, how noble is your name in all the earth!

8:2 You have made clear your strength even out of the mouths of babies at the breast, because of those who are against you; so that you may put to shame the cruel and violent man.

8:3 When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have put in their places;

8:4 What is man, that you keep him in mind? the son of man, that you take him into account?

8:5 For you have made him only a little lower than the gods, crowning him with glory and honour.

8:6 You have made him ruler over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet;

8:7 All sheep and oxen, and all the beasts of the field;

8:8 The birds of the air and the fish of the sea, and whatever goes through the deep waters of the seas.

8:9 O Lord, our Lord, how noble is your name in all the earth!

How great our God is! David sang of God's glory so well, and yet words can't capture His illuminous beauty and awesome power! God loves me! Why? Because that is what God does! But I am so unlovable much of the time, and God, who reads my heart, knows its stinky places. He loves me anyway. Because I am not so bad after all? No! Because God is so powerful, He can do anything. And that includes loving me, even though He knows all of me.

By the way, I lost the poetry contest. Not even an honorable mention. That is okay. The exercise was good for my soul.

Internet Down

Hello again! My internet has not been working for a little over a week, so I haven't been able to post. The good news is, my house is clean. Not OCD clean, but the best it has been in a while. (My CDO is not the compulsive cleaning kind, but the kind where appliances may magically replug themselves and start fires while I am not looking. That is why every time I leave the house, I check the toaster and coffee pot at least three times, the stove twice, and run back and forth three times making sure the door is locked, before I finally just ask my husband to "double check me").
Besides a clean house, there is not much I can add. I'm planning a party for two weeks from today. My old, disbanded prayer group did not have a Christmas party this year because the couple that hosts it was feeling under the weather. I love Christmas, but feel embarrassed that I don't do decorating well so I decided to have an Easter party instead. Bigger and better holiday theologically speaking anyway (some day I will write about why Easter, and not Christmas, is my favorite holiday). Yeah, I know I missed Easter by a mile, but a member of the former group, who is also a family member of mine and a dear friend of my husband's (best man at our wedding) was being operated on at the time (whipple surgery, very big deal). He is well loved not only by my husband and me, but by the whole former group. Without him here, the "party" would have been a gathering of "How is he? Will he be okay? What did you hear and when did you hear it?" So we waited until he'd be well enough to attend. Now I guess it's a sort of Thanksgiving party. Not Thanksgiving as in harvest festival, but Thanksgiving that our friend's health is improving. And with Thanksgiving, we'll offer petition for his continued healing.
Hope. That, too, is a big deal.