I grew up in a small Texas town with almost no people of color. But despite that racially homogenous environment, I always despised racism in all of its forms. I don’t remember my parents talking to me about race, But I do remember how they treated people and the way they spoke of others.

My dad had a good friend named Raymond, who worked for him. He was an African-American, and he was always really cool to me. His kids were mostly older than me, but they were always really nice to me too. I recognized a difference in skin color and culture, but I figured they are people just like me. That is a true statement, but this truth is more profound than people just being people. I will address that later.

There was another black man I remember encountering when I was young. He was pretty famous (at least for us kids) in my small town. His name was Chester, and he was famous because he had made a name for himself in a vocation that seemed only to draw people of my skin color.

Chester Stidham (left)

Chester was a black cowboy. He had the most amazing wild-west mustache you have ever seen. Everybody in my town seemed to like Chester, and even respect him. He would come into the local greasy spoon diner, and everyone would greet him, and he was friendly if not a little mysterious. And in this case, I think most people didn’t consider Chester to be like them. I think most thought of Chester as better because he was able to accomplish so much with the cards stacked against him.

The truth of the matter was that Chester, Raymond, and his family, my family, and every other person on the face of the planet, all have a spark that makes us unique. We have something that sets us all apart from the animal world.

We are made in the image of God. We bear his likeness. No matter what, that is an essential truth!

Unfortunately, over the last few years, our disregard for God and his creation has become more and more destructive. We have separated ourselves off by race, political party, ideology, or tribe. Everyone fights to further the agenda of their faction while stepping on those who are different from us in any way.

Things have gotten so bad of late that I’m not sure that there is a policy answer that will help us to find peace and live in harmony. No matter what one group does, they are demonized or marginalized by the other group. Hatred is in the air, feeding our sinful tendencies and creating destruction and debasement for everyone involved.

It pains me to see human life completely discarded as if it is of no value or worth. I do believe that a man’s actions have consequences, but a person with a criminal record is still an image-bearer of Christ. Their life is still valuable. God still loves them, and so should we. That knowledge and respect of life should inform how we treat them.

The world has become so polarized and hateful that I don’t know if things will get better or worse in the next ten years. I don’t have a policy solution, or a law that I think would put things back into order. But I do have some suggestions that I think would help future generations to learn from our mistakes.

Treat everyone as if they were made in God’s image. Like they are one of His children. Not only in your actions but in your speech.

Parents, spend more time treating people right and speaking words of affirmation and encouragement than discussing political perspectives and implying certain people had it coming. Your kids will pick up on your example, and they will likely follow suit.

Remember, These are spiritual issues that we are dealing with, not political ones. Therefore the answers are also spiritual.

CNN and Fox News will not give you answers, but if you open your Bible and obey the hard teachings of Christ, we might find a way out of this.

Be quick to listen and slow to anger.

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