The territory of northern Oklahoma had been established for the resettlement of Native Americans that had been subjected to a forced march along the Trail of Tears from the southeastern United States. Once admitted as a state in 1907, the newly created state legislature passed racial segregation laws as its first order of business. In 1916, Tulsa passed an ordinance that mandated residential segregation by forbidding Black or White people from residing on any block where three-fourths or more of the residents were members of the other race.
On May 31st and June 1st in 1921, mobs of White residents attacked African American residents and their businesses within the Greenwood District. Widely considered the worst incident of racial violence in American history, the attack destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the wealthy district known as “Black Wall Street”. The Tulsa-Greenwood race massacre claimed the lives of somewhere between 75 and 300 black Americans, hospitalized over 800, interned 6,000, and left about 10,000 homeless.
In the mid 1950s a variety of civil rights demonstrations made the news, Rosa Parks had refused to surrender her seat on a Montgomery Alabama bus so that a white passenger could sit down. By the early 60s, the racial atmosphere in the USA was still highly charged although that decade would see the passage of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Voting Rights Act of 1965, The Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965, and The Fair Housing Act of 1968.
It was in this context that I, at the ripe old age of eleven and while firmly in possession of all the wisdom that implies, submitted the results of my sixth grade science experiment. I had injected permanent dyes into the eggs of several chickens that were just days away from hatching. When the colorful chicks finally emerged, there were blue ones and yellow ones and pink ones, and orange and purple ones. The birds began to huddle and, after a few hours had elapsed, they segregated themselves into distinct groups according to the color of their fur.
And so it was, with great pride that I showed off the chicks to my class while handing the paper, which described the methodology and the results of the “scientific finding,” to my teacher. To say that my teacher was displeased would be a gross understatement. And she never gave me the reasons for her somewhat muted reaction to my work.
In the decades since, I learned lessons of far greater importance than that concerning the arbitrariness of grading. First and foremost, to those who have offered, as some sort of justification for a variety of attitudes, the argument that segregation is only natural, I would respond by making it clear that, as conscientious beings, we should aspire to something higher.
We have all beheld the beauty of nature, but we have also witnessed its brutality. Randomized weather patterns, viscous animals, fiery volcanos, devastating earthquakes, and man’s inhumanity to man, all conspire to challenge us in ways that somehow foster spiritual growth. It may sometimes be hard to see the universe of universes as nurturing infrastructure, but that’s precisely what it is.
There is a reason the petals of a plant’s flower are a different color than its leaves. Some plants such as the sunflower, primrose, and pansy have what are, in effect, nectar guides that can only be seen in ultra-violet light. A pollinator, such as the honeybee, sees such a scintillating lure as a target yielding great sugary rewards. The process of extracting nectar also results in small particles being left behind that serve to fertilize the flower.
Once we’ve developed an appreciation for such beauty as well as our challenges, understanding that is commensurate with the intellectual, societal, and spiritual potential that Our Creator has given us, we can overcome the limitations of nature. As we work to ascend, from the purely animalistic plane of existence to an affinity for high spiritual values, we can leave behind all of the inherent and retrogressive animalistic tendencies.
Wars, including race wars are an animalistic reaction and symptomatic of a failure to adapt within a creation that is time-space conditioned. Our universe of things, meanings, and values unfolds as an inspiring example of creativity over time. All things, this side of Paradise, are characterized by progressive evolution and augmented by revelation. Irritations, ignorance, and willful misunderstandings are retardant factors while peace can only be realized through the civilized solution of all such problems and difficulties.
Jesus loved all of humanity, the animalistic and spiritual, rich and poor, high and low, black and white, educated and uneducated, cultured and uncultured, religious and irreligious, moral and immoral. He was not so much concerned with walls of brick and stone; but rather the walls of prejudice, self-righteousness, and hate. His desire was to see such walls crumble as he preached about the Father’s love for all of human kind. The Creator Son, as the Son of Man, proclaimed the salvation of God for all men and all women. When he gave us the command, to love one another as he loves us, he gave us the mission statement for his Church.
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