by David Sisler

Three friends were talking. There were two men and one woman. One man was black. The other two conversationalists were white. Discussing race, the woman said, and she did it without condescension, "I am color blind. I don't see people as black or white."

While I understand what she meant, I have to disagree. I am not color blind. Part of what makes me the person I am is my race. It contributes to my uniqueness as a human being. Take away our racial heritage and you remove much of what makes each one of us special to himself.

One of the positive things happening today is an emergence of pride in our heritage and pride in our culture. It is exciting to see young African-Americans wearing T-shirts or hats which proclaim their identity with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Americans whose ancestry stems from the former iron curtain countries now proudly stage celebrations of their culture. There is a growing appreciation for the Americans who were living in this country before European colonists arrived.

Many things about our racial heritage obviously influence the way we think and act. We learned our values early while associated with our own racial group. We also learned racial stereotypes and racial prejudices from those whose faces look most like our own.

I have some unusual prejudices. I hate pick up trucks and tobacco. I am as serious about it as are the people who hate members of other races. As far as I can determine, their reasons for hating are no better than mine.

Even though my sons own pick-up trucks, I don't like pick-up trucks. I think this prejudice stems from the 12 years during which I drove a Ford Festiva. My two door puddle jumper was a magnet. Or maybe there was some devilish signal - "David is out in his little car. Let's go tailgate him." They were never around when I was in the family van. I used to fear that my obituary would read, "run over by a pick up truck."

My late father-in-law bought a pick-up so he would have something to use to take his garbage to the dump. When he died, Bonnie and I bought it from the estate and gave it to our daughter, who just had to have "Pappy's truck." She later gave the truck back to her mother, and we still have it. When one of our other vehicles is in the shop, it becomes our back-up. I drive it once in a while, but it always zooms in on the rear bumper of any compact car on the road. I do not like pick-up trucks.

I also do not like people who carry tobacco juice spit cups, or people who smoke within two miles of me.

As a teenager I bought a pouch of Beech Nut chewing tobacco, climbed the maple tree which still grows on the corner at 117 Shenandoah Avenue, and got sicker than at any other time in my life. As an adult, I twice quit smoking, the last time when it felt as if three elephants were sitting on my chest.

Those are as good a group of prejudices as any and they make as much sense as hating a person because of his skin color.

There are many people - thankfully - who have never deliberately, purposefully looked at another human being and said, "I am better than you because I am a different color than you. I hate you because you are not of my race." I choose to believe we are in the majority.

Richard Nixon spoke of his supporters as being the silent majority. Well, sometimes silence is golden and other times it is just plain yellow. Hate is all one color - yellow, the color of cowardice. The hating has to stop!

Maybe you think me naive, but I believe we can take our infinite cultural and racial diversities and craft them into infinite combinations of growth for our nation. The results would be a new creation greater than the sum of its parts.

Six score and eighteen years ago, Abraham Lincoln spoke about "a new birth of freedom." Before the baby is stillborn and we destroy ourselves up with hate, we need to start looking for reasons to love and then for ways to implement that love.

If there is ever going to be a new creation, we will need someone who specializes in that field. He died to free us from our sins, and from our hatred. His name is Jesus.


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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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