All … are created equal
I invite all believers and people of good will to join me in promoting a culture of authentic encounter, dialogue and inclusion.
When the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were first adopted, the primary concern of the drafters was male land-owners rather than women and children, the poor, slaves. Since then there has been a growing awareness that the founding principles apply also to those who were here before European colonizers arrived as well as those who have immigrated here through the centuries. However, this inclusionary concept is being severely challenged in our land today.
Racism has deep roots here and extends to all people of color — Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders. There is also animosity against Jews, Muslims, and communities of faith. A mean-spiritedness in our midst is being stirred up by fringe hate groups and encouraged by politically divisive and inflammatory rhetoric. While the majority of citizens may find this offensive and/or bewildering and prefer to remain silent in their private lives, the chaos into which we are descending demands that everyone stand up, declare, and act upon the belief that all are created equal.
As a believer, I firmly hold that every human life has intrinsic value, dignity and rights because everyone is created in the “image and likeness” of God. According to the Bible God’s plan is that all his children — without exception — learn to recognize one another as sisters and brothers and seek the well-being of all our neighbors.
However, insecurity, fear and lack of true knowledge about “outsiders” lead to bias, prejudice, discrimination, racism. This can all too easily escalate into violence and even death. These actions cause deep fragmentation, division and polarization in our society that make it virtually impossible to cope with the rapidly changing world in which we live — with serious political, sociological, psychological, economic, and geopolitical consequences.
Some are advocating and enacting policies that are based on half-truths, emotions and outright lies. This feeds and deepens attitudes and expressions of racism. There is a tragic lack of knowledge about the reality, the truth of our national life today! Everyone has a responsibility for learning about the truth and disseminating it — not only the media but everyone who communicates, especially those who use social media.
Racism is a moral issue, a radical evil that calls for a radical response. Racism is a social evil deeply rooted in our society with political, social, financial dimensions. It is dividing our populace, competing for scarce resources, demanding huge amounts of money, affecting our national psyche and ethos, keeping us from prospering. As citizens, we need to name racism when we find it and to resist it firmly and courageously, but always in nonviolent ways. We also need to ask God’s forgiveness and mend our ways!
I invite all believers and people of good will to join me in promoting a culture of authentic encounter, dialogue and inclusion. This will require building bridges — not walls — among peoples. We will have to insist on the truth and on facts rather than on rumors, conspiracy theories or falsehoods. We can work together in fruitful collaboration for the common good of our society. Let us learn to walk in solidarity with and care for all of our neighbors!