The history of Charleston is as bloody and dark as the history of America. It is no stranger to slavery and the oppression of African Americans with evidence on display at the Old Market Museum that was once used to auction slaves. Right there in the middle of downtown Charleston is the boldface of evil; a sign of hatred built in 1859, visible to the world 160 years later. Charleston has come a long way after slavery was abolished but, there are systems in place that have yet to change with the times. As believers, we understand the history of our nation and it can be difficult to navigate through the injustices that we may have personally experienced but, just as we are new creatures in Christ, Jesus can help us to disrupt history. Here are 3 real ways to impact change.
In politics, there is the red and blue side, the left and right side, and they’re all talking over each other trying to be heard. Millions of dollars spent on campaigns for the right to have the power to make a change, news stations cater to whatever side with the most stock has in their companies, and social media goes wild with opinionated people. No one is listening, everyone is loudly trying to make a point but, if we were to just listen to the hearts of those who are speaking, we can begin to understand what we all have in common; pain.
Just as we would never turn away a toddler running at us full speed with sharp objects in their hands if we really listened we can here the pain points others are trying to share with us. No one is born hateful or racist, or unkind, these things are taught and we can’t change the lesson until we can hear the hurt to heal it. The bible teaches us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19) because it allows the space necessary to really take in the heart of the speaker, and when we do we can use wisdom to make the next decision.
When history repeats itself and everyone is betting that it will, it just means we’re not doing enough learning. For example, when we hear racial slurs we understand how hollow they are and how ignorant the person saying them is. Ignorance is not bliss! We’re taking a stance to judge people from the comfort of our own knowledge and we’re doing our nation a disservice. The heightened caution of a drawn gun on a black male during a routine traffic stop is caused by fear of the unknown. Because of the white culture in this nation won’t stop to learn about its’ fellow black brothers and sisters, fear will define that group of people. It’s ignorant.
Instead of taking the time to learn, we are allowing emotion to dictate how good or how poorly we treat other human beings and it’s nonsensical. If we would just learn; the bible tells us to get wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 4:7). It’s harder to shoot, hate, or kill another human being when your mind is set on trying to understand them.
It’s crazy to think about how many innocent people have died at the hands of injustice, racism, and hate. It’s even crazier to think that after all this time those systems have not been completely eradicated from our present society. When a white person in America leaves their home their first thoughts aren’t on whether or not they’ll be making it back home for dinner. They can move about their lives in liberty that has not been extended to their black and brown brothers and sisters. It’s outrageous that there are systems in place, some secretly and some blatantly, that refuse to see minority races as equal! There would be no America without them, without the enforced free labor, without their suffering, and yet they receive no honor for their contributions to this great nation.
The bible tells us that God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11) and so we must take His lead in loving EVERYONE, equally. Will there be frustration? Yes. Will there be strong disagreement? Yes. Jesus is the one that binds, He is the equalizer where life isn’t about race but about love. We will be judged on how we loved God, loved ourselves, and loved our neighbor. We cannot serve God and hate our brother, no matter what color he is. Love changes all things. Love invites God into the situation and when He is present there is liberty, joy, and righteousness. More than anything, today, we need love.
Charleston is beautiful, its people are beautiful, it’s one of the top tourist attractions in our nation. People feel the warmth of hospitality when they visit and the culture is rich in spite of the stains within its history. Traces of the past can still be seen within the city but we can impact change if we listen, learn, and love the way God teaches us to. No matter what the injustice, God is waiting for His sons and daughters to rise up in the midst of darkness to be the light (Matthew 5:14) in a time such as this.