The near east side of Cleveland in the mid 1940 and 50's was truly a melting pot.
This is where my dad grew up and learned that people come in many shapes, sizes, smells and strangeness; but regardless of the group they come from, individually they are all flesh & blood people. People to be respected and loved for who they are as unique individuals, not as a race, nor as a nationality, but as a person.
My dad was of Polish Catholic descent mixed with a smidgen of Choctaw Indian, living smack dab in an Italian neighborhood while a few blocks away African Americans were moving in. As he grew up he had no other choice but to play with them all, learn from them all and show respect to them all. As individuals.
I can remember him telling me about one of his most vivid memories as a kid: It involved playing "hide-and-go-seek" with his black and Italian friends. This was a high stakes game because the person who got caught first, had to become the catcher. You did not want to be the catcher because while the other kids hid, you had to count with your face buried in the apron of an Italian boy's mom -- he said her well used apron reeked of garlic, onion and oregano...and you had to slowly count to 100! Yuck!
In America of today, cultural groups no longer melt together, but rather as one sociologist said, "We are like a tossed salad, trying to mix and work together in the public arena and marketplace, but in private we cling to our distinctive groups and fight to preserve our specific tribal identity. As a result we only know other communities and people superficially." I would agree. It seems people these days desire to live in separate communities, forming isolated sub-cultures of our own; and in turn judging the other cultures through our own community's values and norms.
Simply put, we don't look at people as individuals anymore, but as distinctive segregated non compatible groups. Politicians have played a big part in fostering this divided es·prit de corps. Deviously they have used our differences as a wedge to divide and conquer instead of working to have us melt together. They do this by promising individual communities more privileges and a bigger part of the economic pie in exchange for votes. This tactic both polarizes and then pits opposing groups against each other in a Marxian arm wrestling match as they jockey for power over the others:
- Women vs. Men
- Blacks vs. Whites
- Un-documented (illegal) aliens vs. Legal naturalized citizens
- Unions vs. Corporations
- Metropolitan Elite vs. the Suburban & Country Folk
- Wolverines vs. Buckeyes (maybe not)
Honyaks don't fit or work well with this kind of generalized categorizing and labeling. They are used to living in a world where individuals are known and respected for their own personal achievements and trustworthy character. They don't first ask what group a person is from, but they ask: "Does that person work hard?", "Do they tell the truth?", "Do they keep their word?", "Do they fear God?".
Some readers may be thinking, "It's not that easy Chris. People no matter what you say will still judge a book by it's cover, and another person's character by their skin color!" No, you are right, it isn't easy; but a Honyak has never expected it to be easy. They understand that most of life and the societal systems you are living in will somehow be against you. So they have been taught, by their Honyak fathers, to personally work through the difficulties and inequities of life. Fight to advance, and never allow yourself to expect to live off of other people's handouts (Especially a 'suppossedly' impartial government. Remember, government is never impartial, they are arbitrators of power). The truth Honyaks all know is that handouts shrink a soul: a hard day's pay without a hard days work makes Jack a spoiled, lazy, rotten boy. They also learn to follow the example of 1 Peter 2:19-24 when it says:
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
If you live like this won't you be taken advantage of? Yes. But notice, "You are entrusting yourself to him who judges justly." In other words, the living God has your back. The problem with our world is we want the government to have our back; but the government is full of broken people.
So stop seeing people as groups. See people as individuals so you can offer them the kindness and love of Christ instead of painting a whole group with a broad black brush. Are some men jerks and misogynistic beasts? Yes, but some men are the greatest people you will ever want to meet. Are some women mean and spiteful? Yes, but some women have given everything they have to raise a family and love their God. Are some white people greedy? Yes, but some will sell everything just to try to help the world. Are some Black people thugs? Yes, but some black people live day after day in tough neighborhoods trying to make their world better for their kids and grandkids.
So stop seeing all politicians as scum. Are some Democrats evil? Yes, but some Democrats are honestly wanting to give people a fair share. Are some Republicans hard hearted money hungry sharks? Sure, but some Republicans want to give all people a fair share. The problem with "a fair share" is how each group defines it, and how we as a people achieve it. This debate is good & healthy for our country. Let the honest civil servants present their arguments without the mud-slinging, name calling and malice. If we do that we will have a better country.
When my dad said "Their ain't a horse that can't be rode and their ain't a man that can't be thrown" he was stating a brilliant truth about all of mankind. We all have flaws, we all will fail, we all are human. We need to stop the labeling and see the person.
Because it is here, on the individual level, where we can follow Jesus and obey his command to "love our neighbor as our self."