The Generalizing of Bad

I used to have this thing about berries. Strawberries excluded since strawberry jam and preserves were as frequent as biscuits in my Kentucky growing up days, I cringed at the thought of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries, and anything else that was berry-related. There was even a guy in school with me named Barry, who I viewed with suspicion.

No one could convince me that berries weren’t all bad. When blue raspberry came out as a 7-11 Slurpee flavor I almost gagged. Raspberry popsicles were of the devil, and I viewed a salad garnished with blueberries as infested.

We have a tendency to categorize as bad something that is slightly related to something else we dislike. I had an American History teacher who succeeded in making the history of our country so bland and boring that I developed the mindset that viewed all of American History as dull and irrelevant. Thankfully, I had a professor for one course in my second year of college that brought it alive. Truth be told, I needed another class and the American History 101 course fit neatfully into a time slot, plus it was close to my dorm. My labeling of all American History being thrown onto the junk pile was completely transformed by that class and I switched my college major to history. Go figure!

Our culture’s tendency to generalize in these recent troubling times has led us down a dark path of suspicions, accusations, and guilt by association. Like associating blueberries with the demonic is a real reach toward the unreasonable, associating all law enforcement officers with the actions of a few makes about as much sense as wearing underwear populated with holes. And sometimes our generalizing of the bad keeps gaining unjustified momentum, like a crazed mob, and there seems to be no end to the pushback. Politicians get on board, athletes go viral with their views, people who have checkered pasts becomes lead spokespersons, and businesses that have no connection to anything that has conspired get looted and/or torched.

Like a teacher having the bad kid in his class before any of the siblings advance

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to that grade level, he has a hard time seeing the others as different than the oldest one who had a membership card for the principal’s office.

Our culture rushes like charging bulls toward ludicrous solutions without any vision of the long-term consequences. Grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation are a few banners that get torn and trampled in the rush.

There are signs of hope. Community prayer gatherings attended by people of different colors and pastors of various faiths have happened. People are dialoguing with one another about how peace might be welcomed back into our cities and neighborhoods. The area of the city we reside in has had gatherings called “Coffee With a Cop”. Neighbors are helping one another and checking to make sure people are okay. Proactive and peace-loving is always better than reactive and revengeful. And things that we never thought could change…change!

Like me and the berries! I’ve come to like raspberries and blueberries. I have them as a part of my breakfast most days of the week. Now I even coach with a guy named Barry! As Jesus said, “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

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