Do you believe demons exist? Evil Angels? World Vision embraces a rich diversity of Christian experience. About a third of the staff have a literal understanding of demons.
What does the Demon named “Racism” look like?
Black, clawing, grasping, cutting, eating away like a putrid disease, turning its victims into people with hate in their eyes, jack-booting their way through life daubing venomous graffiti condemning Jews, Asians and aborigines?
No. I don’t think this is what the Racism Demon is like at all.
The racism demon is the nicest man you ever met.
Smooth, urbane, sophisticated. His eyes are friendly. His manner is pleasant. His words are well chosen and correct. He is well dressed and well mannered and well met. His logic is disarming. His language persuasive. His intention wholesome.
The racism demon puts forward the reasonable proposition that a politician murdered in Sydney was not merely the victim of crime, but of Asian crime. We almost don’t notice that a whole ethnic group of Australians has been classified as criminals. It is subtle. Maybe even accidental. No offence is intended. “Forgive me. You have misunderstood what I meant. Some of my best friends are Asians” says the demon.
The racism demon puts forward the reasonable proposition that Australia has but one flag, and that an athlete who carries another symbol is insulting her nation.
The racism demon suspends our memories of Cathy Freeman at the Auckland Commonwealth Games when after winning her gold medal she paraded around carrying a flag with a Boxing Kangaroo on it. This is a flag inspired by a man, once-rich on other people’s money, of which he used millions to win a boat race. No-one then said, “We have only one flag in Australia.”
The racism demon averts our eyes from the spectacle, the day after Cathy Freeman’s victory lap, of a Scottish athlete, winner of the women’s 10,000 metres, parading around the field carrying the flag of her tribe. No Scot appeared to be offended by her carrying a tartan. No Scottish sports official was heard to say, “We have only one flag in Scotland.”
The racism demon wants us to think that he is obvious. But he is not. Most of the racism in our society is invisible, unintended and unconscious.
Yet, this last week, we had a meeting here in which the racism demon was present, but frustrated.
World Vision Australia stands squarely in the middle of the racism issues facing our nation. We are an organisation which follows a Lord who came to free the oppressed, to break the shackles of bondage, to lift up the downtrodden, to release the poor, to declare a day in which black and white could join together as equals in freedom, equals in justice, equals in peace.
Last week we met here with the demon present. But we also had his countervailing angel. The angel is named, “Reconciliation”.
The reconciliation angel is open and honest. Strong and plain speaking. Sometimes it is more painful to endure the honesty of the reconciliation angel than to be coddled and massaged by the racism demon. Discovering the hidden, unconscious and unintended racism in ourselves is not always a pleasure.
Yet, we are doing it in World Vision Australia. We are committed to embracing and learning from the angel of reconciliation. She will be our guide from our Lord Jesus who yearns for all his creation to live in peace and harmony.
Aboriginal and other Australians can learn to live and work together within World Vision Australia. The meetings we had here last week demonstrated that. It’s not easy. And it is not perfect. It requires patience from all, forgiveness from all, determination from all. But it is do-able.
It is do-able because, in the end, we know that angels are more powerful than demons.