Today I want to honor the people of my hometown. I grew up in the same community as Henry Louis Gates, the “preeminent black scholar and Harvard professor” who has been so much in the news this week over an incident of alleged racial profiling in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Henry was a couple of years older than me, and I really don’t know what sort of things he might have experienced growing up. I’m sure he’s had some hurtful experiences that could add kerosene to any racial fires burning in America. But I’m hoping he’ll decide to use his stories and memories in a more holy way.
In the meantime, the interracial friendships of Henry’s hometown are light years ahead of the stuff we’re hearing about in the news. And they didn’t arrive at that place by shouting and pointing fingers. The “Tri-Towns” of Piedmont, West Virginia, Westernport and Luke Maryland is a community where Blacks and Whites live together, worship together, and grieve together out of respect and genuine affection for one another. Most of my hometown friends of either race could teach both the Harvard professor and the Cambridge police department a good lesson in civility: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” (Prov. 15:1)
It’s a kingdom thing, isn’t it? Once we realize that we’re all brothers and sisters in an amazing family of diversity and wonder, we begin to honor and respect the person next door regardless of all the things that might come between us.
I can’t imagine racial conciliation ever becoming a reality in the absence of the Kingdom; There’s just too much pride, anger, and self-importance at work in the fallen sons of Adam. Still… as the world marches in circles trusting its broken tools of castigation, litigation, and legislation, the amazing sons and daughters of the Kingdom will quietly enjoy loving each other under the tender gaze of their Father. So to all of my hometown friends of whichever color you happen to be, I’m proud of you, and glad to be a part of the family!