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By: Rachelle Hamlin
Fort Fairfield Journal, December 10, 2014
For about 13 years, I lived and worked in mid-Florida. Florida joined the Union rather late in the process, trying to remain independent or under other sovereigns until at last it seemed necessary to join the other mainland states. I went there as a native New Englander who had also lived and worked west of the Mississippi and south of the Mason-Dixon line. It didn’t seem strange to me to belong to this mixed culture so far south. I enjoyed being myself and related to others as I had been taught to relate by my god-fearing family in New England.
Dad hated all forms of prejudice and allowed no hint of prejudice to appear in our home or way of life. He went out of his way, in fact, to show kindness and equanimity to everyone, no matter what their beliefs or nationality. As I watched and learned from him I came to realize that he’d been ostracized at times because his prominent nose made him look Jewish. What did I know about prejudice growing up in a prejudice-free environment? Nothing; I never really had to think about it until I lived in Florida.
I was in Florida partly because as a minister I had become interested in improving the lives of American black children. Having an opportunity to live and work with people who had developed a deliberately integrated multi-cultural community I became deeply involved. Immersed with blacks and Hispanics as well as whites, I lived a color-blind life. If I worked with black children and families in particular, it was because they were in greater need of compassion in a community where the KKK was known to be still sly and active. I preached, lived and breathed equality.
Slowly, a sense of unease began to creep into my conscious mind. It started with comments from some white acquaintances labeling me “Yankee” or “fortune 500”. I tried to figure out where this was coming from. I can’t remember all the remarks or incidents, but I remember my shock when a Spanish-speaking minister whose family I’d been friends with for many years clearly showed me he considered me beneath his dignity. Was it because I was a woman minister? White? American? Not Hispanic? What?! Actually it wasn’t until I got the same treatment from a black couple I met only once, that I understood. This was reverse prejudice. All these incidents held this in common: I was the victim of prejudice. Daddy had not prepared me to recognize prejudice when it was directed at me. I, too, was walking with invisible labels stuck to my forehead!
It’s been a long time since I lived in the South. But I have watched our country deteriorate more each year since I did. During the Bush and Clinton Presidencies, less prejudice and more integration existed in the US than now. The spirit of reverse prejudice has grown so large and visible that it is virtually tearing the fabric of our society apart. Under the blanket of political correctness, under the veil of politics, under the disguise of education a hateful, divisive spirit has emerged. It grips our people in two strong fists as it rips the Declaration of Independence in bitsy pieces and scatters the shards across every village and city we possess.
The Declaration of Independence states the truth that all men are created equal.
Reverse prejudice declares the opposite. It declares a false doctrine that all men are not equal. KKK says: You are not my equal. Southern whites say: Yankee, go home. Obama thinks distributing wealth creates equality. Ferguson blacks say Whitey is the problem. So-called leaders like Al Sharpton make a career instilling reverse prejudice into black people and black sympathizers alike. Let’s set the record straight. All people are CREATED equal. God did this and no amount of tear gas will ever erase this fundamental truth.
Color of skin, national origins, social status, wealth, religious belief or unbelief are equally irrelevant. The Declaration of Independence stands as a strong indictment on all actions and words to the contrary. We are equal because we were created in the image and likeness of God-- every one of us. Whether we fail or succeed, we are equal. From China or from Australia, we are equal. Speaking in Hebrew or Arabic, we are equal. Man or woman, we are equal. When I speak I am equal to you. When you speak you are equal to me. Right or wrong, we are equal to each other.
Then what does this equality consist of? It means we love, respect, consider, and care about each other’s well-being. Equality is a light that can shine on any subject, person, event or place and give us the ability to judge it the way God would judge it. A husband needs the light of equality to shine on his wife when she crosses his ego. Co-workers need the light of equality to shine on those who make them feel inferior due to their successes.
Differences between one person and another will always be with us. A world in which every person is exactly alike is one way to define hell. The idea that there should be no fat people because it costs the government money is one way to define insanity. Celebrate diversity. Resist evil Lords. There is only one Lord who will not oppress us; the one who created each individual equal to the next.
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