This was an “I hate everything and pants” sort of week, so I’m glad I got the chance to chat with my online blogging buddies. There is something to be said for a group of diverse people who can come together once a week and lay aside a myriad of differences to encourage each other. We join figurative hands, knowing that we are drawn together by the blood and the love of Christ.
I dream of the day when all of God’s people come together. I dream of that time when issues no longer divide us. I dream of the brightness of eternity, when we finally realize that so much of what we fought over was petty and pointless. I dream of the day when all of our voices are raised as one in praise to the King of Kings. I dream of the day when we reach across the aisles and seek to hear each other’s stories, knowing that each one matters.
I’m thinking about this especially in light of the Charleston shootings and the subsequent calls across the nation for the removal of the Southern Cross flag from all public displays. My view is that all symbols of the Confederacy should have been outlawed during Reconstruction. They represent a dark time in our national history. A time that should be regarded with soberness and reflection.
No, not every person who likes the Southern Cross or the Stars & Bars is racist. That’s too broad a stroke to make. But we need to understand the things we embrace, celebrate or enjoy. We need to understand that these symbols arose out of very real racial oppression. Out of slavery.
This weighs on me a great deal, for the controversy does not divide the nation, but rather exposes the divide already there. The divide that has existed since the first Dutch ship brought the first Africans to this continent. This isn’t about the flags or the statues of Confederate leaders. The flags and the statues aren’t the problem, but the symptom of deeply-held, sinful beliefs and attitudes.
Beliefs and attitudes we may not even know we have.
If Germany can ban the public display of Nazi symbols, surely we can finally do what’s right and ban the public display of Confederate symbols. I cannot help but think that supporting such a band would be a meaningful gesture upon the part of white Christians to our black brothers and sisters. No, it won’t solve the problem. But it would show that we fully and completely understand and acknowledge history. It would communicate that we grasp the power of symbol.
I also think of this in light of my passion to do whatever I can to stand against modern-day slavery. If there were some banner that traffickers rallied to, I would want it shoved in a deep, dark hole and set on fire. Even if it was an innocent piece of cloth to others.
No, nobody alive today experienced or participated in the horrors of Southern slavery, but we are impacted by it every day. Mistrust, suspicion and prejudice run deep on all sides, underneath all skin colors. The Church – made up of people of every shade and hue – must do what we can to show our love for each other. To show that we are eager to remove stumbling blocks out of each other’s way.
Removing Confederate symbols won’t stop racism, but it is one simple, practical and long-overdue step that we can take together.
A step we can take toward the dream of unity.