“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

One of the lessons (credit the “teachable moment”) I have learnt from the Gates, Crowley and Obama affair is that our society has a disdain for peacemakers. They are more often than not ridiculed, called “soft”, if a male… characterized as a part of a female’s anatomy, have the sincerity of their motives questioned and even referred to as a “traitor” to some group or cause.

Those of you who frequent this blog know that I am no worshipper, nor mesmerized supporter of Barack Obama. Throughout this whole affair, he made the stupidest comment of all involved, which further inflamed a situation, which in reality was a “WWF pay per-view style” clash of egos, that was manipulated into a racial issue. However I will “give credit where credit is due.” Although Obama did not actually retract and apologize for his comment, he moved the whole situation forward to a sit down between the opposing parties for a beer and a chat in an effort to foster understanding and end the conflict. For this effort I commend President Obama… as well as Professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5: 23-24.

We are all human and make mistakes and say and do things which we later regret. However few of us, especially in today’s society, will swallow our pride, or set aside our conviction that we are indeed unequivocally “right” and the other party is definitely “wrong”, or look beyond our own selfish agenda, and simply do whatever it takes to make peace. Ashamedly more often than not, I behave like the majority. What I find most instructive in regards to the above words of Christ, is that if someone has something against you, regardless of whether you are “right” or “wrong”, you need to reconcile with that person before you give tribute to God. Hard to do… even if you are “wrong”, especially if you are “right”.

On Thursday as I watched various news coverages of the so-called “Beer Summit”, I noticed how the reporters (and commentators) were trivializing, not so much the event, but primarily the efforts the event was attempting to achieve! I also read numerous news articles and blogs with similar sentiments, some going so far as calling Professor Gates and President Obama “traitors to the race!”

Our society feeds on controversy. The media, including bloggers, are forever seeking to exploit the next controversy to increase the readership to their forums, to demonstrate their intelligence and insightfulness… and for some an increase in financial gains. There is no controversy, no financial gain, no increase in readership, no “look how smart and insightful I am”, when it involves peacemaking. 

In saying all this, let’s not get it twisted! This “Beer Summit” will do nothing to improve race relations in America. The whole affair was about a clash of two egos, about two men who behaved badly because they felt entitled due to their position in society, about two men who expected that they should have been afforded a certain amount of deference and respect from the other. There will still be racial profiling by the police, as well as unfair and unequal treatment of Black men by the criminal justice system. Some Black people will still use the “race card” when arrested in an effort to shift the focus from their bad and/or criminal behaviour unto the actions of the police, which ultimatety undermines those who have legitimate claims of police abuse.

Sure this event has started another national conversation about “race and race relations”… until later today or tomorrow, when it will be time to exploit the next controversy.  

From theROOT: “An Accident of  Time and Place” by Professor Gates.