Red and Yellow, Black and White

Red and Yellow, Black and White—Write Right

I still remember the words from a children’s song learned many, many years ago.

Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white,

They are precious in his sight.

Jesus loves the little children

Of the world.

I remember teaching the song, too, as a fifteen-year-old corralling a group of ten to twelve preschoolers. Perhaps simplistic words, but they contain truth. Jesus loves all the children, all the people, of the world. He loves them, regardless of skin tone or what they have or have not done. He loves them, and he wants me to love them, too.

I wish all the world lived by such an ethic, but not all of it does. The events in Charlottesville last week show a world divided, torn, and hurting. They reveal a darkness that makes me flinch. I wonder at how hate can fill hearts and turn into poisonous words and actions.

I know I’m not any better. Hate and anger storm my heart, too. I may not rain down racial slurs, but I can hesitate to talk with someone who doesn’t look like me. I could excuse the hesitation on shyness or introversion. Such “reasons” hold little justification. I find them paltry and altogether flimsy. Jesus calls me to be loving and kind, no matter how uncomfortable I feel or how much of a headache I have.

In addition, I recognize how much poorer life would be without other races. The colors, the hairstyles, the languages, the cultures…the world would dim, be leached of color without them. Beauty would become a lesser thing.

Perhaps that’s more where my heart lies when it comes to all the people of the world. I see the beauty in their faces and hear and see it in their words. I can’t imagine a world without their input, maybe because I spend an inordinate amount of time with international authors and artists.

Rumi and Hafiz, poets long dead, come to mind. Their poetry shows me what true worship looks like. When I read David and Paul in the Bible, I can’t help but hear the echo of Rumi. These four men are ecstatic in their worship and love of God. They want the whole world to know of him.

Other writers: N.K. Jemisin, Miklos Radnoti, Haruki Murakami, Pablo Neruda, Ernest J. Gaines, Maya Angelou, Natasha Trethewey. These novelists, essayists, and poets enrich the world. They give new glimpses into it and cause me to ponder humanity and the earth anew.

Writing, however, isn’t the only place where I find myself turning to other cultures and races. Dance becomes more beautiful, too, with diversity. I know this on a personal level; I recall going to salsa classes and being welcomed into a community comprised mainly of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. They accepted me for who I was, even if I were a white girl with little natural dancing ability.

I also recognize it on a broader scale. This season’s So You Think You Can Dance features dancers from Korea, Guam, India, and Russia. The choreographers might be from the United States, but they often come from other countries, including Canada. The music used comes from all over the world. On Monday night, Koine, a girl with a Japanese heritage, and Marko, from Guam, danced an African jazz routine choreographed by Canadians. The diversity enriches the dancing, and the dancing enriches, and maybe even changes, the audience.

Could art be a thing that helps bring people together? I don’t know, but I hope so. I even think so because something happens when people create: they forget themselves. They lose themselves in the act of creation, and something more beautiful, more wondrous, than they could ever have imagined results.

I think something similar will happen — albeit on a much more glorious scale — when Jesus returns. We will lose ourselves in him, and it will be bright and beautiful. Until then, perhaps art can help us reach toward that future of unity, love, and light. Maybe it can help us heal from events like Charlottesville and build a world where we love, respect, and appreciate one another because Jesus loves all of us—you, me, and all the races and tongues of the world.

Image: s_mcdeid (Creative Commons)