The Light was Red
Today, as I was driving to church I came upon my first intersection guided by traffic lights. I looked to see if the light was green and what the pedestrian light was saying. Satisfied that I had followed all the guidelines of good driving I preceded to motor through the intersection…until a speeding car to my left ran through the red light. I put on the brakes and fortunately for me, the other car hit only the front corner of my car.
I am not sure whether I came to a complete stop in the middle of the intersection…or whether I drove to the other side of the intersection and pulled to the side of the road. I got out of the car and motioned to the driver of the other car to drive over to where I was. The driver was a young lad, 17 years old. His first question to me was, “did I run a red light?” “Yes, you certainly did.” In my mind I kept seeing one of my young nephews behind the face of this lad. Standing behind him, I saw my sisters, my brothers as his parents…
He told me that he was on his way to meet some friends at a hotel further down the street; he was late getting there. I think because I hadn’t been hurt, the car damage was minimal, and I kept seeing my nephews in his face, my reaction was kinder than it might have been had he not fit my Western European Caucasian nephews’ faces.
So, what does that say about me? What does that say about the blessings and curses of stereotyping? How does that fit into the message of the gospel? Does it mean, “welcome the familiar?” Yesterday was September 11, I taught a class of twenty students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. All had chosen this class because of their interest in self-care and being whole. In one part of my class I asked students to focus on memories of September 11th from three years ago and where they felt that memory in their bodies. Next they were asked to think of hope for a new framing of the date of September 11th for today and the future; again they were asked to be aware of where in their body they viscerally felt that hope. The students broke into dyads and talked over these questions. They were then asked to return to the large group to describe their body awareness and their hope.
Half way around the group, a young man who did not fit the physical make up of my Western European Caucasian nephews spoke. His words were brief. He was an American and as a result of September 11th, his life changed drastically. He left the room after he spoke…unable to hold the grief he had experienced due to his racial and ethnic background. “And Jesus said, who is my brother?”