A few weeks back I sat in on a discussion/exploration of Genesis 2. It was led by a professor of Religious Studies at the church I currently attend. As the discussion unfolded, I became more and more aware of how context can influence the Bible. Understanding who the text was originally written to (and by), what was normative understanding for their culture at the time and how certain words could have different meanings are important to interpreting the text itself. It wasn't a new thought, more a reaffirmation of conclusions I have come to on this journey of faith. I left the discussion that night excited and inspired. As an aside, a Bible Study group I had been a part of a few years back, took on Genesis 2 and pulled it apart FOR WEEKS. We came away with many of the same conclusions the professor of Religious Studies had made that evening...yes!
The day or so after the shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, there was a national news agency that attempted to change the intentions of the shooter. The original context of the incident seemed clear to me; the white culture in the United States continues to struggle with racism, with seeing others with different colored skin as lesser than or as a threat and this young man, in particular, choose to act on his fears and racism. 9 people died because of that continued struggle with racism. Yet, because it happened in a church, this news agency kept trying to change the context...it wasn't about race, it was about belief in Jesus. I'm not buying it.
The headlines I saw last Monday morning on my Yahoo page attempted to take the context of words spoken by the President of the United States and manipulate them to have people jump to a conclusion without reading the actual statement made by POTUS. (Yes, I have watched every episode of West Wing...multiple times. Thanks, Netflix!) The actual statement is bold and truthful...we have a long way to go in this country in regards to racism.
As a white, middle class woman I take a lot for granted. I haven't experienced much in the way of discrimination. I can't put myself in that context...but I can watch, listen, learn and change my own way of thinking. I can speak up in my social and family circles when something is said that sets off my racism radar. I can choose my own words carefully and wisely.
It's past time to starting looking at the context of racism in the culture of the United States. It's time for us to re-examine our ideas about those who "look" different and stop feeding the fear that keeps racism alive. As a wise person once said, "When you do what you always do, you get what you always get." It's time to do something different.
I'm not going to try to change the context of the events of the last two weeks...but I am going to start to change me.
*This post was powered by my respect for Opinionated Friend and the freedom she has to express her opinions. Many times I get stuck in fear of saying something that will offend others. A recent discussion with OF reminded me that it's okay to say what I'm feeling and thinking...a well timed lesson indeed. Thanks, OF!