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Let freedom ring in me

Published 9:07pm Friday, July 5, 2013

I look to my children for hope. I look to them for advice.

They have yet to be indoctrinated into the absurd notions and bizarre clichés that we use to pat ourselves and one another on the backs — affirming our racism, our sexism, our classism, in a sort of casual acceptance of the commonplace ways that we put one another in our places.

Our children don’t know they come from a certain side of town until we tell them that theirs is the right, the white, or the blight side of town. Our children don’t know they should not trust white people. They don’t know they should look down on black people.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

They don’t think they are a better class of person than a homeless man or a struggling drug addict. That is, not until we tell them with our attitudes that we cannot hide no matter how hard we try.

As long as there have been people, there have been bigoted, self-righteous people. But that doesn’t excuse me from taking personal responsibility for reforming my self-superiority.

This Independence Day weekend, that’s what I’m most concerned with. How am I being set free from wrong thinking about the mosaic of America? How am I helping others be set free from the slavery of viewing people according to their social standing, their race and their “place,” instead of just viewing them as people?

I like the way Martin Luther King Jr. put it. “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” If freedom is going to ring from every mountaintop, every valley, and every corner of America we had better get on board with the fact that we are all in the same leaky boat.

I learn from my kids. Last week after the church service ended, a woman from the church snapped a photo of my 5-year-old son, her 6-year-old son, and her 3-year-old daughter kneeling in prayer beneath the large cross at the center of our prayer garden; the preacher’s kid and his two buddies praying.

That’s it. My son doesn’t know or care that his pals are of mixed racial descent.

He just knows they are his friends. He doesn’t know or care that in some Christian traditions his sister and that little girl are barely given voices.

She’s a girl? That doesn’t change who God is. Let’s kneel together. Let’s pray together. We need each other equally, and we need God’s help all the same.

I don’t know about you, but I want freedom to ring in my life like that. I want to unlearn what society and my experience have taught me about who is better, who is lesser, who is important, and what matters. I want freedom to ring in this land I love and I know that for that to happen it must first ring inside the cracked bell of my heart.

“I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.” (Acts 10:34 NLT)

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