Prejudice is a Human Disease

Dave 07One of the unforeseen results of the Obama years was an increase in racial tensions in the United States. Rather than being the Great Uniter, President Obama poked at the fires of racial disharmony whenever he got the opportunity, even when the pretext turned out to be false.

As a result, organizations like Black Lives Matter have garnered wide attention for their rallies, and sadly, for their calls to kill police officers. They take offense to the suggestion that “all lives matter.”

Even though the Apostle Paul in his letter to the slave owner, Philemon, had graciously asked Philemon to welcome back his runaway slave, Onesimus, as a brother, slavery remained legal in virtually every society in the world, until the collective consciences of British Christians were stirred and slavery was finally outlawed in the British Empire in 1807. It is now outlawed, in theory, in every country.

But still, for some inexplicable reason, more “whiteness” still seems to be a desired trait in most cultures. I was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in about 1991, and one evening I invited Agrey and Anna Mponguliana to join me at my hotel for dinner. I had met Agrey a couple of trips earlier, and we’d kind of hit it off.

In the course of the evening’s conversation we discovered that, like Meritha and I, they’d been married in 1967. So the conversation turned to courtship and marriage in our culture, and theirs. Anna told me that Agrey had paid 10 cows for her; then added, that if she’d had a lighter skin, he might have had to pay up to 20 cows.

I was a bit dumbfounded, and suggested that the honorific we humans have bestowed upon ourselves; Homo Sapiens, or wise man, is hardly appropriate given that we whites will lay on the beach risking skin cancer in order to become darker, while Africans and Southeast Asians, and Chinese will do everything possible to become lighter, all to no practical purpose.

And it’s not just about cosmetics. Whether it’s people of another colour, creed, culture, tribe, or community; when one group finds itself in a position to dominate another group, its innate tendency is to do so.

chesterton-quotePrejudice is not a white disease, it’s a human disease.  We all need to agree with British author and raconteur, G. K. Chesterton who was once asked by The Times of London to answer the question: “What’s wrong with the world today?”

Chesterton responded: “Dear Sir, I am.  Yours, G. K. Chesterton.”

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