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Racism in the Public Conversation

Racism in the Public Conversation

The constant media coverage of public events that involve people of different races continues to be of deep concern to me.  Catholics believe in the inalienable dignity of every human life from the moment of conception and throughout life regardless of the color of one’s skin, national or ethnic origins, sexual inclinations, gender or age, economic status or anything else that distinguishes one person from another. Our duty as followers of Christ is to treat each person as a beautiful creation of God. We have no right to treat another as “less than” simply because of something that makes them different from ourselves.

That does not mean that we are blind to injustice or matters of morality, but it does mean we must approach each complex event with humility and compassion. Each actor in events under consideration is a person with a long personal story. We must give some time for that story to emerge without rushing to the harsh and rash judgments which are so prevalent today. It is too easy to be swayed by our biases or our own personal experiences. Facts matter. The court of public opinion is not our way of justice and far too often leads to acts of further violence, destruction and injustice. We must make room in our lives for justice and mercy. We celebrate God as the eternal and all powerful Creator who is defined as Love.  The enduring testimony of Sacred Scripture and of a long line of wise fathers and mothers in the faith has been that “God is Love.”

When we see true racism in ourselves or in our community or in society or in our government or community leaders, we must do our part to change hearts and minds.

I am very concerned that in the current climate, it seems that almost every conflict is labelled quickly as a act of racism, but is that true? Is it helpful? Does it make us more loving or wise, more compassionate, more just or more merciful?  

We must strive to see each other as brothers and sisters in the human family. Some family members have serious problems and/or behaviors that need to be addressed. Mental illness, poverty, addictions, lack of opportunity are real factors. So is sin. We don’t always behave. Human nature is good, but we are all subject to sins and temptations. Crimes happen. Enforcement mechanisms are necessary and that means we must rely on police officers and the criminal and civil justice systems.

I believe that all of us must take a hard look at what we can do to help ensure a more just society.

— Fr Hans Ruygt

 
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