By Evan Dolive
I am constantly amazed by what my daughter (age 5) picks up. Her brain absorbs everything that is thrown at it. She has a knack of hearing a song once and can sing back with clarity hours, if not days, later. She wants to know more how the world works and she tries with all of her might to read everything that is put in front of her. The world is her playground and she is trying to figure out where she fits in it.
We were riding together going to a doctor’s appointment when she proudly declared she knew what holiday was coming up next. I inquired and she stated with confidence that “King Arthur Day” was the reason she would not be attending school on Monday. Looking for clarification, she tried to articulate the long string of names, “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.”
I asked her what she knew about Martin Luther King, Jr. and she said that he was a man who helped people who had different colors of skin. But that is not the part of the story that impacted her the most. She began to tell of King’s childhood and how there were places, even bathrooms, where he could not go because of the color of his skin. She then told the story of when King was playing with some Caucasian children; the parents of the Caucasian children came out and sent King home and instructed him to never come back; she exclaimed, “just because he had black skin!”. I could tell this struck a nerve with her and asked: “I wonder what it felt like to be sent home because of the color of your skin?” She answered, “I would not like it one bit; I hope no ever does that to anyone.” I agreed and thought to myself, “there is still hope for the world yet.”
When this car ride started I did not think I would have to try to conceptualize systemic racism in the South in the 20th and 21st Century to a five-year-old, but I am glad to hear her response. In her ever expanding and curious mind, the idea that people would be singled out for the color of their skin was antithetical to the way she understood life. Why would people ever want to do such a thing? What can be done, if anything? The answer is one that is encapsulated in the words of scripture and the teachings of Jesus the Christ, hope.
It’s no secret that the world in which we live in is deeply, deeply flawed. Every day on the news whether it is the evening news from the national stations, local news or the "24 hour repeating the same thing over and over in different words because we have time to fill news", there is a common theme, tragedy is around us, the world is raging outside the walls of our homes and communities; the human condition is rearing its ugly head. It is an amalgamation of greed, lust, hate, injustice, malice and sin. Hidden throughout there are pockets of happiness and joy which remind us that there is still hope for humanity.
This is the call of the church, the call of followers of Christ: to promote hope in a world in desperate need of it. Hope is not just wishing, thinking or believing in the power of your dreams rather it is a radical, faith-filled act that propels us to look past the here and now and see what is come with the ushering in of God’s realm in this world. Sometimes that is all that can get us through the day, the week, the month or even a year. Hope however so small is a powerful tool to drive us to reconnect to the source of all life and light.
When we look and reflect and wait we find that the world may not be as dark as we once thought sure there is work to do but there is still HOPE!
Hope in the midst of darkness there is a great light; this light will grow and illuminate the world and those try to hide in the darkness will be exposed and God’s all-encompassing love will be evident. No longer with differences separate us, no longer will sin rule over us, no longer will the darkness that pervades this world have power any more.
Maybe Stephen King put it best when he wrote, “Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.”
It is my hope that all people feel the love of God in a way that is transformative.
It is my hope that Christ’s peace and grace is extended to all people of race, creed, ethnicity and socio-economic status.
I join with my daughter and hope for a day when racism in this country will be a thing of the past and stories of it will bring disgust to the minds of the hearers.
We have a hope and it is in Christ Jesus. Let’s get to work.