Two things abhor me. First, the amount of hate-filled violence presently overwhelming our “civilized” society. Second, the incomprehensible fact that some rationalize the violence by appealing to the name of God.
Somewhere in the sick recesses of evil minds more than a few warped individuals have conjured up the belief that God loves them more than others, giving them the right to harm or kill those they deem undeserving.
Clearly those who rationalize white supremacy do not read the same Bible or follow the same Jesus many of us do. They somehow miss that the world-renowned story of the Good Samaritan was told in response to the question, “Who is my neighbour?”
The obvious answer?
Your neighbour might be one who is racially, religiously and socio-economically as unlike you as anyone you could imagine. They miss that when asked to distil the laws of religion into one all-encompassing nugget Jesus responded by indicating that the whole law can be summarized in two concepts: Love God and love your neighbor. Incidentally, the above-mentioned story of the Good Samaritan was told because someone in the crowd didn’t like the love your neighbor part and wanted clarity on who he could exclude from his love circle.
I leave it to those with legislative power to deal with legal solutions to the crisis. Legislators can no longer dodge responsibility and hide behind meaningless cliché’s designed to keep their supporters happy. However, it is not all on the hands of legislators. The rest of us must also embrace our personal responsibility to stem the tide of violence sweeping across North America.
We need to ruthlessly evaluate and eliminate even the most minute particles of intolerance, exclusiveness and smug superiority that co-exist in our mostly civilized minds.
We need to fully embrace our responsibility to teach our children the value of human life.
We need to eschew our warped sense of individual entitlement and restore the higher value of living meaningfully in community with others who are both like and unlike us.
It is possible to create communities where individuals bent on hatred and destruction stand out so obviously that they are easily identifiable and dealt with. It will take an intolerance of subcultures of hatred where they hide and blend in. It will also take a vision and commitment to eradicate the isolationism out of which so many of them emerge.
It is difficult to disagree with the observation that much of our “entertainment” is consumed with violence and that it contributes to the problem.
The solution, however, is not just more legislation. It is a change of values that results in such a distaste for violence that violent entertainment becomes unprofitable. That power lies within each of us and in each and every home.
Over the past several seasons, the B.C. Lions, among other sports teams, have embarked on campaigns to eliminate attitudes that foster violence against women. Sports figures have called on men to stand up and speak out whenever a harmful attitude is displayed.
It’s time to take their campaign up a notch. Anytime any of us encounter an attitude that indicates superiority of one group over another, shows disrespectful or demeaning behavior, or simply lacks the value of living meaningfully in community, we need to speak up.
The tide of racism and violence must stop now!
Tim Schroeder is a pastor with Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna.