Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God; let your good Spirit lead me on level ground. -Psalm 143:10
We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Events of the past year have made me reflect often on the segregated world into which I was born. That place was a small delta community in northeast Louisiana which could be described as third world, where a handful of white citizens owned all of the land, controlled all commerce and political power. Then, there was everyone else. Relationships between blacks and whites were often paternalistic, if not purely transactional. True friendships between members of the the two races were rare, if heard of at all. It was this cultural dichotomy that allowed me to reach adulthood without making friends with anyone of another race. It allowed, if not required, me to live in very close proximity to many folks whom I never got to know in any meaningful way. This atmosphere bred ignorance and mistrust and led me to default to the negative and to question the motives of others with whom I might have good faith disagreements, or at least differing perspectives.
Returning home to live and work as a 26-year-old man, I met for the first time some African American men who were my exact age. We had grown up in the same small town but attended different schools and churches, separated along unspoken but clear racial lines. Our proverbial paths had never crossed, even in a place with fewer than five thousand residents. As college educated adults we became close friends. Like friends do, we disagreed on some issues, but also like friends we could talk about our respective positions without judgment or mistrust. And over a relatively short period of time we learned that when people of different races, cultures, and backgrounds get to know each other they no longer default to the negative or ascribe nefarious, ulterior motives to the other person. In short, we learned to walk the earth like brothers.
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.