Some things you can’t ignore. Some things you can’t run away from. You have to face them head-on. Racism is one of those things. I’m sure many of you have been following the events of Charlottesville this past weekend. The spewing hatred from those who want to “take back America.” The senseless attack that caused one death and nineteen injuries. The response from various people of interest. (I won’t mention who as I try to stick to the overlying subject.)
I know I’ve touched on this before. Yet somehow, it comes up when events like Charlottesville occur. And if there’s anyone who believes race relations aren’t an issue in 21st Century America, I implore you to look at the attacks throughout the past five years. The racially charged demonstrations. The number of lives lost of people who don’t fall under the “norm.” I could go on and on from a nationwide standpoint. But today, I want to focus on what’s going on in our communities.
Yesterday, I went to church. And before the pastor dismissed the congregation, he spoke about Charlottesville and his stand against racism. I think it’s admirable he brought up the subject. It’s something not many people have the guts to do. But I wonder if he realizes what’s going on in his congregation. There are crowds of people who are of the same race and background. There’s no melding of people different from one another. And this goes beyond church. Look at the neighborhoods. Go into any subdivision and you can guess the majority of people who live there. Go into any retail establishment and you can guess the clientele who frequent the shops. Now granted, this is pure speculation, but even speculation is rooted in some kind of reality.
The point I’m making is race relations is a huge problem. And it’s been magnified within the past several years. Unfortunately, there’s no solution in sight. The governments can put all the stipulations in place to quell the storms, but there will still be storms. Governments can’t make its citizens change their way of thinking. They can’t sway their opinions to what logically is the right thing to do. That’s up to the individual. And as long as that person has the mindset of exclusivity and superiority when it comes to race, events like Charlottesville will continue to occur.
So, the question becomes, “How do we change things?” It starts with the heart. Not to sound preachy, but the pastor made a profound statement. The heart drives everything we do. It drives our beliefs, our words, and our actions. If we want to change, it starts with the heart. If we don’t change the heart, then our efforts will be futile. Changing our heart is not easy; it’s a multilayered process. First and foremost, it takes facing reality about the world and, more importantly, ourselves. It takes a willingness to push beyond our comfort zone. Lowering our guard and stepping out on faith. A willingness to listen and understand the other person. And it’s a two-way street. It can’t be one person doing all the work. It’s a concerted effort. Everyone must be open to change.
Now, we may not change things on a grand scale. But we don’t have to. I think people get so hung up on taking giant steps and influencing a mass population. But it’s the small steps that matter. And yes, it may not garner national attention. But as long as we’re changing our hearts to respect those different from us, the perseverance will pay off. We can change the world a little bit at a time.