Blue eyes, brown, green or grey. Blonde hair, auburn, brown or black. Light or dark skinned. Can it be more colourful than this? We live in a world that embraces the beauty of all these colours, mixed and intertwined in a way that create unique hues. There is no pink without red and white and similarly no green without yellow and blue. In a way colours are interdependant and each colour is necessary. The same applies to us humans and there is no justification for any discrimination based on race.
Racismisoften found in our hearts, placed there unwillingly or unknowingly by our upbringing and culture. It can lead to thoughts and actions that we do not even see as racist, but nonetheless flow from the same prejudicial root. This attitude of superiority can be seen when certain groups of people are vilified, called criminals, or are perceived as being unable to contribute to society. Racism can also be institutional, when practices or traditions that treat certain groups of people unjustly are upheld. The cumulative effects of personal sins of racism have led to social structures of injustice and violence that makes us all accomplices in racism.
Around the world, we are seeing an alarming rise of xenophobia, racism and intolerance,including rising anti-Semitism, hatred and persecution of people of different beliefs. Racism is still profoundly affecting our culture.Hate is becoming mainstream in liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes alike, casting a shadow over our common humanity. Social media are being exploited as platforms for bigotry. Public discourse is weaponized for political gain with incendiary rhetoric that stigmatizes and dehumanizes minorities, migrants, refugees, women and any so-called “others”.All this undermines social cohesion, erodes shared values, whilelayingthe foundation for violence, undermining peace, stability, and human dignity.
We are in needof a genuine conversion of the heart in order to compel change and reform society. Only this will allow us to appreciate all the hues and colours that illuminate civilizations. This conversion process requires a long road to travel for it to be accomplished, while it is necessary from both an individual and national level. To be able to reach a full realization of the promise of liberty, equality, and justice for all, we can ruminate on the following considerations.
For this change to be happen within a society, it is essential that the institutional framework reflects this ideology. Governments are to ensure that no public authorities and institutions engage in discrimination; pledge not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations; while ensure that the implemented policies, laws and regulations are fair and pursue the elimination of racial discrimination in all of its forms.
The education systems are also a powerful platform that can instigate social awareness, hence these hold a key element in this transformation process. Together with ourChurches and the other civic and social institutions, there needs to be a joint effort to pursue this much needed conversion, mainly by setting the example, the right thinking patterns and establish the change factors to instigate a more social conscious and sensible future generation. If racism is confronted by addressing its causes and the injustice it produces, then healing can occur.
As Christians, in Christ we can find the strength and grace to make and fulfill this journey. We are called to listen with an open heart,the tragic stories of the many who suffer from racism, given that empathy is the main promoter ofjustice. This in fact is the original meaning of justice: a gift of grace given to all of humanity, such that to be in the right relationship with God, with one another, and with the rest of God’s creation.
We need to work together to ensure that the beauty of the whole spectrum of colours portraying our lives, societies and nations are free to shine. This can be possible only if we do justice by recognizing and respecting the fact that the legitimate rights of individuals precede any society, as these flow from the dignity granted to each person. This fundamental truth has been declared as from the earliest passages of the book of the Genesis: “Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them.”