Recently there has been a big deal made about removing confederate statues. The main reason given for this is that it is supposed to promote racial peace and harmony. Since the statues are offensive to some people, if you remove the offense you get peace, right?
But is that really true? Well, no. And that is the problem with so much of the political activism we see these days – it is based on beliefs that are not true.
Personally, I have no investment in confederate statues – or any other kind for that matter. It is certainly important to understand the history they represent so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. By the same token, it is also important to not intentionally do things that offend people. But anyone who really thinks that removing statues from public places is going to promote racial peace and harmony has no understanding of what it actually takes to achieve that goal.
What is the real purpose of removing statues? Is it to promote racial peace and harmony? Of course not! It is a political power play. What happens any time someone acts offended and initiates unilateral actions that make other people upset? All that happens is that now you just have a different set of upset people. Removing statues might remove an offense for some, but it creates offense for others. And most of the time it is actually not because the statues got removed; it is because someone is trying to force their beliefs on someone else. And the end result of that? Well, it certainly isn’t greater harmony. In fact it actually creates greater division. You don’t solve attitude problems by unilaterally imposing a solution.
The trouble with attacking problems that way is that you get retaliation. “So, you take down my statue, and I’m gonna take down the symbols that are important to you.” That really helps, right?
But, what if the goal really was racial peace and harmony? What would you do to accomplish that? Well, the first thing that would have to happen is for everyone to understand what causes racial strife in the first place; it is a spiritual problem, not a material one. And how do you solve spiritual problems? Only with spiritual solutions. When you have problems of the heart, the only way you get change is by changing the heart.
But the heart change has to be based on beliefs that are actually helpful for accomplishing the goal. You have to believe that racial peace and harmony is more important than any kind of temporal goal. You have to believe that human relationships are more valuable than material symbols.
So, where do those kinds of values come from? They come from making relationships one’s highest priority. The first relationship must be a relationship with God – the one who is actually the source of those kinds of values. Then, because we want to please him, we come to desire peace and harmony with other people. Sorry, but it doesn’t happen any other way.
So, go ahead and pull down monuments. Then, when the other side pulls down your monuments, get mad. But don’t think that by participating in that process you are going to help bring about any kind of peace and harmony: You won’t. And when it doesn’t happen, don’t claim that your goal is racial peace and harmony; because it is not.