"I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man."
Yesterday we lost an amazing hero. I man who could look at the world, all of it's evils and hardships that were often placed in his lap, his life, his family, his country, and be forgiving and hopeful. He spoke of peace, understanding and acceptance of everyone, even those who were his captors.
Yesterday, before the announcement of Mr. Mandela's death, I listened quietly as someone I have known all of my life spoke of distrusting people with multiple tattoos and knowing that anyone gay would be burning in hell. Yes-people with these beliefs still do exist.
This person is a devout Baptist and receives most of these ideals from the pastor at their church. They do a fantastic amount of good in the community but all with a selective ideology.
How can a so called Christian faith, or any faith, be selective in who can pray, attend, commune, or be "saved" for that matter. Race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, color of your hair, piercings or tattoos does not identify who a person is or their worth in the world.
I read today about a group that calls themselves Bikers Against Child Abuse. These leather clad, tattooed, facial hair and Harley driving group help children of abuse regain their strength. They surround these children, protect them, keep a vigil watch if they are in danger, and go to court with them, encircling the child to the stand and helping them stay strong to testify on the worst parts of their lives. The children are given a new courage because no bad man or women is as scary as their new friends.
This group that so many would look at as bad news or not worth their time volunteer to be the saving grace to children who have suffered beyond what most of us will ever experience.
I also recently read a letter to an advice columnist asking her to please give them help in convincing their son, who recently told them he was gay, that he should choose to be straight. The columnist ever so cleverly told the father he should demonstrate by example. The father should choose to be gay for a time period showing his son that it is in fact a choice. Brilliant.
So what does it take to get us to Mr. Mandela's dream? What does it take to make the world look at one another and get to know a person before any judgement is made?
Every day we still live with hate crimes, racial profiling, and small mindedness.
One of the most disturbing stories recently in my mind was a family in Virginia who let their seven year old dress as a Ku Klux Klan member for Halloween, toting it as a "family tradition." It's these people that still shape young minds that will forever keep us from reaching a place where judgement is made by someone's actions, not appearance.
I think Denis Leary said it best, "Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list."
If our children could grow up only hating naps then hate would become almost non-existent. What grown up doesn't learn the value of a good nap?
Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela.