Maybe because we only live 70 to 90 years, we are impatient to have things happen. We want to see the world’s troubles fixed during our lifetime. We pray and we take action, and when we don’t see results right away, some of us give up. We say, “Why bother? I’ve tried and tried and nothing changes. May as well surrender to the way things are.”
One of my mistakes is that my knowledge and experience are so limited. I always disliked history in school, so my facts about the past are shaky. But even with my limited knowledge, I can see that things have changed. The changes are slow, often taking over 100 years to take effect, and that’s longer than I have been alive. Slavery, women’s suffrage, child labor—how long did it take for these things to be resolved? More than one lifetime. Some of the women who fought for votes died before the 19th amendment was passed. They never saw the fruits of their efforts. Impatient people that we are, we don’t like that.
Right now, humans of all colors are frustrated that the race problem has not been fixed yet. Our frustration is breaking out in protests, some peaceful and some violent. If we had a longer view of the progress of history, we could see that the arc “bends toward justice,” but it is a long arc. Still, we are progressing.
When my parents put our house in Pomona on the market in 1966, the neighbors made sure to come over to warn us not to sell to blacks. Our street had all white residents; the nearest people of color were at least three blocks away. When my dad asked the Realtor to not show the house to blacks, the Realtor refused to promise that. Already enough progress had been made in law to make such discrimination illegal. I cannot imagine my current neighbors coming over with such a warning if I put a “for sale” sign in front of my house in the year 2020. Fifty-four years separate me from those fearful white neighbors. Progress is slow, but it is being made.
All growth takes time. Imagine a baby gestating in the womb. The process cannot be rushed if a viable child is the goal. And pushing that full-term baby into the world will be painful. We accept that. Maybe we need to accept that the birth of our new society based on love and equality will be painful and take time, too. I’m not advocating for sit-and-wait. But I am saying not to despair. We are making steps forward in our fallible human way. Even within one lifetime we can see the change. We are getting closer to God’s dream for us. It may take a few more big pushes, but the new birth is coming.