A unifying phrase emerged early during the COVID-19 pandemic. For two months now we have seen these words many times: “We are all in this together.”

The word “we” includes all human beings; for the entire world is in the grip of the deadly coronavirus. The phrase implies that since we are all in the same boat we had better learn how to row together.

Another phrase that caught my attention was this: “We are all on the same team.” In this fight to overcome the virus, we need to think of ourselves as brothers and sisters, not as whites or blacks or Hispanics or any other race or ethnicity.

The murder of George Floyd has given new meaning to these phrases. The nationwide protests against racism involve us all, for the sin of racism is a worldwide problem.

If there was ever a time when we all need to work together to eradicate racism, it is now. This is a time for us to be fellow Americans, regardless of race or faith or political alliance. We are all in this together.

Hearts changedIn recent days, many statements have been written and shared. While opinions can be helpful, rhetoric will not remove racism. Repentance and forgiveness are needed. Hearts changed by the grace of God are needed. Silence must be replaced with a demand for justice for all.

The “power brokers” in business, the government and the church must lead the way for change — or get out of the way. Those who continue to stand in the middle of the road are likely to get run over. Change is coming! It must come! Without significant change, the future of our nation is in peril.

But what I am writing is, after all, just more rhetoric. So in my remaining space I want to offer practical suggestions as to how ordinary citizens can facilitate the eradication of racism. My list is not exhaustive; allow it to stimulate your own list of things you can do to help remove racism from our society.

One, examine your heart. Ask God to show you the truth about how you think and relate to persons of another color. If there is any racism in your heart, ask God to forgive you and change your heart so you can begin loving people regardless of their skin color.

Two, resolve to judge others on the basis of their character, not their skin color. Base your opinions of others on their deeds, not their race.

Three, be done with inflammatory language that demeans people of color. Show respect for the value, dignity and worth of every person. Speak about others as you would have them speak about you.

Four, love your neighbors. Because of the coronavirus, we can show love for our neighbors by wearing a mask. But go beyond that; find other simple ways to express love for your neighbors.

Initiate conversations with neighbors and friends about our need to treat all people fairly and put an end to injustice and racial discrimination. We have ignored the subject for generations, far too long.

Five, pray daily that God will heal our land of the sin of racism. Pray that our leaders will move forward with specific plans to eradicate racism from our society. Pray for our pastors to provide the spiritual leadership needed for this crucial hour in America. Pray for the men and women serving in law enforcement. Most of our police officers, troopers, sheriffs and others are good people who deserve our support. Though the “bad apples” must no longer be tolerated, we need to recognize and applaud those who are fair to all people, regardless of their race.

Six, talk to your children (and grandchildren) about racism. Listen to your children. Listen patiently to their opinions; invite them to share their experiences.

Every person, young and old, has something to bring to the table. Pray with your family, asking God to reveal ways each of us can make a difference.

Seven, resolve to stop being silent about racist practices. When you see people being mistreated because of their skin color, speak up.

Write or call your representatives in the state legislature and Congress and urge them to support changes in laws and policies that will help eradicate racism in our society. Make your voice heard.

Eight, in your daily routine look for simple ways to practice civility in every situation. Be polite to people, even strangers.

Since love can overcome hatred, practice acts of kindness toward others, especially people of another race. Kindness has the power to defeat incivility.

Nine, make an effort to build bridges of friendship with persons of another race. This may give you the opportunity to listen to the heartbeat of someone who endures daily the cruelty of discrimination.

The “haves” can help build a better world by truly listening to the “have nots.”

Ten, donate money, food or clothing to an agency that is helping the poor. For example, the Mercy House at 2412 Council Street in Montgomery. The number is 334-676-3040. (Don’t ask them to come after your gift; go over there and become friends with the good folks who run the place.)

If you are able, make a significant financial gift on a regular basis to a ministry like Mercy House.

Eleven, volunteer a few hours of your time to serve in a local ministry by sweeping floors, washing dishes or serving food. Go beyond words and smiles; do something that makes you look like a caring human being.

Some of us need to get out of our gated communities and get our hands dirty helping the poor.

Twelve, recommend Jesus to others. He alone can change our hearts. Faith in Jesus cannot co-exist with racism. I repeat — Faith in Jesus cannot co-exist with racism!

The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Jesus shed his blood on that cross so that our sins could be forgiven and so we could live in the Kingdom as brothers and sisters.

Though Satan is using racism to divide and destroy our nation, we need not yield to his demonic forces that hold us in bondage. We can turn to God and find the strength to recognize evil among us and neutralize it with justice, love and peace.

Our survival is doubtful if we continue to tolerate racism. It can be overcome, however, when enough of us decide to eradicate systemic racism and build a system that provides justice and equality for all people.

Since we are all in this together, folks, let’s get to work building a just society. Doing so will honor God and prepare a better world for our descendants.

Walter Albritton is a Methodist minister and writes a weekly column for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him at walteralbritton7@gmail.com.

Walter Albritton is a Methodist minister and writes a weekly column for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him at walteralbritton7@gmail.com.

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