By Abe Villarreal
I posted a video on my Facebook account last week of pre-school aged kids telling me when they believed Baby Jesus was born.
One kid said “Ummm…. Friday?” Another thought Jesus was born on the Fourth of July. I was captivated by their innocence.
We were in Sunday School class where the toughest theology lesson is learning how many of each animal made it into Noah’s Ark. We read a short Bible story, go outside and play, and sometimes get creative with glue and construction paper.
The kids come in without any prejudices. They don’t care about someone’s background, race, religion, or political viewpoints. They accept each other for what they see at first glance. And it’s not often they see something they don’t like.
Why can’t we be like kids? Often we see others and within a literal second, make assumptions based on age, choice of clothing, use of language, and yes, skin color.
We like to believe that we live in a society where we are all equal. We judge each other based on the content of character, not the color of skin. I wish it were true.
After all, we are humans. Maybe, we can’t help it. I once saw a white-haired lady on TV. She is well-known for teaching about racism to school kids and adults, all across the country. She was being interviewed and was asked about racism at its core.
Are we born racists? The answer was no. She said that we are taught to be racists. If that’s true, that means that we can erase racism by changing what we teach each other. It isn’t easy to unlearn something that we have practiced for generations.
Humans are stubborn animals. Just like mules, we don’t like to change our minds. We think it means we were wrong about something. How arrogant of a species are we, if we are to assume that we are always correct?
The truth is, we are wrong about most things. Kids love learning new things. They ask questions, and then they ask why the answer is the one you gave them. They want to know everything, and they find revelations amusing.
When they see someone that looks different to them, they only see what is the same to them. The two eyes, mouth, ears, and nose of a person are what they notice that makes them comfortable and approachable. If others have what he or she has, they must be just like them.
We see darker skin, scars, and too much weight. We see years of struggles, crooked teeth, and layers of anxiousness. We read people and try to interpret their motivations, all in just moments of knowing them.
We are suspect of others, rather than accepting. We are out to protect ourselves because we believe people are out to get us.
When kids see each other, they smile, share their names and tell their ages. They are proud but are also trying to find something in common.
At some point in our lives, we lose our innocence. Maybe it’s the first time we get hurt. Why can’t we be like kids again?