I wrote a few days ago about the book I was reading, If These Walls Could Talk, by Dan Walsh. This story starts out in the present, a couple doing some renovations discover a strange message scratched into some of the studs. As they uncover more of the studs, they find a plea for help.
Then the writer takes us back to June 1964 and a family divided by hatred and contempt. The father and redneck older brother are determined that blacks should be subservient; the younger son believes in equal treatment for all human beings. Walsh works into his story in a very realistic way the deep-seated prejudices, the civil rights marches, hostility and subsequent violence that took place in the South at that time.
In the Afterword, Walsh writes about watching these events on the news as they were happening, including Dr Martin Luther King delivering his famous “I have a dream” speech. I believe most of us in North America would love to see his dream come true: a society where all humans are respected as equals regardless of race, ethnic origins, or religion.
It would be tragic if, after all this time and all these years of struggle and strife, people should sink back into the attitudes so prevalent back then! God forbid that society should lose what it has gained in fair treatment for all!
Anyone who has carefully read the Bible has surely seen these words:
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands…
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth…
– Acts 17: 24, 26
Sad to say, Paul Simon’s line is too often true:
“Still a man he hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”
–from his song, The Boxer
I once met a man who’d probably fit the category, “southern white trash.” Definitely a redneck. While his racial slurs were dramatic, it became apparent that the first person this man hated was himself. Though he put on a cheerful persona, those who knew him sensed he was deeply discontented with who and what he was. His own children suffered the fall-out from his frustration, too.
One time I read the memoir of a young boy who’d been verbally abused and severely beaten many times by his construction worker father. He did survive, got an education and became a vet. As a mature adult he asked his father one day, “Why were you so brutal with me?”
His father replied, “I saw your nature as being a lot like mine and I wanted to straighten you out. I didn’t want you to be like me. I wanted you to make something of yourself and have a better life than I had.”
He told his dad that beating a kid is poor way to encourage him. But the father seemed to know no other way; he probably got the same. It’s amazing that the son escaped that vicious circle.
My heart aches for people who haven’t found contentment in life — and for their victims. People who aren’t happy with themselves and what they are, will be inclined to severe depression, because hate has to have an object. If these frustrated ones don’t find some outlet for their hate it will blow their minds somehow, so they turn it on someone else. “Ah! It’s not MY fault. I’m the helpless victim here. It’s HIS/HER/THEIR fault that I don’t have a better place in life.”
Common sense won’t faze people determined to hate those they imagine are oppressing them. People determined to be victims must cast someone, some group or class, into the role of Oppressor. Sadly, the “victims” become the bullies, self-righteously striking back at their oppressors – who are often bewildered by the venom they feel from someone they don’t even know.
Hating the Haters
“I hate rich snobs!”
“I hate people who are prejudiced.”
“I despise religious hypocrites who look down on others.”
“I detest people who are intolerant.”
“I hate abusers and predators.”
“I just hate people who oppress the poor!”
“Of course I’m right for hating them because they’re so worthy of hate.”
Sad to say, if we start hating the haters, we become haters, too. Contrary to popular thinking, there is no “righteous” hatred of other humans.
God asks us to surrender all this hate, give it all to him, and show respect for all people. The good, the bad, the ugly – as much as we are able.
“Vengeance is mine, said the Lord, I will repay it.”
Through the pen of the Apostle Peter, our Heavenly Father gives us this command:
“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.”
– I Peter 2:17-18
Show the same respect to males and females, all races, rednecks and preppies, rich and poor, janitors and CEOs, the government, the Donald Trumps and Vladimir Putins of this world? Doesn’t that just choke you!
We don’t have to approve of what they do; we may denounce their actions as wrong. But Jesus clearly warns us never to call any person a fool, an idiot, or a good-for-nothing:
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
Pretty sobering stuff!
Dear Christian friends & readers, have you taken these Scriptures to heart? Each of us needs to be sure that we are as free of anger and name-calling as the Lord wants us to be.