As I drive by the Confederate monument on the University of Louisville campus I reflect on events of the past. I recall images that I dreaded in my youth. There was the house in our neighborhood we thought was haunted, the neighbor who was rumored to shoot kids who played in his yard, and the summer drive by the public school which reminded us that nine months of confinement lay ahead. My dreaded visions of the past are different from the ones that some folks currently feel when they glance at the monument.
I am reminded by my friends of different color and culture of some of the fears that shaped their heritage. They tell stories of being stalked and followed while they innocently shopped in department stores. I would mention new places to eat and my friend would reply, “Do black people go there?” My answer was I did not know because I seldom, if ever, have to worry about being singled out because of my heritage or race.
If I tell my friend I know how she feels, I am being hypocritical because I have never been treated this way. I realize that certain symbols mean nothing to me but evoke fear and anger in others. I also need to be mindful of the scars that society has left on the souls of some folks.
However, we need to respond to these types of situations with wisdom, sympathy, and common sense. We cannot erase history because parts of it were cruel and hurtful. Hopefully, this statue may be a reminder of the horror and pain this conflict created and incentive to avoid this type of behavior in the future.
I believe that someday we will all live in a world where situations like this one won’t really matter. We will live in a world described in Isaiah 10:6, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the colt and the lion and yearling together, and a little child will lead them.” Until then, may our fears be shared in a way that would please the one who created us.