“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”
I deeply admire Nelson Mandela. In 2004, I was fortunate enough to visit Robben Island in South Africa and see the remote prison where Mandela had been incarcerated. As I stepped inside his tiny barren cell, I was overwhelmed with what had been his reality: imprisoned for 27 years in the fight against Apartheid. I remember standing there with this eerie silence as the magnitude of his situation filled my mind. How can we live in a world where people have to fight for the right to be treated as equals?
As Christians, we know that every person of every race was created by the same God in His image. We also know that “whoever says he is in light but hates his brother is still in darkness” (1 John 2:9). When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He had a concise response.
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:37-40
Racism mocks the very words of Jesus. If we believe in Christ, it is important that we recognise each person as a son or daughter of God. This means that respect for others is a core tenant in our beliefs. At its very core, racism is not treating others as God wants us to treat them. Racism is not loving our neighbour.
We live in a corrupt and sinful world. This has been made very evident this past week with the news coming out of the USA. It is vital that we stand up against racism, that we act out of love towards others and that we teach our young people the values of love, respect and integrity. Having a moral compass seems to be lacking for so many in society. As educators, I believe that we have a duty to train the next generation to love rather than hate, to respect rather than denigrate and to value rather than demean. We can help shape our students’ futures by giving them a strong moral compass to navigate through uncertain times.
What then is the remedy for racism? Put simply, it is love. God’s love can counter hate. It can counter fear. It is a powerful force for change. We must be a living church and an active school that stands together in love against racism, bigotry, hate and revenge. It is our responsibility to help our young people to see and treat others in the way that God would want. We can and must teach our students to show the love of God through their words, actions and attitudes.
-Mrs Meggan James, Nunawading Christian College Principal