Paying for the Privilege

I read a most astonishing article the other day. Wealthy white American women are paying up to $2,500 for a meal and a gut-wrenching session about how racist and bigoted they are. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/03/race-to-dinner-party-racism-women?fbclid=IwAR12AvWdTyht5RV0vfBfZ5XUEnA4441GU8efLSX8xtdfePI2R9KEesCipI8 Over a fancy dinner, they discuss how their privilege has caused them to ignore and deny the needs and rights of others, based largely on prejudices and fear.

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I won’t waste space to analyze all that I think is wrong with this scenario– but I will say the following:

  • $2,500 is a lot of money for most Americans, let alone many others around the world.
  • Talk is (according to the old phrase) cheap.
  • If having difficult talks over a plate of overpriced pasta and wine could solve major problems, I’m shocked that no one else has tried it.

I’m dismayed by this article. I hope that some good comes from these efforts, but I don’t expect such tactics to end racism, bigotry, or ignorance. These women are paying for a privilege on top of all their other privileges– the right to feel righteous and “woke” to lingering problems that have never personally touched them. It would not occur to them to invite 10 women who don’t look like them, don’t live like them, don’t speak like them, and don’t dress like them to come to dinner. They would not share their hospitality, their fine china, or their fancy dessert with a working-class woman with olive skin and an accent, or a single mother fighting to make ends meet and losing the battle– of any skin color. They might give another $2,500 to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen– they would not befriend anyone who needed those services, however.

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Most importantly, they are likely to believe that by “owning” their prejudices, they are absolved of their responsibility to “love their neighbor as themselves.” They can be comfortable in the belief that their feelings “do them credit” and make them better than others who “are in denial” about their “subconscious biases” and “micro-aggressions” toward the people with whom they interact. They may take high-minded actions to force the government to “deal with” people less fortunate than they, but they will take no steps to get involved personally with the families who suffer from injustice and poverty just outside the gates of their exclusive communities.

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But what about me? I may sneer at the hypocrisy and foolishness of others, but what am I doing? Am I any different from the ladies who leave me shaking my head? What do I say and do to combat ignorance, hatred, racism, classism, and injustice?

Lord, my prayer today is that I would pour out compassion– even on these ladies–and on those who need it most. Your heart is that all of us would live in peace and lovingkindness. Help me to see my neighbors as you see them–ALL my neighbors. All the time.

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The real privilege is not of wealth or comfort. The real privilege is to learn to love and be loved as Jesus loves– freely, sacrificially, whole-heartedly and without limit.

Prayers of the “Color-Blind” Christian

My father was color-blind.  Everything in the world appeared to him in various shades of gray, except for one color.  Red.  His whole life was spent seeing the world like a weird noir comic strip or old black and white movie with splashes of red ink or red colorized film.  He learned to adapt– to memorize color patterns for signs and traffic lights; to guess at colors based on past experience (roses that weren’t red or white were likely to be pink or yellow); to trick people into telling him the color of an object–but I always felt sad to know that he was missing out on so much beauty.  He had a marvelous eye for patterns and probably could have been a great artist or art critic…if only.

grayscale photo of high rise buildings
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So it always bothers me when people use the term “color-blind” to refer to themselves in relation to bigotry, racism, and loving (or not loving) fellow human beings.  Being “color-blind” is not a desirable thing;  it is not a Godly thing.  God created colors, and skin tones, and genetic codes that shape similarities and differences across the human race– the single and uniformly fallen and redeemed human race.  He blessed the world with variety and beauty, and He gave us eyes to see it and appreciate it– to be color-blind is to miss out on that, and to belittle and disregard God’s gifts.  There is no segregation in Heaven– no “white” God or “black” God or “red” or “yellow” God– no separation of people groups or subsets of nationalities, languages, denominations, or cultures.  Everyone is precious and unique in God’s eyes– every one loved with an everlasting and boundless love.  God doesn’t want a world of gray, two-dimensional, interchangeable followers.  He wants a vibrant, dynamic, beautiful bride.

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photo of four persons uniting hands
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What we need are fewer Christians who claim (disingenuously) to be color-blind, and more color-rich Christians– Christ followers who encourage and appreciate one another, pushing each other to love and good works.

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If we were all color-blind, there would be one stark image that would never leave our vision– each follower of Christ would stand out in sharp contrast with the rest of the gray world, as they would be washed by the very red blood of the Savior.  All other pretensions of color and division would be lost.

red heart on a old opened book

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see!

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