by Christopher Harbin

The Whole Crowd
Christopher B. Harbin
Jer 23:1-6; Ps 89:20-37; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56; Eph 2:11-22

In Pennsylvania this week, racial tension and racism raised their heads. As news outlets pointed out, the "City of Brotherly Love" was found to be wanting with racial concerns over the presence of minority children at a swim club. Though exactly what happened may be fuzzy, statements were made indicating fear, anxiety, and distress over the presence of non-White children in the club pool. Children from area daycares coming to swim under a paid contract were hurt, angered, and sorely disappointed. Regardless of the re-issue of an invitation for the children to return, damage was done. The children were classed as inferior, dangerous, or otherwise unsuitable--a lesser class of human being. Such attitude of exclusion stems from fear and anxiety, not knowledge or love. It fails to grasp the inclusive love of Christ Jesus for all people, regardless of our differences.
Racism and ethnocentrism are not new issues. We know them from our national history. They were part of interactions among nations the world over in this century, last century, and millennia before. Darfur, Rwandan genocide, Hitler's extermination of Jews, Pol Pot's killing fields, Armenian genocide, and Charles Taylor's war crimes do not stand out enough in the annals of human history. Native American populations from the US and Mexico to Brazil suffered extermination attempts by invading forces. African, European, Asian, and Australian histories tell the same tales. We fear those who are different. We clash with those we consider not our own, different, or inferior. We want to keep them at bay, at a distance, removed from our presence.
In times of social or economic stress, such tensions are higher. Economics paved the way for Hitler's rise to power. The Jews were cast as enemies responsible for the disastrous economic situation in pre-war Germany. The Native Americans were perceived as ...

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