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Salonen: Racism's roots can be linked to moral lack

Roxane Salonen

Though the recent Charlottesville outbreak has been overcome by other devastating occurrences of late, and I'd rather not beat a dead horse, sadly, the horse, still breathing, begs examination.

The complexities of differing skin color came to me early growing up on the Fort Peck Reservation, but in so many ways, my friends and I triumphed. As kids, we mostly didn't notice our differing hues.

Sometimes, the world threw us off guard, but those childhood friendships remain some of my most endearing, and continue to teach me what matters most.

I've also learned, however, that the temptation toward racism affects every human heart, without exception.

Jesus, knowing well our weaknesses, reminded us how to look upon one another through God's eyes and see each other as siblings in one beautiful, bounteous family.

Through the years, people like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., have followed suit; some, even to martyrdom. A pastor on Twitter recently remarked, "The saints of the Americas show us that holiness knows no color."

But if we're to ever eliminate this tired tendency, we need to be honest about what lies at racism's roots, and check our perceptions.

In a recent essay, "Charlottesville Through the Eyes of an Ex-White Supremacist," Christian convert Joseph Pierce reveals how his denial of a good God factored into his former life of hate.

A native of England, Pierce says he was "nurtured in the culture of relativism," at his father's knee and in his public high school, where he learned "a spirit of rebellion against traditional concepts of goodness, truth and beauty."

Without such virtues, he writes, "we cannot avoid breeding viciousness, falsehood and ugliness, and this will include the rise of pride in all its ugly manifestations, including in one's own perceived racial identity."

Relativism "elevates feelings over reason," he says, creating an atmosphere "in which reality is narcissistically self-defined" and "pride runs rampant, not least of which is racial pride, the hateful, often violent type of which we saw in Charlottesville."

And sadly, when we cave to our emotions and respond violently to such events, we lower ourselves to the level of those who have attached themselves to these ideologies.

Two days after the Charlottesville outbreak, the Church celebrated the life of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, a World War II victim who volunteered to die in place of a father who'd been marked for death at Auschwitz.

Though Kolbe likely felt no warmth toward his oppressors, rather than respond in hate to them, he laid down his life for a friend. This is true love: willing the good of another.

The faithful have a supernatural eye to guide. We must do all in our power to resist the lure of racism, and lead the world into love.

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