Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived, but that certainly doesn’t mean that he was perfect. He embraced the way of the culture around him and married many wives. The Lord gave him incredible wisdom and he was known far and wide for that wisdom. The Lord allowed him, rather than his father David, to build the temple of God.
Even with all of his wisdom, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:18, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” It seems that the more he knew and understood, the more wisdom and knowledge that he gained, the more grief he added to his life. I wonder how true that is for us. There is a simplicity to having little information.
Remember what it was like when you were a child. You didn’t have a lot of understanding and knowledge about the world, and yet, life seemed so free and wonderful. Worries were less. Days, especially summer days, seemed eternal with laughter, fun, and activities. But once we began to learn and understand the world, we began to get a glimpse at what was really happening around us. The old adage that ignorance is bliss seems to ring true.
In the wake of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin verdict, less information seems like we might be blissfully ignorant. But the fact of the matter is that we can’t ignore certain facts. We can’t ignore the fact that the victim was a young African American teenager. We can’t ignore the fact that prejudice has been deep-seated in our country that, despite legislation and prohibition, still continues to rear its ugly head.
The problem is, we have a tendency to believe the first thing we see, hear, or read rather than taking the time to investigate. We have to understand that there is more than one side to every story and if we want to exercise wisdom, we need to seek out truth in being informed about every side. In volatile situations, we tend towards our own preconceived notions rather than seeking out the truth. When we seek out the truth, it can often lead to disappointment for us, especially when we have cemented ourselves in our own preferences.
I am a middle-aged white male who has known privilege for most of my life. When the windows of my world began to broaden and my own ignorance was exposed, I was shocked to see that things were much different than I expected. My parents raised me and my brother not to distinguish between colors and ethnicities. They lived out Christ’s love to every race in a very personal way and I am grateful for that. I have not known prejudice to the extent that many in this country have known it. For that, I am grateful.
But just because I have not experienced it does not mean that I am ignorant of it or that I lack sensitivity towards those who experience it. Many of those who I know that have experienced racism are incredibly bright and intelligent people. When they have experienced prejudice, it has had nothing to do with their intellect and has everything to do with the color of their skin. That saddens me.
But it also saddens me that every time a crime is committed that involves someone of a different ethnicity, the stereotypes come flying out, regardless of whether they are real or not. Some might say that they are real as long as people experience prejudice and racism within this country. Some may say that its real because the facts speak to that racism and prejudice. At what point does it not become an issue and who makes that decision?
I am saddened that a young African American man lost his life. I am saddened that the answers that have come forth in the case don’t seem to significantly clarify the reality of the case. I am saddened that there is a man who, even before his trial began, was deemed “guilty” in a country where we claim to believe in innocence until proven guilty. I am saddened that this case has further divided a country that so desperately needs to learn to coexist and cooperate with one another.
What saddens me more than this is that there are some people in this country who turn an ignorant and blind eye towards prejudice and racism claiming that it does not exist. Regardless of where a person falls in their opinion about this case, the greater issue is that we need to work towards breaking down the racial barriers that continue to divide us.
We have tried for more than half a century through legislation and other means to break down these barriers, but legislation only goes so far in our relationships. Relational restoration and reconciliation is the only long-lasting method by which we can begin to heal the hurts and terrors of the past. This only happens when we come together. I am doing my part in the relationships that I have to break down these barriers, but I know that I can do more.
Wherever you are today in your opinion, take time to think about the other side, regardless of whether or not you agree. In looking at things from a different perspective, you just might learn something, and in learning something, you might find that you gain wisdom and knowledge and at the same time, you experience a little grief in the discovery that things are not as you always thought they were.