I have always considered myself against racism. Then God showed me how racist I’m prone to be. I was shocked, then relieved. Can you identify?
A snapshot of the problem
My problem is I am so for our indigenous aboriginal people that my heart wishes to treat them as more special than they would want to be treated. I feel our Nation is in a kind of eternal debt scenario to our aboriginal people for the atrocities they’ve suffered historically at the hand of government policy. I felt the weight of The Apology. I felt it was a landmark beginning.
My problem is the kind of problem with the opposite effect than normal racism outcomes — I patronise the aborigine I encounter by trying to be too nice and too accommodating. If they’re discerning they’ll feel it. My attempting to try too hard can potentially hinder the trust I so seek to build.
The truth is our aboriginal people don’t want special treatment; they just want to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, as human beings with the same needs and rights as the next person. Whenever we treat someone special because of their race or for any other reason, we miss the individual. We objectify them. In trying to elevate them, we insult them. It is racism cloaked in flattery.
Where Christian repentance fits in
Just about every view we have in life is attached to some value or other. Where we discern values are awry, we’re tempted to correct them. The truth is we’re under-correcting and over-correcting all the time. And that is a form of repentance — to turn back to the correct way where we’ve strayed.
This is what repentance looks like in the situation at hand: I am compelled to even out the transgressions of my heart in being more partial than God wills me to be. I am compelled to treat the aboriginal person as they wish to be treated, without grovelling, which I can be fooled to think is favour. I am compelled to understand that it’s also people of other racial backgrounds different to mine (Asian, African, European, etc) that I attempt to ingratiate. I am challenged to become present in every interaction I have with persons I feel tempted to favour. I am challenged to treat everyone the same; to love all with all the love I have.
Jesus is important because He stood up for equality — not that everyone get the same thing, but for everyone to be valued equally — loved not better nor worse than anyone else.
I think that we will still be tempted to overreact for the aboriginal people, for women, for children’s rights, for refugees — advocacy for all of which is necessary. This highlights even more why repentance should be pondered constantly.