Thursday, April 05, 2007

Well, I don't think there is any question about it. It can only be attributable to human error.

It was a beautiful day, so I took my three oldest to the park (Victoria was in the bag). They were playing good for the most part as I read my book on racial diversity in church (a topic near and dear to my heart, as has been seen here). It was a gift from the author and local pastor, Tony Mathews.

I noticed some harsh words going back and forth between my girls and two other girls about the sames ages, but from different ethnic backgrounds.

There was debate over the swings, which my girls apparently got on when the others were away. They now wanted them back.

Remember these discussions?
"You don't own the playground."
"We had them first."
"You left."

Sometimes I think I should have been a sociologist as I was really enjoying observing the happenings. I watched the melee, being reminded of Proverbs 15:1 as the emotions and facial expressions escalated, including clenched fists and "Grrr." Finally, I heard, "We're telling" and they came to see me to arbitrate.

I actually thought it was a good thing for them to learn about the "Law of the Playground" (aka "The Law of the Jungle") and talked with them a bit, but did not intervene.

Sarah wanted to let it go and let everyone play on opposite ends of the playground, but Rachel couldn't let it go. I watched as she repeatedly went to instigate trouble, particularly as there was a swing that Rachel would run toward and they would get their first so she couldn't swing on it. They didn't want it, but since they were not on good terms with Rachel, they certainly didn't want her to have it.

Sarah kept shouting, "Rachel, stop picking fights!"

I found myself seeing a great deal of Young Gun in Rachel. I can't recall how many fights I got in on the playground as I wouldn't be denied or couldn't leave a situation diffused.

Fortunately, I didn't have to intervene and it didn't ever get physical. So, she's better at this than I was, it appears.

I found it particularly interesting that this was all going on during the part of the book dealing with determining whether or not a conflict is people-related or race-related. I am pretty confident that this was not a race, problem with a human problem, depravity coming to the surface.

My kids are blessed to have had great friendships with kids of different racial backgrounds (e.g., Lydia) and this episode didn't seem to "jade" them in any way.

(Incidentally, I can still remember my first significant cross-racial friendship, it was with Donald Tolbert in El Paso in junior high. He and I got to be good friends on school baseball team, as nobody else had any love for "the gringo" and/or "the black kid.")

Oddly enough and providentially so, we heard Depeche Mode's "People Are People" on the radio on the way home.
So were different colours
And were different creeds
And different people
Have different needs
Its obvious you hate me
Though Ive done nothing wrong
Ive never even met you
So what could I have done
I cant understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
Help me understand
Help me understand
I can help. It's called human depravity. It's hard enough to get along with people like us, but much more so those who differ. As Pastor Mathews wrote, "the primary speed bump in the road leading to multicultural, multiracial ministry is people."

In fact, I don't think there is any question about it. It can only be attributable to human error.

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