Tomorrow, at a ceremony in honor of Black History month, I’m to give the opening prayer. Already, my mind has been at work–what will I say in this prayer? God knows I want to be respectful and mindful of all who will be in attendance.
But I’m also burdened with the need to highlight the problem with the “other” in our culture. What do I mean?
The “other” is another way of saying, “Not us, but “them.” It’s what our culture has been using for centuries and decades to divide humanity. It’s our stereotypes. Our prejudices. Our suspicions. Our slights.
Or as one friend of mine has framed the matter, “Otherness emanates from our response to the illusion of separation.”
But are we so different than the “other”?
Furthermore, it is what caused a 57-year-old Indian man to be assualted by a police officer in Madison, Alabama, because a neighbor called and described him as a “skinny black man, looking suspicious.”
This is just one example of our behavior and reaction toward the “other.”
Our culture will never be healed of its ongoing racial and socioeconomic divide until we overcome this unfortunate and deeply ill-conceived ideology of the “other”–which is in all of us.