"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past." – Isaiah 43:18
There are big, dark, ugly events in our lives we all regret but unless someone invents a time machine to go back and erase the past, the best we can do is beg God's forgiveness -- then forgive ourselves, forgive others, and move on.
Of course, forgiveness is easier said than done and some events require much more time and effort to fix, but they can be fixed. America's racial tensions, which peaked in the 1960's, are arguably one of the biggest cultural problems we face, but not beyond repair.
Growing up in the multicultural south long after the Civil Rights Movement, the only "racial clash" I experienced was in junior high when a large African American girl picked me up and dropped me in a smelly trash barrel. My pants were too tight to climb out so I did what any embarrassed kid too proud to call for help would do. I knocked the barrel on its side and crawled out. Looking back, I don't believe I was thrown in a trash barrel because I was white, but rather because I was a target of opportunity. I was in the wrong place at the right time. Other than that, everyone mostly got along.
Given my personal experience, it is always a real stretch for me to believe the bitter, race-baiting politicians who say America has a racism problem. Granted, there are pockets of narrow-minded, die-hard bigots peppered throughout the populace, but they are not just white southerners. They are found in every religion and race all over the country.
With that said, Ferguson Missouri is out of control. Sadly, the Obama administration's initial rush to judgment and insertion into a local issue exacerbated an already well established mess. Stirring up coals of hatred rather than extinguishing them with conciliatory words surely inspired some to burn the city down and ambush cops. Something's got to give.
Looking beyond Ferguson, America really is a diverse and vibrant country, though some refuse to see it. Fifty years post Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, two American presidents, one black and one white, marched to commemorate the occasion. However, if the New York Times (NYT) or mainstream media weekend shows are your choice for news, you may have missed the white president, George W. Bush, in the photo. The NYT responded to the outcry regarding their front page picture of President Obama, sans Bush, claiming it was not cropped, but rather, "overexposed." Most Americans would have appreciated witnessing, in black-and-white (pun intended), that touching moment in history, despite the alleged imperfection of a too light president. A wordsmith by vocation, I could have lots of fun with the NYT's explanation, but I will abstain. It is hard for me to believe that a media giant like the NYT could not come up with a more honest picture like the one I found online and posted on my work Facebook page.
There is so much about what the unedited photo represents that should give us all reason to pause…and celebrate how far we've come. That photo illustrates to the world how Americans constantly examine themselves to correct our missteps. We work to continually move in a forward direction like the Selma marchers did in 1965.
The fact is, we can find about anything we want to find, including racism, in America in 2015 -- if we choose to refuse forgiveness and live in the past, circa 1960s, but why would we want to? This generation has its hands full with all that's going on in the world without focusing on another generation's mostly resolved problems. Nonetheless, those who make that choice will waste large portions of their life shackled to the past.