People are petrified to bring up a racial issue, especially in an age of "racial microaggressions," "white privilege," and the massive protesting and rioting over the death of George Floyd.
Even cleaning up graffiti is now considered a racist act.
The fear is understandable when considering how systemic racism has been since the founding of the United States. Andrew Walker expressed the discomfort quite pointedly: "Racial reconciliation is a sensitive subject with which well-meaning people feel intimidated to engage. It seems, at times, there are too many landmines and too many unforgivable sins in the discourse. But in order for us to grow together, we must not let the headwinds of complexity discourage a steady course toward reconciliation."
An exemplary individual who portrayed grace and forgiveness is none other than Nelson Mandela. In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela describes how he felt after getting out of prison. "I was asked as well about the fears of whites. I knew that people expected me to harbor anger toward whites. But I had none. In prison, my anger toward whites decreased, but my hatred for the system grew. I wanted South Africa to see that I loved even my enemies while I hated the system that turned us against one another."
So, I'd like to share a few virtues that the great Mandela lived by and helped bring an end to the Apartheid in South Africa, and hopefully, as we apply them in our own lives that, in solidarity, we can end racism in America.
The first virtue is the Golden Rule: "Do to others what you would have them do to you."
Bottom line, we must treat all people with dignity and respect.
That's what Mandela did as the leader of a divided country. He called whites and blacks to honor one another with dignity and to respect one another's differences. It didn't matter the person's color; if they were being mistreated, Mandela would step in to defend them.
We need to do the same.
If you're white and see a black or brown person racially profiled, discriminated, or mistreated — don't remain silent, say something. Please stand up for them. It would be a great help if more people in the white community broke their silence and fought for more racial justice. And I say that as a Hispanic-American. I, myself, can do more to abide by the Golden Rule.
At the same time, if you're black or brown and you assume all silent white people have a blind allegiance or are unwitting agents of white supremacy, that is a gross generalization and undermines the Golden Rule's very virtue.
Together, let us recognize and admit the pain racism can cause and, as fellow human beings, empathize with those being discriminated against and require our help.
The second virtue is to respect yourself. You never heard Nelson Mandela apologizing for the color of his skin or where he was born. Whether you're a white, black, or brown person, don't feel sorry for your biological make-up. You are who you are because God made you that way. No one should have to apologize to another ethnic group or gender for being born a different color or gender.
The third virtue is to uphold justice and peace.
Mandela didn't rule as South Africa's first black head of state with hatred, violence, and looting. Instead, Mandela upheld justice and peace for South Africans by working with the very people who devalued him as a human being. He knew that for his country to experience peace, he must rely on justice to prevail.
James tells us, "Peacemakers who sow in peace will reap a harvest of righteousness" (3:18).
As a free society, we cannot afford law and order be turned into lawlessness and disorder in the name of fairness. Feeding hatred, justifying violent protests, and looting will not bring about racial justice and unity we are praying for in our country.
What happened to Floyd is morally reprehensible and wrong on so many levels. And thankfully, we received the good news that the officers have been arrested and charged and will have their day in court.
My friend, I encourage you to abide by the Golden Rule, to respect yourself, and to uphold justice and peace. As you do, look to Jesus Christ because he is the only person who can truly end the human evil of racism and bring peace, not only in our streets but in our hearts as well.
Jason Jimenez is president of Stand Strong Ministries and is a best-selling author of several books, and a national speaker who specializes in apologetics and biblical worldview training. Jason has been featured on the Focus on the Family radio program with Jim Daly, Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, CBS radio, TBN's Praise the Lord, Sky News, and many more. Check out www.standstrongministries.org.