Do not be indifferent

I’m pounding the keyboard of my old Dell into the table right now.

I spoke to a young friend earlier today. Yesterday was unseasonably warm for mid-winter. It seems that someone, taking advantage of the thaw, trespassed onto their family’s property and turned on an outside tap. All night long, water flowed through the foundation of the house they’d just purchased, causing considerable damage in the finished basement.

His discouragement seeped through the phone.

This is the family who have adopted the Preacher and me. The youngest, almost two now, calls me Nana. The sweet immigrant family who, along with our son-in-law and grandson, recently sacrificed an entire day to help work at our newly purchased house. The very friends who, on our youngest grandson’s third birthday, transported an entire birthday party – food, cake, dishes, gifts, and all – to our campsite at the lake, because they realized that, not being home, he’d likely miss out on a party. 

We’ve laughed and cried with, played, prayed for and dined with our Indian family. But not everyone they’ve met in our country feels the same. Their skin is darker than that of most people around them. They’re not the same religion and some of their clothing is unusual.

They don’t complain, but I know. In the few years since their arrival in Canada, our friends have encountered more racial discrimination than most of us middle-class white folk will ever experience. Business professionals who don’t keep promises. Cheaters, crooks and abusers, some wearing badges, carrying licences, and sporting degree plaques on their office walls. And plenty of others who look the other way. Welcome to the First World, friends.

Am I mad? Read between the lines. This. Must. Stop.

Kathie’s angry too. In the midst of the Corona Virus crisis, living and ministering in Richmond, B.C., Kathie, a Salvation Army captain, witnessed a white customer verbally bullying two Asian clerks at the pharmacy. He started by loudly claiming that Chinese people were “buying up all the alcohol swabs and sending them back to China, and there will be none left for us Canadians!”Then he escalated into a long rant. The young Aisians reflected total shock.

Kathie, not Irish or red-haired for nothing, told the man to pay and stop ranting. Immediately he turned on her; started calling her names. She stood firm until, “like every bully ever, he stomped off.” Remaining with the clearly shaken young people until they regained their composure, she reassured them that many Canadians appreciate what the Chinese contribute to our country.

At the recent 75th Anniversary Holocaust memorial at Auschwitz, an elderly Jewish survivor, passion infusing his voice, spoke of the Ten Commandments as the foundation of Judeo Christian values. “But there’s an eleventh,” he said, quoting someone else, “Though shalt not be indifferent.” As history repeatedly demonstrates, indifference and silence kill.

In the name of Jesus, and in the face of bullying, stand up. Speak up. Pray up. Preach up. Do anything but shut up. And if you must, write mad.

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