Exorcising America's Demons
"Those who set in motion the forces of evil cannot always control them afterwards."
- The Marrow Of Tradition by Charles W. Chesnutt
I was sitting in a cafe on Detroit's east side today enjoying a date with my wonderful wife. All around me was a happy mix of people of different ethnicities and economic status enjoying locally renowned pizza. Each table was shoulder width apart not leaving room to be shy as the conversations of strangers overlapped. It was pure pizza bliss. Then, I decided to open my social media for the first time in a couple of days and my heart shattered. I opened to a video of white nationalist supremacists physically beating a person of color during a rally in Charlottesville, VA. Looking up in horror I examined the room. To see such a contradiction in what I was experiencing with what was happening a few states away is unsettling to say the least.
As it sits, 3 people have died and 19 are injured. Reports of people throwing lighter fluid and brandishing torches have come out. A person drove a car into a crowd. All this over a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee set to be torn down.
I'm going to be very direct here:
White supremacy is demonic.
To say any form of rallying racism is only a sin is to downplay it's root.
Sin is a distortion of the Image of God in humanity. It's a sickness needing to be healed with a treatment for the soul. As a result of the incarnation of Christ, humanity has found a cure for the disease of sin and the imminence of death. Jesus brings redemption to the human heart and clarity to the mind. In Christ there is a renewing of the flesh, a regeneration of the spirit and life found in the regular participation of the Eucharist. How can something be "beyond" sinful? A person caught in sin can be reasoned with and brought to repentance and restored into the community. Something "demonic" needs to be exorcised.
I'm not concerned with sounding hyper-spiritual at the moment because these happenings in America are dire. Racism is a sin that can be restored and redeemed by reason. I've personally watched healthy dialogue transformation hostility into unity. It can be done. Both parties were willing participate in the liberating work of Christ though humility and brotherhood. Racism is like a weed. When the roots of it's sin are shallow they can be easily plucked. Something "demonic" is more than a weed in the garden. It's a fox waiting to ruin the vineyard. Something demonic is calculated and hidden out of sight waiting to make it's strike. It's present but only just beyond the horizon laying in the darkness. As the foxes steal the life giving produce of the garden there is less will to pluck the weeds. Slowly the weeds start to grow unchecked and they become the deep rooted unconscious aid to the fox. While the fox steals life, the weeds choke it out and life becomes an after thought. When there is no life in the field the fox takes up residence without fight from the gardener. It's home is established and now it can live in the open.
Many white Americans have apologized for our racism but, we never repented. We had a change in mind but not of practice. We never pulled the roots. We never trapped the fox. Our brothers and sisters of color never stopped watching when we did. They tried to remind us that Black Lives Matter and that the system is violent. They tried to warn us but we wouldn't listen. I read many ask "where were the police to stop the beatings". My response to you is they're in Ferguson, MO. They're still making sure that the likes of Michael Brown never get off the concrete they let him bleed out on. They are letting the system work. How naive are we to think after countless and senseless killings by white cops on the black community that they would help? In our country we are seeing a second rise of "Alt-Right", KKK, white terrorist organizations. They are armed with guns at the base and armed with money at the top. Charlottesville is a boiling over of the resident evil lurking in America.
These groups are anti-Christ and need to be exorcised from the American establishment.
How do we do that?
I'm not going to say this is simple or I have the answers. This is a very complex issue that is rooted deep in the soil and watered by the blood of the mostly innocent. Whites must be humble and make way for the people of color already steeped in the resistance to lead the way. We need to be a support and not a lead. Our eyes are only just clearing up from a long sleep. Let those who never fell asleep lead us through the present darkness. As unpopular as it sounds we must also peacefully resist. Violence is never the answer. Violence begets violence and leads the way to evil. Violence is the abuse of the Image of God in all of humanity which is what is aiming to be redeemed and restored here. Peacefully resisting in the words of Cornel West "does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding". Our end game should not be to harm but to wake up those being violent to their violence. Let our joining in the marching bring down the walls not our weapons. Pray for those that persecute and hope for their deliverance. One final suggestion is to use the privilege that many of us whites have to bring the resistance to the places others can't. Don't sit silent when we are in white spaces and people attempt to normalize white supremacist behavior. No matter how subtle it is we must be committed to not allowing the roots to set in. This weeding goes for those actively resisting and those who have yet to wake. America might be built on violence but the Kingdom of God is ushered in with peace and love. We have compromised on the road to Charlottesville. We had a chance to change but we only patched the holes.
Today I think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and will leave you with this:
"On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."