When we were younger my sister loved West Side Story. I got bored. She loved it so much she bought the record. I didn’t like it. Yet this morning as I went to write this entry West Side Story came to mind. Friends have filled my emails with all the latest Arizona happenings, news clippings and video clips concerning the problems around us. I kept thinking of West Side Story. My sister did a good job of imbedding that story into my memory.
Today I listened to it again. Take a moment to listen to the words for yourself. 1961 West Side Story, America.
I remember walking down the street in Chicago, a group of white teenagers saw a black teenager walking down the street. The white boys were playing ball at Quigley High. They jumped the fence, they chased the black boy with baseball bats. I yelled out to one of the merchants to call the police. The merchant locked the door, pulled down the shade and put the closed sign in the window. Before the bat swinging boys could catch up a postal carrier came driving by. The driver slowed down, grabbed the young black boys arm and dragged him into the postal truck. The driver then sped off. All there was left was a group of angry teens standing face to face with me. I knew each one of the boys. They came to some of the youth programs we had started at the church. They said they weren’t going to hurt him just scare him. After all he needed to know his place.
Another time I was driving down 79th Street getting off the Dan Ryan freeway headed toward Western Avenue. As I was driving some people saw me and started shouting obscenities at me. I was obviously not wanted. As I kept driving one man called me “whitey” and told me to get the f… out of their neighborhood. Then out of no where a car started driving straight toward me. I turned my car up onto the sidewalk, sped into the wrong lane and never looked back. Later I visited with a black pastor in the area. I told him what had happened. He said, very clearly, you didn’t belong. They just wanted to scare you.
Is it naive to believe the words of a childhood chorus? Jesus loves the little children, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world. Does the message change because children grow up? Is it then okay to hate adults? Does the message change because adults start using brands or cliques to identify themselves? Socially, politically, culturally, economically, are these labels now the identifiers that legitimize who is “in” and who is “out”? If not, what then becomes the identifier that gives permission to change the childhood ethic?
At Coached by Grace, at Making Today Count there is a common starting point. Coached by Grace recognizes that all people were, are created in the image of God. That simply identifies both our sense of being and our sense of call. God by nature is the creator, hence people reflect God as we create. What God created became good. We then are called to be creators of the good. Coached by Grace acknowledges the integrity of all people. There is no division. There are no dividing lines. Are you human? Then you have reached the starting point and behavior is an outgrowth of integrity. Integrity acknowledges value and worth which then gives freedom to intentionally seek good. There is a common ground.
May God bless you as you seek this common ground, may God bless you as you become the creator of common good.