Life this weekend has been an absolute swamp of end-of-semester grading.Â I’m slowly getting across it, thankfully; after two days of strenuous effort and large quantities of hot tea, I’m now approximately 2/3 of the way through my horrendously large stacks ofÂ papers (Note to anyone contemplating a career as an English teacher: Consider teaching P.E. instead.)
But I don’t want to make today’s meditation about grading.Â Instead, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I’m thinking about something more serious, namely the divisions in our society.Â There are so many of them, and they are based on so many things: race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, political affiliation, country of origin, you name it.Â It’s as if we humans are looking for ways to categorize and dismiss other groups of people.Â Maybe, on some level, we are; you can certainly argue that dismissing a group of people is easier than getting to know them and risk having our own little branch of the tree shaken by a challenging new perspective.Â (In a busy life, it’s certainly less time-consuming, too.)
At any rate, I came across this quotation, and it got me thinking. “At the heart of racism is the religious assertion that God made a creative mistake when He brought some people into being,” said the sociologist Frederick Hertz.Â I think these words are a call for all of us to stop and wonder if there is any little part of that quotation that reflects our own thoughts.Â Are there certain groups of people that we feel are simply God’s “creative mistakes”?
The teachers at my Catholic school, way back when, always taught that every human life is precious, and that we all deserve to be treated with dignity.Â I’m glad I grew up hearing that message, over and over, even though it is [admittedly] sometimes hard to live up to.Â Â And I’m glad that today is dedicated to a man who pointed out that true religious faith and racism simply don’t mix.
Dr. King gave his life to shaking the tree of our complacency.Â This week, I’m going to think about small ways that I can do the same.