The only thing needed for racism to continue is for good people to do nothing. Debby Irving in Waking Up White
I suspect that most of us consider ourselves to be Good People. We make donations to charities and buy Girl Scout cookies. We help neighbors here and there. We certainly commit no heinous crimes or secretly belong to criminal organizations. (Unless we do.)
Are there Good People who sell drugs or hit their children? Sure? To this day Hermann Göring’s daughter continues to proclaim that her father was a good man. He was sentenced to death for being one of those responsible for the deaths of over 5,700,000 Jews. Was he a good father while subsequently being a Nazi? Maybe?
In terms of regular people like you and me, being “good” is still relative. We can be sinners and we can be saints, and we can be better. This is where being in a spiritual community is helpful.
In a healthy church, we are held accountable when we lie, cheat, hold grudges, and say racist/sexist/homophobic/not-to-be-confused-with-Jesus things. In a healthy church, we are inspired by the message of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the awesomeness of the Creator to do better. In a healthy church, we are also aspirational, but not necessarily in the I-want-to-go-to-medical-school kind of way. We aspire to be the people we were created to be AND to see others through the eyes of Christ as the people they were created to be.
This can be so annoying because it’s much easier to cling to our biases and our resentments. It’s even easier to stay stuck in ditches of shame. But we were born to be better. We have good moments. We might even have perfect moments. But we can do better.
And we must. When I criticize my country, my church, my denomination, my city it’s not that I don’t love my country, church, denomination and city. It’s just that we can do better.
Monday’s as good a day as any to get started. Was there anything you learned over the weekend that inspires you to ponder these things?
- Who am I moved to serve beyond myself and my family?
- What’s the most important thing I will do today?
- What deep pain do I need to get past before I can love people?
- What have I learned from the people who’ve hurt me?
- What anonymous thing could I do today that would make someone else’s life easier?
Sometimes – although I hide it well – I’m not a very good person. I can do much better. But that’s why resurrection is such a wonderful and divine idea.