Today my thoughts may be a bit scattered and that may be reflected in the title of today’s post. I confess – any logic or reasonable connection to reality may appear to be missing from today’s title. Or maybe I can attribute said title to my love of Dr. Seuss books, which I enjoyed as a child. Then there is my current reality. Due to my December toe injury, my current footwear consists solely of socks and crocs. I only have one pair of crocs at present, but I have many pairs of big, heavy, warm, colorful socks that will fit nicely into my roomy crocs.
So being in rhyming mode already, my thoughts naturally turned to looks and books. And from there, logically progressed to an old but familiar adage, don’t judge a book by its cover. In other words, don’t judge books by their looks! Funny how advice from the past continues to be so applicable to today’s dilemmas. Too bad we seem to have forgotten this particular piece of advice.
Have we not learned that we cannot accurately assess other people by how they look, anymore than we can know what’s actually inside a book until we look beyond its cover and open it up? We don’t need a scientific study to determine if this is true or not. Our own personal everyday experience and interactions with other people confirm to us that it is true – mine confirm to me that it is true – I am too often mistaken if I rely on someone’s outward appearance to assess what kind of a person I believe them to be.
I never get it right. And I am always surprised when I get to know people personally, at the depth and wealth of what is hidden to the world until someone stops to listen and to learn about them. I think of all the books I have not yet read and wonder what treasures I am missing. Likewise, I realize I am missing out on much if I pass over people carelessly, never bothering to lift the cover and learn what lies inside.
So many books, so little time! So many people, so little time! And opening up a book, like looking into a person’s heart, does take time. Maybe that’s why critical race theory and intersectionality are so popular right now. They are shortcuts to doing the real work of reading the book or getting to know another human being. What is the short cut? Critical race theory and intersectionality both rely on the cover of a person, on the outward appearance and trappings, which can be instantly assessed, in order to form judgments and make decisions about any particular individual.
How does this work in real life? One is to look at a person’s gender, age, skin color, clothes, where they live, what they drive, any outward thing from which a conclusion is to be drawn based on what age group or skin color group or economic group or educational group or religious group it can be determined that the individual might belong to. So ironically, critical race theory, is the most racist of all theories and the most racist of all realities when put into practice.
Why? Because it says judge a person by the color of their skin, their gender, their ethnic heritage, etc.. It says judge a person by outward appearance, you don’t have to take the time to look inside – to have a conversation, to listen and to learn about a real person. Every person is just a demographic, a number, a statistic in critical race theory, a statistic to be controlled and manipulated for someone else’s personal gain.
Theories are not real life. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew this truth, which he stated so eloquently saying that individuals should be judged by “the content of their character not the color of their skin.” He knew the measure of the man, so to speak, was on the inside not the outside of a person. That’s why critical race theory doesn’t work, it relies on the unreliable. The cover of a book doesn’t reveal all there is inside the book, waiting to be read. The skin color of a person doesn’t reveal anything of their character, their heart, their mind, their life experiences, their accomplishments, their hopes or their dreams. Critical race theory tells us to make decisions/judgments about people based on their skin color rather than on who they actually are. That’s as racist as one can get!
Our grandparents did have the right idea when they told us not to judge a book by its cover. Someone else who doesn’t do that is God, our Creator. We read in 1 Samuel 16:7,
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ”
Then in Matthew 23:27-28 I read what Jesus said,
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
In the same way, the outside of a person, including their skin color or race, tells me nothing about the inside of the person. And the inside is the true essence of the person, their character, their spirit, all that makes them unique and sets them apart from every other person. But it takes time, intention and hard work to get to know another person, to let them into your life and you into theirs.
No wonder CRT is so popular in this era when we are pressed for time and more truly, don’t really want to do the work looking beyond the appearance/surface of another person would require. So instead, CRT gives us created categories, divisions, artificial boxes to assign people to based on groups which naturally occur but shouldn’t and didn’t previously define us. Meaning we automatically belong to a gender group and a skin color group and an age group, while other groups we move in and out of depending on choices and circumstances throughout our lives. These would be economic groups, educational groups, political groups, religious groups, career groups etc.
This allows me to relate to another person simply as a member of a larger group (whatever that group might be) rather than relate to them as the unique individual that they are. And that is my loss. In fact, it is a huge loss for all of us, when we allow these ways of thinking to decide how we will walk in this world in relation to other people. If I choose to relate to others only as members of a particular group, the opportunity to know who they really are is lost. And all I had to do was to open the cover and look inside.
This is why our world is so divided at the moment. It is easy to hate a group of people that you don’t know. It is harder to hate an individual whose story you know personally, even if CRT would assign you to different categories and so divide you from those you know and prevent you from hearing the stories of those you don’t yet know.
Just a few days ago, I was in a group where a woman I know somewhat but not well, shared an experience from her life and I was stopped in my tracks. I had no idea what she had been through. And as I said, it takes time, lots of time, to get to know someone well. Time and opportunity to share stories and form bonds are needed. I am always surprised by peoples’ stories. When I hear them, I realize that I have no idea what individual people are carrying around with them on a daily basis. (this lady is a courageous hero, but she doesn’t wear a sign, so you would never know unless you looked deeper than her cover)
In today’s cyberspace, zoom meeting, virtual everything existence, we are more isolated and divided than before COVID. Without the opportunity for face to face encounters and in person community gatherings and family gatherings etc. there will be little chance to share personal stories and bridge the gaps created by destructive theories such as CRT. Theory does not have to become reality in our daily lives. We have a choice. Romans 12:15 tells me to,
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Live life in community with other people. Tear down walls, categories and labels that would divide us from each other. Galatians 3:28 says,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
God is a God of unity, not of division. I love the words of 1 Corinthians 13:12 which say,
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
face to face and fully known! – to know others for who they truly are and to be known for who I truly am – not misunderstood or overlooked – no more divisions – this is the desire of every heart! – this is the desire of my heart.
I am always wishing to hear more of peoples’ stories – so many stories to be shared – and there will be time to listen to each and every story, from each and every person, with time left over to hear them all again – after all, eternity will not run out . . .
sincerely, Grace Day