I'm currently reading Tim Keller's book "The Meaning of Marriage". My wife and I work with young couples at our church and I want to be better equipped to help them. Plus, it's a great read in looking at my own marriage. In his third chapter he has a section titled Actions of Love Lead to Feelings of Love. The premise is right there in the title. He recounts what C.S. Lewis said in one of his many BBC broadcasts during World War Two. For many of his countrymen, acts of love toward an enemy was anathema, that is, unthinkable. He said "The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he 'likes' them: The Christian, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on - including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning." But he went on to state that this principle "works terribly in the opposite direction. The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become - and so on in a vicious circle forever."
Keller found that as a young pastor, he felt his job required him to spend time helping people he might ordinarily have not been attracted to. Maybe even especially that he wouldn't have gravitated toward. Frequent acts of kinds towards someone and time spent helping them turned into a friendship. "Why did that happen? Was it because I was so holy and spiritual? No, not in the slightest. It was because I'd stumbled on to the practical principle that Lewis named."
Now, the book is about marriage, but I find a thread here that resonates in me this week. With all of the protests happening this week I find my thoughts turning to racism in our country and around the world. I've seen some awesome videos and articles about how to fight and defeat racism. It's something we can start doing individually. It's true that we humans often fear what we don't know or find foreign: countries, cultures, and people. And fear can lead us into the vicious circle that Lewis describes. Yet there is a simple solution. Begin spending time with people, doing acts of kindness with and for people that you find different from you. Even if, or perhaps especially if, you don't really feel like it. You'll eventually find out they're just people. Maybe you'll have found a friend. But more importantly, you'll be changing your tendency to feel fear of others to feeling love of others.
In case you were wondering, this is not my default behavior. I don't think I'm predjudiced, but neither have I gone out of my way to help someone I don't know or who is "different" than me. This needs to change in my life. Being neutral is not making a change. Being actively kind to others will lead to me being a kinder person. That's what God expects of me and following His precepts will make me a better human being. And isn't that a worthwhile goal?