The summer between high school and college, I worked in construction. I was building houses with a crew and naturally being the new kid, I was given all the “dirty” work. I worked long hours and being the summer it was hot. The money was good and it was helping me to build up a nest egg for the cost of college.
The problem was getting back home before the stores in my hometown closed. Everything (and I mean everything) closed at 6 PM. I had to leave work a little early one day and speed all the way back to New Castle to get a prescription I need to pick up at the pharmacy (we called it a drug store – I guess that isn’t politically correct anymore). I walked into the pharmacy about ten minutes before closing time. Coming straight from work I was dirty, smelly and looked awful.
The lady standing beside me at the counter made a disgusting look and sound directed at me. I remember thinking, I’m sorry to be this way, but you don’t know anything of my circumstances. As soon as the lady left the store, the pharmacist who had known me for most of my life leaned over the counter and said, “That is clean dirt, pay no attention to her.” It is about more than walking a mile in my shoes. It is about human dignity.
Anything that belittles, degrades or wrongfully humiliates another human being because of their skin color, social standing, economic value, age, sex, sexual orientation, faith, looks, intelligence, or handicap is sinful. All of us were created in the image God. All of us have value and importance.
All of us are saddened by what took place at the University of Oklahoma. The spuing of verbal hatred is never acceptable. The problem appeared to be systemic in the fraternity. The university President was correct to shut the fraternity down. Such racism does not occur overnight but is learned long before college.
The Bible challenges us to make friends of all people. To go the extra mile, turn the other cheek and even transform our enemies. When Jesus is betrayed and the slaves ear is cut off, He puts the ear back on the slave. The group came to betray and kill Him, yet Jesus sees the dignity of a slave with an injured ear. The value of every living being.