Oklahoma has the largest population of Native Americans in this country. Bev and I were born there. I spent formative years in Oklahoma. At one time my very best friend was an Osage. As a small boy my family lived next door to Yvonne Lyons who was known in the Choctaw nation as Princess Pale Moon. She was beautiful. Her photograph appeared on post cards. Beverly’s youngest sister married a full blooded Seminole. In school we learned about the five “civilized” Indian nations: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole and Creek.
What we learned “on the street” was that there was a fierce rivalry among some of the tribes. Here were people who looked a lot alike, who lived in much the same way, but who couldn’t stand each other and throughout history had fought one another.
Jingoism and racism seem to exist among people all over the earth. In from the time of Martin Luther in the 16th century until recently “tribes” of Christians fought with one another: Catholics against the Orthodox and Protestants.
Today, in the Muslim world there are places where Sunni and Shia Muslims hate one another and fight one another.
Our kind of Christianity in United Church of Christ promotes the “brotherhood of man.” We believe that all people are God’s children, and that it is our duty to care for one another, practicing racial justice and promoting peace through the whole world. This is a huge challenge. For so many of us have been taught on the school ground that we are better than colored people, or poor people, or those whose grammar is not good.
In the great Broadway Musical South Pacific there are several memorable songs. Here are the lyrics of one of them:
You’ve got to be taught to hate;
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught year to year
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to hate,
To be afraid of people
Whose eyes are oddly made,
And whose skin is a different shade:
You’ve got to be taught to hate.
Today is a good day to bury hate!