Being afraid of people different than us
In Post-World War II America the musical "South Pacific" opened on Broadway. While it would be financially successful, it was controversial. The Rodgers and Hammerstein production was almost shut down before the opening night because of the less than subtle messages of antiracism. In the musical Lt. Cable falls in love with a native Tonkinese woman. He sang the signature song: “You’ve got to be carefully taught (to hate and to fear).”
Then and still today some people want to claim that being afraid of people different from them, including the color of their skin, economic status or other outward characteristics, is something that is natural to all white human beings. They claim superiority. They have been teaching their children this damaging belief and have passed this on from one generation to another. Harold Kusher wrote that the Christianity to which such people claim as their salvation, centers on whom they are required to love, not on whom they are entitled to hate.
A few years after the opening of "South Pacific," Congress established as our national motto, “In God We Trust.” As I thought about it, I remembered the many times Jesus asked the disciples to trust Him.
The Galilean fisherman had been fishing all night and had not caught any fish. Jesus told them to try again. They could have said no and with good reason. Instead they launched their boats, and they caught so many fish that the boat almost sank. Trust in God can be like that.
The Gallup Polling organization for years has been asking people questions about trust. I googled “Gallup who do Americans trust” and received historical and current results. In 2017, 72 percent of those polled said they trusted the Military, up from 60 percent in 1997. In 2017 the police were trusted by 57 percent, down from 59 percent in 1997. Religious institutions fell to 41 percent in 2017 from 56 percent in 1997. If you use the same data and reverse the question to “Who do you NOT trust?" the results are staggering. The numbers for religious institutions would be 59 percent don’t trust religious institutions in 2017.
Into the vacuum of trust has emerged once again institutions of fear and violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center claims that there has been an 800 percent increase in organized supremacy groups during the last decade.
Not only is our national motto, “In God We Trust,” we also have a Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States.
Americans do not also pledge their allegiance to the flag of Nazi Germany or to the Confederate States of America. Yet, these hate groups today want to be protected by our constitution and frequently talk about their freedom of speech and their right to assemble and their right to vote in American elections.
It is our moral imperative to be clear about our identity as Americans that proudly claims, “In God We Trust.” It is our moral imperative to take our citizenship seriously and not just give it away to those that are causing harm.