Trouble in Paradise

Trouble in Paradise

Just when I thought I lived in the ideal diverse community, with no racial majority, hopes were shattered by hateful words painted all over the windows of a beauty salon owned by an African American woman I knew. A few years before, two Sikh men were killed as they walked peacefully in the community, shot by a sniper who likely saw their white headdresses and out of hate for “the other” gunned them down. And, then I remembered several times as I was walking my dog in the community park, persons driving large pickups with confederate flags hanging on the back, aggressively through the park, showing off the power they felt. But, I thought this was in the past. Then, as the community began meetings to address the racism these and other incidents, it became clear we had to deal together with prejudice that came with the diversity we were so proud of.

Since that time, additional evidences of prejudice in my paradise community have made it crystal clear that we’ve got a problem we cannot dismiss as just a few bad actors. Sadly, it is now clear that our schools also need to face racism within their student body as racist videos have surfaced that speaks painfully that generations have not learned how sinful our actions towards each other are.

Then as I sadly observed that racism continues generationally in diverse communities, and not simply from communities where other races have faced opposition to their presence, more events have taken place. Sadly, it was evident in the highest office of our land and reflected among the defenders of race based politics in our nation’s debate over immigration and the diverse presence of people from countries predominately of persons of color.

Even if you think we can dismiss these events as not really reflective of our communities and nation, as persons of faith we are called to a greater examination based upon our understanding of sin and it’s denial of the gift God has given all people as made in God’s image.

The bottom line of all this is a reminder that I have to face the places in my heart where I often have hidden attitudes of racism that prevent me from totally embracing my sister or brother. And, we must together find a new path that brings our local communities and our nation together for the sake of the world God has given us to share as One people.

When we hear the word, “Racism”, more and more there seems to be a denial of its presence in our world, our country, our inner selves. Perhaps we may defend ourselves from the label, defend our country and it’s leaders, or even blame the newcomer as “taking something from us”. But, let’s look at this from our faith life that helps us face the fact that as the story of Adam and Eve remind us while we have been given a paradise from God, our sin is that we want to possess it for ourselves. And when that happens, like Adam and Eve we turn on the other, for the sake of keeping it “pure”. We have been given a wonderful world to live in by God, together, so that all people be blessed as children of the parent of us all.

Peace and Care, Pr. Ron Zoesch