Confessing… June 20th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2618)

VII.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

I was eleven years old, sitting in the back seat of a car, thrilled out of my mind, leaving the state of Ohio for the first time.

I was so excited that I was jabbering like a drunken parrot–so much so that the adults in the front seat finally had to tell me to hush up and take a nap.

I was heading off for four days in the mountains of Oklahoma to enjoy a camp. When we arrived, I was surrounded by men of all ages expressing goodwill to one another, hugging and laughing with freedom and delight.

It felt like heaven–at least my eleven-year-old perception.

We gathered for meetings, discussions, speeches and songs. A theme soon creeped to the forefront:

“America is in trouble because of its sin, liberal ideas and the races beginning to mingle.”

Around the fire, the men who had been so generous in their love for one another told jokes about black people looking like monkeys and how stupid “the coloreds” were.

One word kept coming to the forefront–“nigger.”

I had heard it before in Ohio, but here it was commonspeak, and was usually accentuated with some “Amens,” giggles and grunts of approval.

I was surrounded.

I was outnumbered.

I looked to the men who had brought me on this journey for guidance. They, too, found themselves in the minority so they joined the mob.

Who was I to object?

So I laughed, I criticized, I mocked and for those four days, I became a racist. Hating black people made complete sense to me.

As we made our way home, the men who were driving the car dissipated their foul language and horrible attitudes. They were trying to go back to who they were without acknowledging who they had become.

I was troubled.

Even though I didn’t know any black people, I saw no reason to judge them from a distance.

As I aged I became more and more infuriated with the racism thrust upon me by men of seeming goodwill, surrounding me with their verbal piss and swill.

I was reminded of the Psalm that says, “Do not dwell in the council of the ungodly.”

I thought about that for a long time.

I realized that to be against racism, bigotry and alienation of my fellow-man, I would have to be willing to be outnumbered and still heard.

I would have to escape those who thought it was funny to devastate others as a joke.

I would have to be different.

When I received the news this week that nine of my brothers and sisters were slain in Charleston, I looked at the young boy who was the perpetrator.

He was me.

If I had continued to hang around the vile bigotry that was spoken to me during those four days, and persisted in coexisting with supremacists, perhaps a logical conclusion to my warped mind would be to strike my own blow.

For you see, if I had dwelt with the “council of the ungodly” I could have just as easily tried to make my point with a gun.

Charleston is not about what a confused, debilitated and ignorant boy did in a church. It’s about how each one of us is occasionally outnumbered by stupidity–and we need to learn to find it within ourselves…to speak out.

 

Confessing boy on bench

 

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