This past Sunday morning I talked about three L’s of peace-making—listen, lose and love. In this article, I would like to talk a little about one hindrance to peacemaking—trivialization. How do you feel when you share something that moves you very deeply and upsets you, and the person with whom you share it rolls their eyes and says, “Get over it” (especially if the other person is your spouse)? Your normal response is, “Okay. I don’t know what I was thinking. Thanks for setting me straight.” Yeah, right. You feel rejected.
There are people in this country who have been saturated with not just respect, but a reverence for the flag. Their allegiance to flag and country is not merely a rational decision, but a culturally infused value system that cannot even be fully articulated. To see someone show disrespect to the flag ignites such a revulsion and resentment, that they feel compelled to respond with righteous indignation. They are confused and angered when their expressions of indignation are equated to the affirmations of systemic racism in America. How can patriotism be equated with racism? Trivializing their feelings, does not promote racial reconciliation.
There are African Americans who still feel the sting of racial prejudice. The young man who was my associate pastor in Florida is African American. He is a very kind and gentle man, who was pretty big. He was the state high school wrestling champ in Florida. He said that what was discouraging was the look of fear in the eyes of white people when he approached or walked by. He was seen as a threat simply because he is black. White Americans should be very careful about saying, “Get over it,” when they have not walked in the shoes of their African American brothers and sisters or even talked to them about it.