If you want to hear a passionate discussion, throw this one out into the conversation at your next social gathering.
YES! says one, NO! says the other.
I recently found myself in the midst of such a discussion on Australia day. Alarmed at how vehement the participants of the debate were holding to their view. It’s a polarising debate because it’s a polarising question. There’s no middle ground. I was even more amazed when my contribution of “well it all depends on which flavour of pizza you’re having, for example; I’d have it with ham but not with beef,” was met with a dismissive nonchalance. In other words; it seems you’re only allowed into this conversation if you have an extreme view.
Debates bring out the worst in us because they are by nature polarising. Moreover, the social media space pours even more oil on the fire as we never have to look our ‘opponent’ in the eye.
When we speak with more ferocity the more inconsistent our words become. This has been a major struggle for me in the past and I’m working hard to not open my mouth in conversations lest I’ve engaged the brain first.
I mentioned that this pineapple debate was on Australia Day. If your reading this in a different nation, let me explain that we are a nation that looks as if it ‘has it made on a silver platter’ yet under the surface there are deep, deep cultural wounds.
And they bleed the worst on Australia day.
The first people of this land, the Aboriginal people have been treated horrifically by white European settlers. But that is not the worst part. Most of the injustices, and particularly the extent of these injustices have seemingly been covered up for decades, even centuries. This has particularly shocked me the more I have become aware of it. It has gotten to the stage where every year the debate rages around this date and if it should be changed.
Meanwhile, if you’re a gen ‘Y’ white Australian, you’re most probably thinking “why should I be responsible for the sins of generation that I was not a part of?” “Ok, I get that stuff happened, but why am I being made to feel responsible for it?”
The great tragedy for out nation is that it is at an impossible impasse. In fact, I have no doubt that even this article will not be ‘extreme enough’ on either side for many people. But to those occupying the extremes, I offer you a word of ‘prophecy’: you will not win thru your volume. In fact the debate will never be resolved, it is only doomed to get more and more toxic because of One. Simple. Reason.
The one thing the entirety of Australian society has completely walked away from.
Any and all reconciliation is based on the foundation of forgiveness. Forgiveness is based on the foundation of grace. Oh, and grace…..is based upon the foundation that there really is a God to whom we will all give an account. No matter what your skin colour or heritage is.
Call that view dumb and antiquated as much as you like, but get used to the endless debate.
Except that it isn’t endless.
In Matthew 6, the disciples ask Jesus just about the most important question you can ask: “Tell us how to pray.” It’s important because you’re really underneath asking: ‘Tell us how to live,” as your prayer life (or lack thereof) will always bubble over into real life and your responses.
Jesus responds with the now famous: ‘Lord’s prayer’ within which he says these words in verse 12: “…and forgive our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
This prayer assumes some enormous (and quite controversial) things. Firstly that even if we are genuinely a victim in a circumstance; we’re not completely sinless. Second that the perpetrator is not outside God’s love and therefore our forgiveness. It takes our eyes off the opponent and fastens them onto God.
But even more importantly, the fact that everyone needs forgiveness presupposes a righteous God who will judge and punish evil. (Just in case we may falsely assume that God is on the ‘side of’ the perpetrator over the victim.) This prayer is frozen into sharper relief by the promise of Jesus that he is indeed coming back to judge all generations.
Told you it wasn’t quite endless.
While we endlessly debate around a certain date (Jan 26th), the general thrust of scripture essentially says “your ignorance of God fabricates the assumption that you’ll get another Jan 26. But the reality is (please hear this) you may only have……today.”
What are we doing…..Today?
Because today is all we may have.
But we spend it still seething in an unresolved racial debate.
Nothing budges without the repentance and forgiveness of each other. Without repentance and forgiveness, one generation never heals from its wounds and the other can never move past its ball-and-chain of collective guilt. But the answer is sitting there in the words of Jesus.
To zoom back out a little; imagine how different all our relationships would look, if sensed that we only had one more day with the people around us?
We can get tied up in fighting each other, or simply choose the different option.
Anyway; I’m off to have a ham, cheese and pineapple……toastie.