"They always act that way."
"Look what they've done to our country."
"They think they're better than us."
"They don't know what it's like."
Benjamin Watson wrote a wonderful book (Under Our Skin) based on his viral Facebook post following the deeply unfortunate Ferguson, Missouri death and riots. In chapter 7, talking about the offensive language and symbols that intensify the racial divide in our country, he refers to something called "The Danger of a Single Story." This is the same title of a TED talk from 2009 by Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Without getting into her creatively written and communicated talk, she summarizes the essence of bigotry, racism, and prejudice: we use single or similar accounts to make conclusions about a certain group of people. It may or may not be on purpose and it may or may not be based on the right information, but it still happens.
Generalizing a "they" from single stories and accounts creates a danger that keeps us from truly loving, understanding, and relating to people. It also creates a chasm between different age groups that live life differently from each other. For example, our young people that are currently entering college-age have never not known life without internet, smart phones, social media. Ever since our teenagers were infants their parents have had access to information and entertainment rather quickly. Now, people my age (50ish) observe what these "Millenials" are doing and we make all kinds of assumptions regarding what our current societal struggles are.
"Well, if they'd put down their phone more often . . ."
"They just need more actual human interaction."
"How will they lead in the future, from their phone?"
How much of our information comes from the media, or our neighbor's perspective, or our own prejudice's growing up? God gives us the best perspective on people in Isaiah 53:6 - All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The TED talk was 11 years ago, the Ferguson riots were 6 years ago. Over the past 6 years, and especially over the last 6 months, there have been many other people who have creatively and eloquently tried to communicate what is happening and what we need to do. Yet, no matter how many games are boycotted, how many statements are written, how many peaceful protests there are, it almost seems like we'll be returning to these same concepts (or worse) in 6 and 11 years.
Let's, together, run to Jesus, on whom the iniquity of us all has been laid, for He died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Did you see that . . . THE WHOLE WORLD. None of us have this figured out and none of us can say that we have all the answers. The best advice that I've heard is ONE WORD. IT's a word that's only truly possible to do AFTER running to Jesus. It's a word that, if we all practice it consistently and compassionately, will revive this love that's been lost - the word is . . . listen.