By now, most of us have probably seen, or at least heard about the (for some stupid reason) controversial new Coke commercial…
The media seems to do their best to keep the majority of its viewers ignorant of truly important issues, but we as a society seem to be perfectly capable of remaining willfully ignorant and distracting ourselves without too much help from the “news.” After all, Samuel Coolridge (1772 -1834) predicted that in the future, the West would suffer from a culture wide phenomenon of ‘idiocy of the will.’ It appears that Mr. Coolridge was pretty spot on in his prediction.
One of the most recent incidences of mass idiocy was the harsh, wide-spread racist reaction to the Coca-Cola commercial that ran during this year’s Super Bowl. In the midst of this mess, I think there are people who are racist, and then I think there are people who are just ignorant. Not to say that racist people aren’t ignorant. But there are people who are racist who aren’t quite sure why they are, or where exactly that came from. They have been taught, brought up, and discipled poorly. It’s not entirely their heart; they just haven’t been informed.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ has broken down the walls of hostility, has restored and established peace, and there is now one race; not two, or three, or four, etc. However, there is still widespread racism in this country, and it isn’t all Anglo… there is even intra-race racism still prevalent today. It’s this silly, “I am better than you. I am more valuable than you. I have more worth than you” idea. It is a dehumanization of another person and another group of people. That’s the essence of racism. In fact, every genocide that has ever occurred, almost all injustice that has ever been wrought, has been birthed out of this idea: “We are superior to… we are better than… we are more deserving… by birth.” What did you do? You were born. You contributed, you earned nothing. How does that make you superior? Simply that you were born?
It is very foolish to go on pretending that we are all born with equal footing, and if we would just exert the same amount of energy we could all end up at the same place. You are not viewing the world correctly if that’s how you see it. I’m sorry if that comes as a shock, but if you believe you’ve gotten to where you are because of your hard work and unearned privileges didn’t play a significant role in it, you’re not seeing the world correctly. This in no way discredits your hard work, skillful planning, and diligent effort in achieving goals you’ve set, but we must all admit that a great deal of our opportunities came about regardless of ourselves.
We really need to stop deluding ourselves into believing we are better than anyone else by some kind of birth-right. Can anyone honestly say that they devised how their frame would be formed in the womb? If they’d grow up to be big, strong, and athletic? If they’d be inclined towards having good health? Has anyone decided at the moment of conception if they’d be raised in a palace, or in poverty? Did anyone reading this decide as an embryo whether their parents would love them well and provide for them? Did any of us choose the place or the hour of where we were born? Anybody work really hard to control or influence any of these factors? Think with me then, what can any of us truly claim? Not a thing really. We didn’t even choose our own name! Really, just consider this: can any of us recall a single thing that is not a gift in this life? When we honestly give credit where credit is due, we see that everything is grace after all. Our skin tone, hair and eye color, height, age, language(s) learned, nationality, etc. is honesty all outside of our complete control. We are all beggars, called to be good stewards of what we have been given by grace.
Something else that specifically Christians need to understand is that God, as the triune three-in-one Being, created humans in His image as persons-in-relation; forever confronted with differences among them. Widespread sameness, the failure to recognize differences, therefore does not capture God’s heart for creation and His communitarian nature. Diversity is at the core of a relational creation that glorifies God. Differences honor God in that they make for better relationships – and better humans.
As humans create culture – filling, subduing, and ruling the world according to God’s Genesis mandate, they form social groups around cultural commonalities. Like the value-laden work involved in male-female relationships, crossing cultural barriers not only sharpens but also beautifies. God’s creativity explodes in and through cultural expression. Diversity, in all its forms, not only makes people more like God in developing relationships but also opens up a life of joy and worship. So we should appreciate many beautiful and redemptive things about this Coca-Cola commercial, and not respond ignorantly by exploding with hateful cultural-homogeneous desiring ridiculousness.
We should embrace, respect, and celebrate the truth spoken by Katie Bayne, president of North America Brands, Coca-Cola, when she said, “With ‘It’s Beautiful,’ we are simply showing that America is beautiful, and Coke is for everyone…. ‘It’s Beautiful’ is exactly what Coca-Cola is all about: celebrating the diversity that makes this country great and the fact that anyone can thrive here and be happy. We hope the ad gets people talking and thinking about what it means to be proud to be American.” (Bayne’s quotes were taken from the Coca-Cola Company article on the ad: ‘It’s Beautiful’: Coke Debuts Inspiring Ad During Super Bowl)
Prayer (Part 3) – Racial Reconciliation by Matt Chandler