Me? Prejudiced? How is that possible?

Fady Dagher was born in Lebanon, grew up in Cote d’Ivoire and came to Canada as a young man. He was a police officer in the city of Montreal for many years and a few years ago was hired as chief of police for the city of Longueil. A couple of months ago he became chief of police for the city of Montreal.

That is already a remarkable Canadian success story. Even more intriguing is the reason for his return to Montreal. That very cosmopolitan city has in recent years been the scene of incidents of inter-ethnic violence and accusations of racism have been directed at the city police. It was felt that Mr. Fady had the competences, the vision and the open minded attitude to calm the situation.

He doesn’t deny that there are prejudices in some members of the police force and in the general public. He even confesses to having had some of those feelings himself. He does not feel the answer lies in disciplining police officers for every little incident, but in creating an atmosphere of understanding. He says that racism, and prejudices in general, are so subtle and hidden that a person may not even be conscious of them. The solution lies in getting to know one another and becoming conscious of one’s own suppositions about others.

The last paragraph is a paraphrase of what I retained of a recent newspaper interview with Fady Dagher. It struck me that this is something that many of us who are followers of Jesus Christ have yet to learn. We are all enthused about missions to far away nations, but when people of those nations immigrate to Canada and show up in our neighbourhood, we tend to be suspicious of them. It is true that they tend to form communities of people like themselves. But don’t we do the same? How can we understand one another if we make no attempt to get to know one another?

Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. I believe that applies as much to people of those nations who live among us as it does to those who remain in their home countries.

I don’t know how I am going to do it, but I want to make an effort to cross the invisible boundary that separates me from others who are not like me.

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