Monday, April 8, 2013

Black and white

Many years ago I vowed that I would never go to Haiti again. I was there to help in making a movie about a mission project, and I was staying in a modest but very nice motel. It didn't look like our motels...more like an expansive home. We lived well, and food was provided. But the sad thing was that just across the street, not 50 feet from my deck, was squalor. People were living in abject poverty. The worst I had ever seen. Why should I live any better than these people, also created in the image of God? I couldn't take it. I wanted no more of it. Certainly things weren't that bad in my country.

Years later, providential prodding put me right in the middle of the Maurice Carter case. And that drew me to the twin cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. Shades of Haiti! Abject poverty on one side of the river. Opulence on the other side. 90 percent black in Benton Harbor. 90 percent white in St. Joe.

The reason for these thoughts right now: I'm on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, enjoying a family visit. Here we see wealth beyond imagination. Beautiful homes on golf courses and ponds. Expensive cars that rarely travel down roads in my community. But yesterday, we entered the island from a different direction. "These are native islanders," explained our host. It was only a cut above a ghetto, all black folks, a tiny beauty parlor for African American ladies, a simple little church for the black folks. It looked like the old south. Then we went through a gate, into one of the communities of the rich. Total contrast.

In my prison work I've tried to become color blind, and I forget that the rest of the world isn't that way. Many don't wannabe either, methinks.

In Christ there is no east or west. And all men are created equal. But there's a lot of evidence to the contrary.

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