If you know me, you know I am a huge movie buff. Nothing is better than settling back into a cushy theater seat as the lights dim, knowing I'll get to visit a different time or place or world. It's a kind of magic.
Tonight I went to see 42 - the movie based on the story of Jackie Robinson. At the beginning of the movie, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers decides to bring up a "negro" baseball player - the first non-white player. Mr. Ricky tells Jackie that people won't be welcoming him with open arms. He lists the insults Jackie may face - being turned away from a hotel, not able to use a bathroom or even turned away from locker rooms.
He looks at Jackie and says, "Do you have the guts to not fight back? Do you have guts our Lord and Savior had to turn the other cheek?"
The thing was, Jackie was a fighter. He was tough and not easily intimidated. He had a history of standing up for himself. It was one of the reasons Mr. Ricky picked him in the first place. As he looked through a stack of players, he stared at one dossier and said the man was too sweet-natured and he'd be chewed up and spit back out.
Throughout the movie, you see Robinson booed and insulted. At one point in the game, a manager from another team stands on the sidelines spewing racial slurs and insults. To be honest, I had a really hard time listening to it. I was appalled that anyone would yell that at someone else.
You see the tension on Robinson's face and how badly he'd like to shove those words down that other man's throat. But he doesn't. Instead, he has the guts to walk away.
We could all learn a lot from that example, couldn't we?
I hesitated to write this because a)I'm a white woman and b)I've never had bigotry, hatred or racism aimed at me. It's not like I'm writing this from experience.
But I do know that though this movie was set in the 1940s, this type of hatred is still around. People all over the world experience this because of their skin color, ethnicity, religion or gender. They don't just have ugly words hurled at them - although that is hurtful enough - but often those words escalate into violence. People lose their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones.
Why do we do this to each other? I know, that sounds like a naive question doesn't it? Kind of akin to "can't we all just get along?" But really, why can't we?
Throughout the years, the cruelest and ugliest things have been done to humans beings by human beings.
And these things are not just perpetrated by people who are mentally unhinged either. These are people like you and me - people with jobs and families and grandchildren. How is do you get to the point where you treat another person like they aren't a person?
I think the answer lies, as it always does, with Jesus. It's easy to stereotype a group because you take away their humanity by lumping everyone together. They cease to be an individual.
The Bible says that God so loved the world, and Jesus died to save everyone. But redemption happens one on one, doesn't it?
While Jesus died for everyone, salvation is a powerful yet personal gift. It's an individual thing even after our salvation. God works in us individually. He cares about us in minute detail - down to the number of hairs on our heads.
The thing is, to God, each and every person is precious and beloved. It says He wasn't willing that even one perishes. There's that great parable of the shepherd going out after the one lost lamb, even though 99 were safe in the fold.
As Christians, as believers, there should be no room in our lives for racism or hatred of any kind. Our true enemy isn't other people - it's satan. He just tends to hide behind human shields.
The thing I loved about this movie is you saw that Robinson's behavior changed and challenged his teammates. If he had come out swinging, while they would have probably certainly understood, it wouldn't have touched them the way his ability to both stand tall and turn the other cheek.
Instead of fighting, he had the guts to not fight back. Do we have that kind of courage in the face of ugly words or actions? How do you respond when someone is less than kind to you?
~ Blessings, Bronte