By Dr. Hal Brady
Who is the enemy anyway? Whites, blacks, Latinos, straights, gays, Muslims, Christians, immigrants, others … who? If what Congressman John Lewis said the other day is true, none of the above. Congressman Lewis stated, “We all belong to the same house.”
Now, that statement has strong ramifications, and I may add, positive ramifications. The image here is that all Americans are part of the same family, with the same heritage, freedoms, and rights. Granted, all the family in America has not always been treated as family. For that, all of us share guilt and should ask God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of one another.
It is generally understood that family is a place where they have to take you in and where everybody is included. That means that brothers and sisters may have their disagreements, but they are not violent toward one another. That means also that authentic brothers and sisters will continually look for constructive ways to work out their issues together-listening, seeking to understand, sharing, discussing, debating, crying, praying, sometimes laughing and taking action in the best interest of the entire family. In a healthy family, everybody’s voice is heard and respected.
Desiring to understand and improve race relations in the family, I had an honest discussion the other afternoon with a younger African-American brother that I had just met. I shared my concern about relations between the races and about the recent killings – the two young African-Americans and the five Dallas police officers. Asking him what he thought about the situation between the races in our country and the greatest current need, he immediately replied, “dialogue.”
I probed further and asked, “What he thought was the basic issue?” “Perceived inequality,” he answered. He continued, “While we have seen some improvement over the last hundred years, the problem goes back 300 years.”
As I continued to listen to this brother, he asked me, “Have you ever been driving in your community and for no apparent reason a police car starts following you? And when the officer stops you and you asked, ‘What’s the problem?’ His rather haughty response is, ‘You are the problem,’ It's the attitude!”
I then shared with him that though that had not been my experience, I had experienced a measure of prejudice.
Right after my wife and I moved here a few years ago, I had to go down to the southern part of our city to get my driver’s license renewed. The problem was I didn’t know where the licensing place was located. After driving around a while looking for it, I spied a young African-American male walking up the street, so I stopped and asked him for directions. He curtly replied, “I don't help white people.” Shortly thereafter, I asked another member of the same race, and he could not have been more gracious and helpful.
My newfound brother and I both agreed that there are both whites and blacks who are insensitive to the matter of improving family life in our city and nation.
Before I conclude this article today, I want to mention a good word from the Chief of the Atlanta Police Department. He stated these words on a recent television newscast. The Chief said, “Our officers stand behind the badge to uphold the law and protect the people, but behind the badge, we are human beings.” That is so true and our law enforcement officers deserve our deepest appreciation, support and respect. There is much evidence they are working to improve their service to all the family. It was truly heartening to see the community of Dallas, Texas, giving their support to the Dallas Police Department following that recent terrible tragedy.
The reason I have shared all this with you is because my African-American brother and I participated in an honest dialogue about several issues that need to be aired out in American family life.
For the good of all, there has been too much violence, too much discord between the police and African Americans, too much focus on voices of dissension, and too much media overkill. In reality, the called for change, which is necessary, will be orchestrated not on the streets of confrontation but in the conference rooms of compassion and cooperation. The critical issue before us is “Dialogue,” and the clock is ticking.
Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries.