Communication is a complicated thing. Too often, our words are misunderstood. Our assumptions cloud the message. Someone said that “good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”
The cultural debate is plagued with misunderstanding. The radicalized left seems to believe that no good thing dwells within America nor its history. The strong language of the right emphasizes an unwillingness to learn and feel the hurts of those marginalized in our society. The majority of us cannot align ourselves with either extreme.
Here are two terms that have become convoluted, and because of that, we need to clarify what we mean when we use them.
1. Black Lives Matter
Yes, they do! They must! I’m okay with the rallying call “Black lives matter.” We must face the reality of racism and the injustices the black community has experienced. However, I’m not okay with the organization called #Black Lives Matter. The former seeks to improve our society, but the latter is a political Marxist-like movement that wants to dismantle it. Their charter states that they want to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure…” which, by the way, is Biblically-prescribed! They also hold views that are anti-Zionist and inflammatory toward Israel. These are causes for concern, not on the same level or with the same urgency as our concern for our Black and Brown brothers and sisters, but concern just the same. Don’t you find it unsettling that the figure of Lenin in Seattle is still standing undefaced while the tributes to Frederick Douglass in New York and abolitionist, Hans Christian Heg, in Wisconsin have been destroyed? I do and I believe it is evidence of how the truth that Black lives matter has been co-opted to represent something else. The bottom line is that in regards to BLM, we can affirm the cry but we must denounce the organization.
If you’re searching for a way to communicate solidarity with people of color, considering using alternative phrases which also speak to value and compassion: Everyone Against Racism, End White Silence, Love Over Hate, or I Support Black Lives.
2. American Capitalism
No form of human government is perfect. However, I can’t think of a better place to live than America. Every country and people have blemishes. It is prideful and dishonest to think otherwise. The good news is we have a representative government with a free enterprise system of commerce, founded on Judeo-Christian principles. But as we have lost our moral compass, we have lost our credibility and integrity. We have pursued free enterprise outside of the principles of care and compassion and forgotten to love our neighbor.
First, there is a good form of capitalism. It is committed to a strong work ethic (2 Thessalonians 3:10). It conducts business honestly and fairly (Proverbs 11:1; 16:11). It is generous with its profits. It holds to the ethic that one is blessed to be a blessing (Deuteronomy 15:11; Proverbs 19:17; Luke 6:38). It recognizes the importance of private property (Deuteronomy 19:14 Exodus 2):17). It believes that all should experience liberty and justice.
Second, there is a bad form of capitalism. This kind of free enterprise is driven by selfishness. Materialism becomes its god. It believes “what I have is mine and I deserve more.” In this system, the rich become richer faster than anyone else. As the disparity between the rich and the poor increases, so does the tension between the two.
Sadly, when I listen to the fears of some conservatives, I wonder if all they are concerned about is losing their stuff. They want to make sure their money is secure while turning a blind eye to inequality and injustices around them.
Here’s the bottom line: Christianity is not called to defend capitalism. Capitalism without God leads to greed, and that is never good!
BEFORE YOU GO
Understanding begins with empathy. The Bible says that we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Empathy is more than listening. When we empathize, we actually start to feel what another person feels. We are slow to judge and willing to hear the other side.
Empathy puts into action that which validates another’s hurts and fears. James 2:14-17 says this– “What does it profit if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
What are your thoughts? How can we understand and care for each other more?