Some people hate racism; this makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that not everyone hates racism. What makes even less sense is when people attack racists because they’re now doing exactly what they hate about what racists are doing. Attacking only leads to more attacking. Unfortunately, revenge feels like justice… at least to you. It feels like unfairness to the other side, which is why the other side attacks back. A lot of dumb things have been done because of racism. Hopefully this post isn’t considered one of those dumb things, but will give some understanding that leads to healing. This week I realized two important things about racism. First, it exists because if you don’t have healthy self worth and accept both your positives and negatives (what healthy love for yourself means), you’re going to need someone else you can hate in order to give yourself a break from being so mean to yourself. It’s quite amazing how the more you hate yourself, the more you end up hating other people while the more you properly love yourself, the more you properly love others. This is what happens in marriages where someone doesn’t love themselves. No one says “I’m being mean to you because it gives me a break from being mean to myself,” but that’s what happens. This ultimately means that everyone who is racist (or mean to their loved ones) is broken in some way. On some level we need to feel sympathy for very racist people because they are very broken.
The second thing I realized is that racism isn’t a concrete thing. It’s more based on circumstances. For instance, I have some friends who were born in Portugal. A couple of them are from the mainland while others are from the island. If you know anything about this culture, in Portugal that means the mainlanders will look down on the islanders for being the outcasts; it’s like they’re not good enough to be on the mainland while the islanders are like “Do you realize how beautiful it is here? We’re clearly superior.” Of course, in Canada if a mainland and islander meet they’re like “You’re Portuguese? I’m Portuguese! We’re now best friends!” The prejudice they have is based on circumstances, which is what happens everywhere because people want to feel a sense of acceptance and belonging. Where I’m from, Hamilton, we hate people from Toronto who are like “You’re from Hamilton? I thought I smelt blue collar.” While we’re like “You’re from Toronto? I thought I smelt… stuff.” But then if you throw in a couple of people from Brantford, the people from Hamilton and Toronto are like “At least we’re not from Brantford; we’re now best friends.” But then if you throw in some Americans, the people from these three cities are like “Go Canada. We’re so amazing the U.S. are our bodyguards.” or something like that. But then if you throw in some Europeans we’re like “Yeah, North America where football is football and not soccer… even though football makes more sense as the name for soccer since it’s based on using your feet while our football should be called something more relevant like ‘slapping butts of guys in tight pants’. But then if you throw in some Arabs (pause to let you feel some awkwardness: “Is Chad about to say something racist?”) the North Americans and Europeans are all like “Can we buy your oil?” Racism and prejudice is all circumstantial. The same happens with church people: “I’m Baptist; you’re Presbyterian? Gross.” But then throw in some Catholics and the Baptists are like “We love the Presbyterians because we’re both Protestant.” But then if you throw in some Muslims, the Protestants and Catholics are like “Well at least we’re all Christian; we’re best friends now.” But then if you throw in Hindus, the Christians and Muslims are like “Well at least you believe in one God. Hey Hindus, try committing to one like we did.” Yeah, we’re best friends. The same thing can happen with age and gender; it can unify depending on who else is there. At the heart of it all, people want to feel like we belong somewhere. We want to feel connected. Unfortunately, in this desire we sometimes end up wanting to look down on someone else in order to feel better about ourselves. This is where things go wrong, especially when you throw in hurt and fear because voila (the one word I remember from French class) anger, resentment, and a desire for revenge develops. It’s okay to see groups as “the other” as competition can be very healthy to motivate growth and unify the different sides (the Olympics are good example of this), but having people be ‘the other’ doesn’t mean we have a right to feel superior and throw rocks real or metaphoric. We’re all human and share the same humanness. Racism is the corruption of us wanting to belong.
In the end, the two ways to overcome racism and any other type of hate is to help people love and accept themselves and/or give people a project important enough to force everyone to work together. It’s like how the crew of Guardians of the Galaxy came together. With any luck one day we will all get past our differences and have a talking raccoon who can fix our car as our friend.
Hopefully this week you can start to see that we all have differences and similarities and this is what makes the world more interesting. Our differences shouldn’t be a reason to hate and/or hurt anyone.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people