I have a problem.
Today we visited the archives library at Ole Miss. Because of their history of race-related conflict, Ole Miss has made a severe attempt to gather the tangible history of their conflict-related past. The woman in charge, curator perhaps is the right word, Jennifer Ford, pulled together a few items from their collection, items from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
This series included a few postcards. I tried to imagine receiving one of them. I became angry at the hypothetical friend that I created for such a situation. I had a long and angry speech prepared in the event that this imaginary friend ever materialized beginning with, “Have you lost your ever-loving, God-forsaken mind?!” and ended with, “Walk away.” These postcards portrayed caricatures of African Americans smiling stupidly, stealing watermelon, being lazy. The kicker, the postcard was signed with the word “love.” Tell me, where was love in that?
Further down the table we came to the religious section. I’ll say it again because I don’t think you got it, THE RELIGIOUS SECTION. I placed in my hands pamphlets with titles such as, “The Christian View on Racial Segregation,” and “Racial Segregation and Love,” and “Biblical Justification for Racial Segregation.” Let me tell you what I know about Christianity. I’ll tell you that Jesus says that the greatest commandments are love the God and love your neighbor. I’ll tell you that Jesus said to love your enemies. I’ll tell you that the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he sent his only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have life abundantly.” (John 3:16 – emphasis added to make a point that I think God himself made blatantly clear.) So as for this Biblical justification for hatred … to my unknown predecessors I ask, What Bible were you reading?
Before this moment, I never really realized how convenient it was that Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy and many of the participants of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s were Christians. How ironic is it that this battle for Civil Rights was fought between a group of people who claimed to love God, who were commanded to love their neighbors and their enemies?
I realized the flaws in the logic that had governed my life and determined to make the change. We are all just people, all deserving of God’s love, all deserving of each other’s love.