Last week when I was preparing to leave town; I drove up in my driveway with a rental car. It was evening and we were planning to leave the next day. I had been home about 2 minutes when my phone rang. My next door neighbor Henry was calling to say that he didn't think the lights on my rental car were working. He asked if I would meet him in the driveway so we could take a look at it. I did; and it was an easy fix. I'm accustomed to the light switch being set to automatic. Instead it was switched to “off.” We fixed it and Henry shook my hand, wished me safe travels and a “Happy Thanksgiving.” I wished him the same. Henry is a good man and a good neighbor. In all honesty we have very little in common. I'm a 40-something white man from Oklahoma. Henry is a 70 year old black man from Louisiana. We have little in common, except for the fact that we both want to be good neighbors and genuinely care for those who live around us. A few months ago Henry had a stroke and we put his name on our church prayer list. God has been gracious to Henry in granting a recovery. And God has been gracious to me in giving me a neighbor like Henry.
Henry's wife Jerri is equally sweet. Anytime we leave town she checks our mail for us and waters our plants. Their three teenage sons are hard working and extremely polite. About a year ago, I backed a small U-Haul truck into my driveway to unload some things I brought down from Oklahoma. Before I could get the door open, Henry and his boys were in the yard to help me unload. I don't think there are a lot of people in this world who are any better neighbors than Henry's family. But I would like think there are more folks like them, than what we see on the news in places like Ferguson, MO. In fact, I suspect there are black and white neighbors in Ferguson who get along well also, but the media has no interest in showing them. Riots boost TV ratings.
Some white folks wrongly assume that all black people are thugs. And some black folks wrongly assume that all white folks are racists. Both of these caricatures are inaccurate, but these ideas exist for a reason. All black people are not thugs. But some are. All white people are not racist. But some are. (By the way, it's also true that some white people are thugs. And some black people are racist). But for any positive strides to be made in race relations, both sides have to admit to fact that there are some of “their people” who are guilty.
Last week a policeman in Lake Charles gave me a speeding ticket. What if I had thrown a fit and said, “You're just giving me a ticket because you don't like white people!”? I would have been laughed at and ignored. We all know white people can't be discriminated against. (Even when they're being discriminated against). Rather than immediately looking for a lame excuse to blame for my ticket. Maybe I should examine the facts. The speed limit was 25. I was driving 37. Maybe the policeman wasn't picking on a white man. Maybe he was enforcing the law. At the very least; I should assume that and alter my future behavior rather than justify it and blame others for my problems.
I'm not so naive as to assume that racism is non-existent in America today. But I believe the media and many politicians poison the well and fan the flames of hatred for their own personal benefit. Regardless of whether or not you like Barack Obama, the facts are clear that he has made a career off of dividing people. He acts likes he sympathizes with the inner city black man who cries “discrimination.” Yet Obama conveniently forgets to point out that he is actually a half-white, rich kid who went to a prominent upscale high school in Hawaii, then was ivy-league educated. He has spent his life as a pampered, spoiled brat. And he still lives that way. The black person who thinks Obama “feels their pain” is delusional. Obama is “sitting pretty” just as he always has. And the more racial division there is in America, the better it is for him. He will use it to seize more power and make himself look like the peacemaker that he is not.
The solution for race relations is simple in theory; yet difficult in practice. Rather than judging by skin color, we should judge by actions. A man who steals is a thief, regardless of whether he is white or black. A man who burns down a business is an arsonist, regardless of whether he is white or black. A man who takes an innocent person's life is a murderer, regardless of whether he is white or black. Living with this mindset sounds simple enough. So why is it so hard? Because many people have a vested interest in racial division. Many people have a financial interest in racial division. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Barack Obama stand to lose considerable clout if we all truly get along. That's bad business for them. (Even though it would be good business for America).
I believe what the media portrays in Ferguson, MO is not the norm in America. I believe my neighbor Henry and I are the norm. Outwardly we may have little in common. But in truth we are quite like-minded. He looks out for me and I look out for him. I would trust his family far more than many white families in this world. Not because of skin color, but because of proven character. I know what kind of person Henry is because he's proven it time and again over the years. Hopefully my family and I have done the same for them. Forget the skin color and examine the deeds. An honest man is an honest man and a thief is a thief. Regardless of skin tone. Watch how people act and listen to the things they say. And judge them based on facts, rather than the twisted views put forth by the media and the hack politicians who are only looking for more ways to line their pockets and increase their power by dividing the people.