Easy villains are comforting. There have been some hate groups in the news recently and they certainly qualify as easy villains. I would never join one of those groups and I’m delighted to condemn them in the strongest possible terms. Further, I’m pleased to be part of a conversation about how best to combat racism and marginalise it in our society.
There are some great voices coming from people of colour about what white people should be doing and how best to be an ally in the continued movement towards equality in our culture. Please listen to those voices. They’re in the trenches and they’re the people who suffer from racial bias so it’s their voices that need to be amplified.
My responsibility, in addition to listening carefully to those voices, is to make sure I don’t get too comfortable. It would be easy for me to pat myself on the back for my progressive ways and my condemnation of racism. It would be easy for me to identify myself as someone who is “woke”. But, aside the fact that I have mountains to learn about the movement toward equality and justice, I’m also comfortable with my social position. And, if I’m really honest, I probably have some hidden and unexamined assumptions that I would never say out loud. I might not even be fully aware that I have them.
I will condemn racism and hate at every opportunity. But I might also carry with me assumptions that are racist. For the record, this doesn’t make me a worse person than anyone else. Inequality, racism, and sexism have been baked into our culture and many of us probably aren’t aware of all the ways they surround us. The more comfortable I am with the status quo, however, the less likely I am to be ready to examine my assumptions and the assumptions baked into my society.
If you’ve read this far and find yourself annoyed and throwing up your hands at this point because you’re fed up with this sort of talk, I’d ask you to pause. The hardest work any of us will ever do is to go deep into the parts of ourselves that we hide and that we hide from ourselves. That’s what I’m inviting myself to do and I’m inviting you to do it too.
Deep self-examination has always been part of our faith. Coming to terms with what we hide from ourselves, each other, and God is an essential part of our life of faith. It’s hard and it won’t be comfortable and it will come with a cost. But it also opens us up to grace and it’s by the grace of God that what is hidden is redeemed and made new. It’s by grace that we can wake to new life.