How Can We Be the Bridge to This Great Divide?


My heart continues to hurt because of the weeks we recently suffered; for the loss of life—all lives. I have never understood the lens that views humanity and focuses on our differences. Why do some individuals want to divide us, to pit us against one another? I don’t understand any of it today. I know we are unique; our life experience defines much of who we are and how we think… Yet I believe that creates an opportunity for us to offer a wonderful, rich perspective to one another. Yes, we do live in neighborhoods that are different from one another, with cultures uniquely our own, but in the uniqueness of our worlds there is a true treasure to be shared.

What I do not believe is that any entire entity, organization, race, or career choice is fully alike. None of it determines whether an individual within that group is good or evil. I was recently discussing the tensions that have developed with a dear friend, a retired detective from New Jersey. I was trying to gain perspective, and I asked about his former co-workers and if, within the police force, there were some who held prejudice. His response was that he has a 10% rule.

Within every group of people, he explained, the vast majority just wants to live their lives, pay the rent and raise their families. But, on the other hand, within every group of people there is also a small percentage that disrupt, who cause trouble, who have wrong motives, who cling to evil intentions. In that explanation, he said yes, there were some officers, but it was a small percent… As is true with the young black men, as is true with the Latinos, whose gangs he investigated, as is true of all of us.

…in the uniqueness of our worlds there is a true treasure to be shared.

This, I understood. There are always a few who create havoc, who choose to disrupt and destroy. But we should be viewed as individuals, not as a collective. I had a father who raised me to do exactly that. I was tasked to look at all equally, to view the president of a company and the janitor through the same lens, with the same level of respect for each. Listening to their words and watching their conduct to determine the character of each one.

I was also taught that we are all made in the image of God, yet He has used different hues on the paintbrush of creation. These were not to be thought less of; they were to be delighted in. The beauty of creation found within humanity. I was taught within all men (and women) is the same beating heart that directs the lifeblood of our existence. We may be unique in our appearance, our eye color, hair color, skin tone, and we each possess a fingerprint that is ours alone. But we are also individuals sharing many of the same desires in life, with purpose and hope. So, friends, let us choose to give the benefit of the doubt, remembering that the majority of those around us are on their own, individual pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

It is with that view I choose to live. I am not diminishing the challenges ahead or the pain within our hearts. Neither am I discounting the need for greater understanding between us. I am looking instead at how I can help bridge the divide. How can I see through the lens of others? Can I love well, serve well—all of God’s amazing humanity equally? I plan to try.

You’ll also like Taking Heart, Even When Tragedy Hits, How to Teach Your Child Not to Hold Prejudices,  What My Faith Says about Race and From the Peacemakers in our Current Climate.

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