Last week the national news was dominated by the release of a disgusting video from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma.
Two fraternity members, Parker Rice and Levi Pettit, have been expelled for their role in leading the racist sing-a-long. The chant included racial slurs of African-Americans, boasting they would never be members of their fraternity. And even included the words “You can hang ‘em from a tree.”
The reaction from the University President, Dr. David L. Boren, was swift and emphatic as he denounced the video, condemned the students involved, and shut down the fraternity. Also the national headquarters of Signa Alpha Epislson released a statement saying, “The chant is in no way endorsed by the organization nor part of any education whatsoever.”
News programs, “talking heads” and journalists have discussed this incident. It once again brings to our national consciousness the issue of race relations in America. Are they better? Or worse? Is the SAE behavior an isolated situation? Or it is symptomatic of a larger problem?
One response that offers hope comes from Isaac Hill, president of the OU’s Black Student Association. Hill invited the members of the offending fraternity, SAE, to meet with his group. Appearing on the Megyn Kelly show, Hill said the students should be forgiven. “It’s not smart to fight hate with hate,:
In the most remarkable moment of the interview Kelly asked Hill what he would tell the people who’ve attacked the SAE fraternity house with graffiti and issued death threats against its members.
Instead of calling for retribution, revenge and revolt, Hill said, “Let’s not let their hate spark hate with us.”
Kelly was visibly impressed with the young black leader’s attitude and response.
Hill continued, “Let’s just let their hate spark love with us, and let them learn, and let’s teach them how to be good American citizens.”
“Isaac Hill, you’re an extraordinary young man,” Megyn said. “God bless you.”
Isaac Hill’s words remind us of Dr. Martin Luther King’s admonition, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
And how do we accomplish what King preached and Hill asked others to heed?
We must come to the Light. Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) In His famous Mountain Message, our Spiritual Light urged us to act differently than the world.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” (Matt 5:43-46)
I don’t know Isaac Hill’s religious beliefs, but his actions illustrate the living truth of Jesus’ commandment. Communication. Kindness. Forgiveness. In a world of harshness and censorious condemnation, these are refreshing qualities.
Instead of bitterness and anger, Isaac Hill offered hope. He told Megyn Kelly that the racist comments could be used as an opportunity to learn and grow. “Those behaviors are taught,” he said. “We are all born innocent people.”
Indeed sin is a choice. Our actions, attitudes and words are formed through our environment, teaching and personal decisions. But we have the power to change. To subdue the dark desires of the devil. And walk in the Light of Christ.
The Bible says, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men….Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:17,21).
Oscar Hammerstein was right when he wrote these lyrics for the musical South Pacific. “You’ve got to be carefully taught.” Thanks Isaac Hill for teaching us to love instead of hate!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman