By Marilyn Graham Dysart

I have been reflecting on ways I have interacted with the Enduring Principles, specifically the Worth of All Persons. Certainly, God views all people as having inestimable and equal worth. Sadly, many humans fail to recognize that equal worth.

What have I done to equalize opportunities for others? Also: What contributions have I made toward racial justice?

My musings took me back to an English class I took from the late Dr. Barbara Higdon at Graceland University. She directed us to read about the civil rights movement and investigate the disparity between the treatment of white people and Black people in society. I completed a project that revealed how few companies marketed products to people of diverse races and cultures.

Years after, I participated in a community march to bring attention to racial profiling, and I learned of ongoing racism and justice issues. Later, I served as one of the charter members of a midwestern chapter of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. I witnessed the positive changes that could be made by a diverse group of people. In a Lamoni Heartland USA Mission Center Zoom panel, I was reminded of my white privilege—a privilege that challenges my ability to empathize with marginalized communities struggling for economic justice.

How can each of us journey closer to racial justice? We should start with an examination of our hearts and then develop strategies to move closer to racial justice and Worth of All Persons. Recognizing that worth and following up with helpful actions should be a normal part of our beliefs and ministry.

These experiences, along with continued reading and study, have helped me understand how to uphold the Worth of All Persons. The Bible is full of examples of figures who fulfilled God’s purposes of loving others of all races. In the book of Genesis we learn that empathy for people of different races and backgrounds is important.

The Bible reminds us to “love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19). Another powerful Bible message comes when Naomi decides to return to her native Bethlehem with daughter-in-law Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite, not an Israelite. We learn that while others treated Ruth as inferior, God loved her the same and even saw her as part of his plan to bring the world a Redeemer (Ruth 2).

We are reminded in the Bible to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21), to not only to be hearers of the word but doers (James 1:22), and to let our light shine in such a way the world sees our good deeds and glorifies our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

How can each of us journey closer to racial justice? We should start with an examination of our hearts and then develop strategies to move closer to racial justice and Worth of All Persons. Recognizing that worth and following up with helpful actions should be a normal part of our beliefs and ministry.

So why hasn’t the slow-moving train of racial justice picked up much speed through the years? We can look inward and see perhaps that empathy is only a small step toward racial equality. Action is the next bigger step.

About the Author

Marilyn Graham Dysart

Marilyn Graham Dysart lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, USA. She received a bachelor’s degree from Graceland University (1972) and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin (1976). A retired middle school language arts instructor, she has written several books including her most recent, Good Hearts.

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