Pastor's Corner: Columbus Must Learn to Love, Learn, and Live Together


Columbus, Georgia has a long storied history that includes many years of hidden hatred that is all too often swept under the rug.

This is not just racial, skin color, gender-specific, and ethnic hatred, which has been around here for more than a century and is part and parcel of its history from the entire time it has existed, it also includes familial hatred within the scope of individuals, families, friends, and communities.

Once it hits the largesse of communities, it spills out into the under-girdle of the rest of the fabric and fiber of a city, boils over into its surrounding counties, and by the time it hits the state and the core values of the nation, it is running over in ruby red blood that all too often draws in the federal government and forces it to have to address matters that could have been handled effectively and efficiently before they ever got outside of home base.

When you've lived here and have experienced all levels of hatred from within and without, that is pretty deep. But, when you don't live here and come here only to experience a lack of progress that is so bad that the average person can only say "I thought I had gone back in time to the 1800s," that's even worse.

This is a community that grabs and holds to the "christianity" brand stamp as if that validates whatever they do or think as the 'sacred cow' of community, but the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. There are people who don't claim to be Christian who have set greater examples of love and harmonic peace amongst their fellow men.

A church on every corner is not true here. 

Columbus has no less than an average of three to five Christian or christian-influenced churches on a large part of many of its corners; and yet, the hatred, the hidden hatred, and the community failings within still live and remain, some know for a fact that it's getting even worse over time--and this is only be because of the lack of reconciliation of that which tore it apart.

No, hatred cannot be legislated. It is an emotion that everyone has a "god-given right" to feel.

However, everyone has to think carefully before they toss the word "christian" out there, because it can often come back salty and inflamed from the people who have experienced the worst of it and the ones who may never heal from that.

The word "christian" can come to life as a real principle of the activities of daily living instead of a superficial thing to say just to get attention, as it is flung out in vain when it doesn't match the actions that are needed to sustain it. We can, and we must, do better.

First and foremost, we must remember that there is more than one religion that believes in one God - Christians are not the only ones privy to that; and secondarily, the word love, the AGAPE form of love hat is spiritual and not sexual, comes in every language there is, not just in American English. 

That said, in order to form inclusive partnerships that are going to build OneColumbus and make it truly 'amazing,' we need to understand the following:

  1. Having good relationships inside of a household is one of the greatest foundations for happiness, health, wealth, well-being and satisfaction in life, whatever that household consists of. As a hater, we don't think we need one another in order to subsist. We can be that 'sounding brass and clanging symbol' of love without having to actually do it. All these hundreds of years later, what remains is putting faith on notice that it is about to be filled to the brim instead of it just used as an empty vessel word that wears the bright robe or the colorful cloak, but does not take on the true responsibility that comes with it. Federal laws can mandate punishment for persons acting upon others out of hatred, but can't stop the hatred that caused it and will remain at its root. Only we can do that, but many try to hang on to that hatred for dear life. Often because it's the only thing that they have left, so letting go of it might make a demand on them that they cannot fulfill because they are incapable of doing anything else.
  2. Choosing the right foundation for such an "amazing" city requires people who share values and focus and visions, where everyone is free to be themselves without fear of their particular presence being a threat. That has not happened here yet, but it needs to.
  3. Nobody really "earns" love. If we had to earn it, we would be even more lost than we already appear to be. Your very existence should be enough not to get you pushed into a corner with people who don't see you, or who don't even bother to acknowledge your humanity in its proper position. Notably, there is no such thing as being in your 'place' - but there is such a thing as a proper  position in order to be at your level best at all times. We don't need to beg for what should already be on the table.
  4. When you're "doing amazing," it is duly noted that There really is someone within the realm of perfect for everyone!
  5. If husbands and wives can orient themselves to the world within their own perceptions that validate them as a couple, then when God says He is the God of the whole world and the just and the unjust alike, He means just that. Differences can be a profound opportunity to learn and expand; we are eternally lost without them. Prolific entertainer, dancer, artist and writer, the late Maya Angelou, told a story about how she once shot off her mouth to a man who declared to her that he was glad the French had never been guilty of the miscarriage of holding slaves. She stated that she spun around, glared at him and said in a loudly animated tone, "So what would you call Haiti, just another picnic in the park?" [paraphrased]. Later on, she realized she had cut off all chance at a meaningful dialogue with the Frenchman because -in haste of anger- she missed an opportunity to calmly educate him. East Highland & Citywide Blight
  6. A great and amazing city supports the right of its citizens to thrive and not just barely survive. We don't need to choose hatred or feign nonchalance about the lives of others just to feel safe in an occupied space. No one has a right to dictate what's in our hearts just because of the wanton behaviors of others.
  7. The focus that it takes to create success in the world is often different from the quality of attention needed to nurture a life at home. For those who call Columbus "Home," the entire city should be a representative family and not just a front cover page for the elusive few. Michelle Obama wrote a book called "Becoming," but the most outstanding part of that book is that she belonged somewhere and to someone first' so before she could become anything, she had to belong somewhere...just to have a springboard to bounce energy off of. For her, it all started at home and made its way to one "hug'em-all-up" First Lady. Communities are made of individuals who make up families who make up a town or city, a municipality, a county, a state, and then a nation -- one that is said to have worldwide influence and impact, all of which has not been good.
  8. True love transcends negotiations, for 'where there is no law broken, the law does not exist'. What is the greatest good for making Columbus, Georgia truly amazing for all of its citizens rather than picked-off pieces of it for political glam and floss while leaving the rest -the weightier matters- unattended, in shambles, and forsaken? Everything in life is better, sweeter, the air is fresher and the word "christian" only comes to life when it means what it says and is not just a cover-all on a bingo card for an internally broken and unadjusted city with so much dirt and dust swept under it that any cataclysmic shift or crack in the seam would swallow the entirety like a gigantic grave.

So...It's Not Pride Rock, right?

We love to watch The Lion King and see how the entire countryside changed when Simba took his rightful place as king of Pride Rock. According to some, we have such a 'King'...but He doesn't seem to be here except in some people's imaginations.

Wherein will Columbus become that 'shining city that sitteth on a hill', and be more than just amazing, but an amazing overcomer ... especially since it has shown forth such vitriolic hatred in its hidden-away swept under the rug dusty past? Such hatred and violence that has never been truly reconciled, just ignored and denied-even within its own legal jurisdictions.

August 24th. Stayed tuned.

Pastor S. Renee Greene, Open Book Ministries, Inc.

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