G. K. Chesterton defined bigotry as “an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition” and wrote that “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”
It is not wrong to think that Officer Wilson was justified in killing Michael Brown or that those who looted and rioted were committing criminal acts. I definitely agree with the latter and have no trouble believing the former.
It is wrong, however, to assume the right to tell others how they should think and feel without any attempt to understand how they actually think and feel.
It is wrong to tell the African-American community that they should not mourn the loss of another young black male because he was just a thug, brought his death upon himself, and the real problem is black-on-black violence, especially when you make no effort to express sympathy or empathy–to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
It is wrong to assume that your experience as a middle-class white suburbanite is valid and somehow gives you the insight and ability to immediately assess every situation while telling African-Americans that their experience is not valid.
It is wrong to assume the moral high ground–on either side of the issue–without having any dialogue with someone on the other side. (Chesterton also said that “Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot.”)
It is wrong to shout down people who disagree with you and bully them into taking down their posts.
It is wrong to assume that if they take a position different than yours that they are promoting looting, rioting, and violence against police (seriously, is anyone actually advocating those things?) or that they must be a racist.
It is wrong to think your own race is the only one that views issues of race objectively or correctly.
It is wrong to attack the image of God in another human being–in word, thought, or deed–just because they believe, act, or look differently than you.
We don’t all have to agree on everything, but let’s treat each other with a little compassion (and, for Christians, with gospel grace), and let’s remember that the onus is on each of us–no matter what stance we take on issues like these–to work for the good.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:18, 21)