Can All Races Live Together as Brothers?
“IMPOSSIBLE,” you say? If that is your reaction, your opinion is certainly shared by many people. And a hard look at those parts of the world where peoples of different races are brought into close proximity finds plenty of evidence to suggest that the possibility of all races living together as brothers seems remote, to say the least.
Countries that are committed publicly to a policy of racial integration are finding the going rough. The government of the United States finds itself with racial crises on its hands. It faces mounting pressure from extremists on both sides. On one hand, there is the clamor from an increasing section of the white population insisting that integration and advancement of the Negro is moving too fast. On the other hand, the militant voices of “black power” claim that progress is too slow. Some even go so far as to advocate guerrilla warfare in an effort to pressure the government into meeting their demands. In many cities the racial situation is tinder-dry, needing but a spark to touch off renewed racial violence.
Britain, where not so long ago racial strife was little heard of, now faces mounting problems in this area of human relations. Industrial cities in recent years have had an influx of immigrants from the West Indies and India. The question as to peoples of different races living together in peace as brothers has been forced upon the inhabitants of those cities, and the record does not supply a particularly encouraging answer. Due to mounting racial problems Britain has been forced to make controversial decisions affecting immigration of nonwhites.
Political commentators in the Republic of South Africa are not slow to draw attention to the racial turmoil boiling up in other countries. In this they feel they find some justification for the South African policy of apartheid, an Afrikaans word literally meaning “separateness.” However, in the minds of South Africa’s critics, apartheid represents the last word in racial intolerance and injustice. They argue that apartheid is degrading and is but an expression of selfish racialism to protect the interests of the white man in that part of Africa.
South Africans hotly deny this. In efforts to justify their government’s policy, political commentators make much use of the expression “separate development” as a synonym for apartheid. The policy, they argue, is not just to separate people by race, but, rather, to provide opportunities for each race to develop according to its own culture, abilities and social habits.
In support of this view these political commentators point to the government-sponsored “Bantustans” or “homelands” for the African people of various tribes. In these they can enjoy a large measure of internal self-government and develop almost as a state within a state. Efforts have been made to encourage white industrialists to establish factories on the borders of the “Bantustans” (called “border industries”). This would provide opportunity for employment in those areas that are mostly underdeveloped from the industrial viewpoint.
However, whatever its merits or demerits, the policy of “separate development” is seen by many persons as indicating that under present conditions it is not possible for all races to live together as brothers.
Government leaders in South Africa have, on a number of occasions, called on their people to develop good race relations, specifically calling on the European or white population to treat those of another skin color with dignity. Yet the question remains as to what effect such request has on the mental attitude of the majority of those persons.
Opponents of South Africa view any justification of the policy of apartheid or “separate development” as ‘tongue-in-cheek hypocrisy,’ and repeatedly call in question the sincerity of the policy. South Africans, on the other hand, retaliate very much in kind with similar charges against those Western nations who criticize South Africa’s racial policies but who have in their own backyard, as it were, plenty of evidence of racial prejudice and discrimination.
CAUSES OF RACIAL PREJUDICE
The fact is that racial prejudice and discrimination are products of man’s inherent imperfection and selfishness. No government of man, whatever its policy, can legislate a change in men’s thinking on such matters.
What really produces racial prejudice? What factors contribute to the apparently insurmountable problem of different races living together as brothers?
Races differ in many ways in addition to skin color. That goes without saying. Different social customs, habits and manners mark the races. But these need not be a cause for friction and discrimination. There are people who have bad customs, bad manners, bad habits in every race, be they white, brown, black or yellow. But should that prejudice us against people of another race in toto? Doing so is often but an excuse to justify some more deep-seated reason for one’s attitude.
Without doubt, one of the principal factors affecting racial or class prejudice is the economic one. In this regard some of the factors contributing to racial prejudice are similar to those that have produced class distinctions between persons of the same race. People who have are not, for the most part, anxious to share with the have nots. “Why should we be?” they may ask. “Our people (our race, our class) have worked for what we have; we have a right to it.” This line of argument is commonly heard in defense of racial or class superiority.
Strong racial prejudices are often to be found in those areas where the group occupying the more favored position economically is a minority group racially. Also, it exists where the standard of living of a section of the community is threatened by the moving into the area of people of another race. They may also feel that these new ones will compete for their jobs at lower wages. Whether their fears are justified or not is another matter; the fact is that their fear of economic loss, their fear that the “standards” of the community will suffer, are powerful factors in producing racial tension. So, there are a number of factors involved in causing racial prejudice.
YOUR ATTITUDE IS IMPORTANT
When you first read the title of this article, “Can All Races Live Together as Brothers?” how did you react? Do not shrug the matter off as unimportant, especially if you claim to be a dedicated Christian. Your attitude toward persons of other races is important. In fact, it can affect your hope of receiving God’s blessing and gaining everlasting life. That important? Most assuredly!
You may live in a country where the policy of government limits the areas of contact between the races and where one’s willingness to accept a person of another skin color as a brother in a real sense is barely tested. Do you, then, conveniently dismiss the problem as having been nicely taken care of by the laws of the land? What, in fact, is your view of persons of another race? If you claim to be a Christian and a practicer of Bible principles, can you view those of another race, a so-called “inferior” race, as actually “superior” to you, as admonished by the apostle Paul? (Phil. 2:3) No, not in the sense of physical or mental accomplishment, but as persons, as to their standing before God. Can you, as opportunity affords, deal with such ones with the dignity and Christian love that the Bible calls for?
This does not require us to break Caesar’s laws or to fight against them, whatever we may feel as to their rightness. Christians are required to “pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar.” (Mark 12:17) But this does not call for them to adopt the same negative attitude toward persons of another race as demonstrated by their neighbors or associates in secular employment—not if such attitude is opposed to Bible principles.
Some individuals whose perspective has been distorted by racial prejudice will go so far as to deny to people of other races the most basic of human qualities. But people of all races are capable of the same human qualities, the same human feelings—to have a sense of parenthood, love of children, concern for the welfare of others, to love what is good and hate what is bad.
No matter how primitive the environment, no matter how limited the education, people of all races can and are becoming dedicated Christians and turning away from the bad course of this old system of things. God’s spirit is acting upon many individuals of all races today, causing them to produce in their lives the fruitage of his holy spirit. (Gal. 5:22, 23) A true Christian could never deny God’s ability to do that.
Do you allow yourself to rationalize your attitude toward persons of another race by dwelling on certain of their weaknesses, due no doubt to lack of education or opportunity or because of environmental factors? Or, do you, in Christian love, make allowances for such disadvantages, not looking at such ones according to what they are in the flesh, but according to the viewpoint of God, who is not partial “a toward people of any race or color? (Acts 10:34, 35) Searching questions, yes! The way you answer them can vitally affect your life.
LIVING TOGETHER AS BROTHERS NOW!
Even now it is being demonstrated by the Christian society of Jehovah’s witnesses that people of all races can live together as brothers. How so? If you have ever attended a large international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses you have seen this in a striking way as people of all races, white, brown, yellow and black, associate together without discrimination of any kind in upbuilding Christian fellowship.
Even where human laws do not allow, for such free association, as in South Africa, Jehovah’s witnesses feel just as close an affinity for their Christian brothers and express this as opportunity affords. While, for instance, it is not possible in that country for different races to have large assemblies together, pre-assembly organization provides many opportunities for mutual cooperation and assistance, which are gladly seized on. This is not just an expression of “tolerance,” but of genuine Christian love.
Certainly in God’s new order under the long-promised kingdom of His dear Son, Jesus Christ, there will be no racial prejudice. Then, most definitely, all races will live together as brothers. No, not all people of all races, for not every person will receive the blessing of God and find life in that new order. But “all those calling upon him,” irrespective of race, will be heard by God, “for there is no distinction” with him.—Rom. 10:12.
Even at this time in these closing “last days” of this present system of things “a great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” are manifesting themselves as true worshipers of the Most High God, Jehovah.—2 Tim. 3:1-5; Rev. 7:9.
If such worshipers of Jehovah hope to live together as brothers in God’s new order, should they not be doing so now as far as present governmental laws permit? Let your faith in God’s promise to have all races live together as brothers be reflected in the way you treat persons of other races now, especially those who are dedicated Christians.
[Picture on page 261]
People of all races are living together as brothers now in the Christian society of Jehovah’s witnesses