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Recently there has been a big deal made about removing confederate statues. The main reason we hear for doing this is to promote racial peace and harmony. The reasoning is, since the statues are offensive to some people, if you remove the offense you get peace.
But is that really true? Well, no. And that is the problem with so much of the political activism we see these days – it is based on beliefs that are not true.
I have no personal investment in saving confederate statues – or any other kind for that matter. It is certainly important to understand the history the statues represent so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. By the same token, it is also important to not intentionally do things that offend people. But anyone who really thinks that removing statues from public places is going to promote racial peace and harmony has no understanding of what it actually takes to achieve that goal.
What is the real purpose of removing statues? Is it to promote racial peace and harmony? Of course not! It is a political power play. The question we need to ask is: What happens when someone acts offended and initiates unilateral action that make other people upset? All that happens is that now you just have a different set of upset people. Removing statues might remove an offense for some, but it creates offense for others. And most of the time it is actually not because the statues got removed; it is because someone is trying to force their beliefs on someone else. And the end result of that ...? Well, it certainly isn’t greater harmony. In fact, it actually creates greater division. You don’t solve attitude problems by unilaterally imposing a solution.
The trouble with attacking problems in a superficial political way is that you get retaliation. “So, you take down my statue, and I’m gonna take down the symbols that are important to you.” That really helps, right?
But, what if the goal really was racial peace and harmony? What would you do to accomplish that? Well, the first thing that would have to happen is for everyone to understand the source of racial strife in the first place; it is a spiritual problem, not a material one. And how does one solve spiritual problems? Only with spiritual solutions. When you have problems of the heart, the only way to get change is by changing the heart.
But the heart change has to be based on beliefs that are actually helpful for solving the problem. You have to actually believe that racial peace and harmony is more important than any kind of political goal. You have to believe that human relationships are more valuable than outward symbols.
So, where do those kinds of values come from? They come from making relationships one’s highest priority. The most important relationship must be one’s relationship with God – the one who is the source of those kinds of values. Then, because our purpose is to please him, we come to desire peace and harmony with other people.
So, go ahead and pull down monuments. Then, when the other side pulls down your monuments, get mad. But don’t think that by participating in that process peace and harmony will result. And when it doesn’t happen, don’t claim that your goal is racial peace and harmony; because it is not.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
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