About half a century ago, there was this race-based struggle going on within my country, in which blacks wanted to simply claim they were human beings like the rest of the world. At the present day, many of us look back on the phenomenon of separate drinking fountains and bathrooms as laughable. How could we have been so bigoted?
Of course, racism and other forms of bigotry still exist.
Around the same time in Uganda, according to Rev. Ongeng of Lira, Pentecostal pockets were springing up around his country. Many of its leaders were claiming that the Church of Uganda clergy and parishioners were “not saved.” They were cited as the people who wore collars. Certainly these new charismatic folk were more at one with the salvation of God.
Today some of these allegations about who is in and who is out are laughable to some Ugandans. Much as there is still racism in the US, Uganda still has its laggards who are stuck in the era of religious discrimination. But on the other hand, there have been improvements. Anglican, Catholic, Muslim, and Pentecostal leaders often gather to assess community needs in the regions throughout the country. Our friend Sisy tells us of an annual event in which her Pentecostal group would tour with Catholics, Anglicans, and Muslims to share God’s word and love.
Hate almost always begins with the fear of the “other” at its source. Fear that blacks are threatening our livelihood, culture, and economy. Fear that Pentecostals are not following proper dogma. Fear that Anglicans have too much religious influence in a community. What about the fear that Muslims are terrorists? Or the fear that homosexuals will convert our children to their “lifestyle”? Or the fear that Latino immigrants will take our jobs?
Fear is almost always infused into the populous through ideology. Through propoganda and the self-interest of those who seek power. Fear is the origin of hate. Take a look at the Third Reich, the genocide in Rwanda, the USA’s War on Drugs and Poverty. None of these historical events produced positive outcomes, despite having seemingly reasonable motivations at the time.
There is a necessity to rationalize before acting upon fear. Human beings were not constructed to act upon their fears, but on their hopes. This is what produces life.
Human beings have many of the same values, as a general rule: relationships, beauty, justice, freedom, faith. Why should we instill fear to fully realize these values, and why should we respond to our fears when such responses have historically proven to be counterproductive in our efforts to fulfill our noble dreams?
The next time someone demonstrates prejudice toward another person for any reason, be it their skin color, their religious garb, their creeds, their nationality, their sexuality, or their gender – ask him (and yourself) whether he is responding to his fears or his hopes, and which response might produce more favorable outcomes.