Having grown up in a small, rural town in Minnesota, attending Midwest universities and seminary, and having served a basically German and Scandinavian church denomination, my life has been nearly all white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.
I’ve had a scattering of acquaintances among people of color or of another faith or no-faith background, but it would be a stretch to say friendships. Friendly, yes. But the kind of true friendships where you share family events and news, share meals at home, spend genuine time together, no.
It’s embarrassing. I’ve settled for a life lived in a circle that has barely overlapped any other circle. A colorless life in many ways, frequently naïve to inherent white privilege and certainly void of the rich tapestry of colorful living God intended for humanity in a broad spectrum community and world.
It has frequently been said that the most segregated hour in America, and the most segregated places in America are worship times at church, synagogue or temple. What a tragedy for the nation and for all people of all faiths.
Certainly Christians ought to have known better and done better at seeking one another out in all our variety. Ought to have done better with fewer societal walls and more open doors, hearts, lives. After all, there is (biblically) but one race, the human race. Beneath a thin veneer of pigmented skin, due not to true differences but mostly environment, lies one red-blooded hominoid, one human species with commonly shared goals of peace and justice and home and family and work and friendship etc.
The Apostle Paul, writing to a divided community in the 1st century wrote this powerful reminder: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
No more divisions. No more categories. No more limitations. No call for any kind of segregation, one from another. No need for walls at all.
Truth is, the inherent value or lack thereof of human pigment is nothing more than a figment of our broken human imagination. Imagine the misery spared, past, present and to come, if we took to heart the words of Paul and did and do what those heart-changing, live-changing words intend to become for our communities.
Do we still lack the moral courage, the creative vision, the contrition and the compassion to live that biblical truth into reality, day by day, person by person? Must our circles remain so small, so bare, so sadly limited? The alternative to change remains life-robbing violence and life-denying division. We are not meant for such small worlds after all.
Kim Latterell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.