The Statues That Need to Fall Are in Our Cold Hearts

August 22, 2017 by

sunflower with bee

Much pent up anger and frustration is erupting in our nation. Protesters clash and crowds pull down statues. Far worse, people are being hurt and killed. There is a rapidly evolving nomenclature for groups on the fringes: alt-right, alt-left, antifa, neo-Nazi, and of course the old scourge of the KKK.

What is the basis of the growing division? The answer is simple: where there is no love, there is hatred; where there is no warmth, there is coldness.

But there must also be some sparks of love and warmth hidden somewhere. It is time to give oxygen to these smoldering embers.

The tragic death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, has shaken our country. What’s remarkable is that both her parents used the terrible circumstance to plead for an end to the violence. Her father, Mark, had the courage to call for forgiveness: “My daughter was a strong woman who had passionate opinions about the equality of everyone and she tried to stand up for that.… People need to stop hating and they need to forgive each other. I include myself in that in forgiving the guy that did this. I just think about what the Lord said on the cross. ‘Lord, forgive them.’”

The statues that really need to fall are in our cold hearts.

Here’s another spark for reconciliation: Daryl Davis is an African American blues musician who travels around the country befriending members of the KKK. “I never set out to convert anyone in the Klan. I just set out to get an answer to my question: ‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?’ I simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated.” It seems to work. Reportedly, over two hundred members of the white supremacist hate group have hung up their robes and reformed their racist views. This man should be sainted!

These two stories are evidence that forgiveness works, that love is indeed stronger than hate, that friendship can counter bigotry and violence. Look for more sparks; they are out there, but they need fanning into flames.

So what about the statues? There is noble history and ignoble history. It would behoove us to remember and learn from both. When confronted with images of iron or marble, we should pause to ponder history’s lessons, and teach our children to respect the sacrifices of past generations. Respect and learning are good, but we should never bow down to idols. Service to country is great, but war and division lead to destruction and death. Reflecting on the lessons of our past should spur us to look forward to forging strong communities with rebuilt relationships.

Are there statues that should fall? Maybe, but the furor over these monuments is distracting us from the real problem. The biggest idols are hatred and unforgiveness within each of us. The statues that really need to fall are in our cold hearts.

Heinrich Arnold is a father of seven and a grandfather of three, as well as a pastor, teacher, and musician. He lives at Woodcrest, a Bruderhof in Rifton, New York. Follow him on Twitter: @JHeinrichArnold.


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Heinrich Arnold 1

J. Heinrich Arnold

J. Heinrich Arnold serves as a senior pastor for the Bruderhof in the United States and abroad.

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  • The title of the article says, it all....speaking truth to "both" sides on the issue.

  • Thank you Carolee. Yes, may God wrestle the hatred out of our collective hearts. The grace is for everyone! God bless you and all brothers and sisters in Tanzania. J Heinrich Arnold

    J Heinrich Arnold
  • Right On! It is sad when people here in Tanzania, Muslim and Christian, have a similar message in their condolences to me about the USA. The perdicimate of hate is not just American, but unfortunately, in a country founded by "Christians" (even then many had slaves - but only God knew their hearts and dealt with them - as shown in the writings of the wrestling souls of some. May God in grace even wrestle with us, our nation, and beyond that God's will and kingdom come.

    Carolee Uits
  • This was such beautifully written passage.

    Barbara Kochapski