It is a downward cycle that has no end. We do not listen to someone different than us. We all have built in assumptions from past experiences. Valid assumptions from experiences that harmed us or those we love. Our histories are replete with examples. I'm not suggestion that what people have experienced does not matter or that we should get over it. This world is a broken world and each human in it is in pieces. But we will never have better than what we have right now if we continue to be reactive.
What happened in Charlottesville is reactive racism in action. Everyone's actions were really reactions based on assumptions from past experiences. Experiences that are reactions to experiences that began before anyone in Charlottesville was born. (Remember Billy Joel's song, "We Didn't Start The Fire"?) One side said take down a statue. Another side said no. Mind you there are more than two sides to any story, but these two sides showed up for a fight. The media showed white supremacists wearing helmets and body armor, using a car to kill and Black Lives Matter people carry rods to beat people. Both reacting. Is this the only way?
We need a proactive way that does not discount the hurt from past experiences, yet sets a new foundation from which to operate. Is there such a way? I believe there is. That way is Jesus, Himself. Let me explain.
Jesus does not discount anyone's experience or pain. He bears it. Did you take that in? All of the hurt, bitterness, injustice, anger, and hatred that was displayed in Charlottesville, Jesus picked up and carried. Jesus hears the cries for justice, "Someone must pay for the wrongs done!" He answers, "I'll pay."
Isaiah 53:4-6, "Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Jesus paid all the injustices, hurt, oppression, and violence you and I have experienced in our lives. And, let's be clear, He has also paid for all the injustice, hurt, oppression, and violence you and I have caused in our lives. He was innocent yet He loved each of us – black, white, etc – to pay the price when we demanded justice and when others demanded justice from us. Justice – social, racial, economic, etc – was satisfied at the cross.
And therefore there is another way, a proactive way, to move forward in race relations. It is found in Christ. Colossians 3:9-11 tells us, "…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the image of its Creator. Here (in Christ) there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." We could add to the list "no black or white, republican or democrat, liberal or conservative."
The way of Christ does not gloss over the past wrongs or tell us to get over them. No, Jesus bore the full brunt of the evil in this world on the cross. And if we surrender our burdens, hurts and bitterness to Him, and allow Him to transform us from the inside out to be the people we were originally created to be – renewed in the image of God, then we can be proactive with love and forgiveness and not reactive.
Christ is the only way forward I know of. If you have a better solution, I'm all ears.