Friday, March 03, 2006

if i could change the world...

Today at one of the schools I work at, some kids put on an assembly for the student body for Month of Respect. It was awesome! The skits tackled major issues like violence, interracial dating, racism, stereotyping, respect...They took contemporary problems and stretched them out for students to see how prejudice begins, how it infects someone, and what can happen as a result.

"Just because my brother was in a gang, and is now in jail, doesn't mean I'm not going anywhere with my life..."

"Just because my friends use drugs doesn't mean you can label me as a druggie..."

"You don't have to live like your parents have. You can get your degree and get a real job, rather than working for a crappy boss in a crappy job that doesn't even pay enough to support the family."

It got me thinking about our small group discussion last night. About the role of poverty and racism on our culture. Growing up, we never had a respect assembly at my high school, but probably because most of us were working- to middle-class white kids. I could count on one hand the number of black kids who came through our district as I grew up.

But we were diverse in other ways, in our beliefs and values, our dress, the music we listened to, the people we looked up to, what we wanted to do with our lives. And because we were different, we clashed in our own ways. The best advice my mom ever gave me was "treat others as you want to be treated, no matter who they are or what they look like or where they come from." When it comes down to it, the golden rule is still pure bling-bling when it comes to respect.

If I could change the world, I would have it be a place where we all respect one another. I want a place where the whole picture is played out from start to finish like the skits in the assembly, so we all can see where people are coming from, and where they are going. So we can understand them for who they are. A place where kids don't know to recognize someone as "different" but just recognize them as somebody with their own set of values and beliefs and from a unique and amazing culture.

Racism, oppression, poverty, all stems from our sin and the inability to recognize every single person as Christ's beloved creation. Jesus was all about lifting up the oppressed, speaking up for the voiceless, giving strength to the weak...respect and love and forgiveness for everyone, no matter what society had to say about their value.

Out of the mouths of teens came an element of the truth of Jesus' message, and in a totally secular environment like the school assembly, it is still a powerful, life-changing message. Love one another. Have respect for your fellow man/woman. Treat others as you want to be treated.

I am humbled.

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