By Rob Lee
Over the last few years, our news has been dominated by headlines regarding racism. Movements such as “Black Lives Matter” highlight how people of colour, are being racially targeted by authorities. The Indigenous people in Canada through the Truth and Reconciliation Committee are showing how our First Nations peoples are not being treated fairly not only by the authorities but also by the criminal justice system and social support mechanisms. Recently we are becoming more aware of how people of Asian decent are being racially targeted. The RCMP and Canadian Military have also acknowledged that there is systemic racism and prejudice within their organizations.
So, what are we as Christians to make of all this and what are we to do?
In Matthew 7: 1-3: Jesus says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way, you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your friend’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
From these words Christ is calling us to begin to look at ourselves and determine whether or not we judge others unfairly and why? Is it because of their sex, race, colour, age or religious beliefs?
When I look at myself, growing up in Peterborough, Ontario and reflecting on some of my parents’ own biases, they really came out of the history of our nation. I recognize now that there were always French versus English issues and Protestant versus Catholic tensions which was further emphasized for example, by the separate school system that Catholic kids attended.
When I went to the University of Waterloo, having a last name like Lee, people naturally thought I should be sitting with the Asian students. Moving to Edmonton was another major adjustment. My first encounter in the city was going to Heritage Days and being amazed that so many different nationalities and culture groups live here.
My Aunt married a First Nations Chief of the Ojibwa Tribe. While not much was ever shared with me about this, I knew the topic was very contentious and unfortunately it is only in the last decade where I have gotten to know my many cousins.
Audrey was bullied and discriminated against growing up because of her German background.
What about the generalizations we make about others? “Oh that guy on the street is good for nothing. He is a just a lazy drunk.” Perhaps that individual has health issues that we do not even know about.
Christ wants us to recognize our own biases and then get to know others. In fact, Christ does not even want us to judge others, as we likely do not have all the facts, particularly about people we do not know. He simply calls us to love one another and that is what Christians need to do.
“Lord help us to see our own biases and prejudices and help us to learn to love our neighbours as ourselves.”