When I was a child, I played Cowboys and Indians with my brother, Charles, and my cousins, Howard and Bobby. On television, I watched every episode of the Lone Ranger and his Indian sidekick Tonto. My dad took me to the Houston Rodeo to see them as the headliner show stars. The Lone Ranger and Tonto embraced their ethnic diversity and shared a common goal—to do their part for good to triumph over evil.
When I was about 11 years old, my Aunt Carolyn married a Native American, my Uncle Bill. Bill was from Oklahoma. He had many siblings. He worked on a large family farm and ranch. He raised cattle. Harvested hay. Spent long hours digging post holes and building fences. I and my numerous would-be cowboy cousins rejoiced to have an honest-to-goodness Indian join our Emmott Family. Uncle Bill played the guitar and sang Western Oldies too. That was an added bonus.
As I studied history, I learned that our forefathers far from embraced Native Indians. Cherishing diversity was not a consideration. Our Native Americans were treated as uncivilized people, not worthy, not as cultured, and not sacred as all God’s children are. After all, they were made in the image of God like you and me. Would God ever treat His children as we treated them?
My grandmother, Jennie Julie Hewett Emmott, lived in New Orleans at a very young age. In 1898 when she was 6, her father, Percy Hewett, took her to see Geronimo who was held in prison at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Thousands of Americans traveled to see Geronimo. Geronimo, the great Apache warrior, was referred to as “The Heathen” in the advertisements to attract paying customers to make the arduous trip to Fort Sill. My grandmother said that her stagecoach ride was cold, bumpy, long, and miserable. After her dad paid the admission fee of 25 cents, she found herself in front of Geronimo’s prison cell. To describe the moment for me, my grandmother said, ”I stared directly into the eyes of Geronimo, The Heathen.”
As children of God, the Native Indian people, then and now, deserve better than they were treated. Today, there are still many Native Americans who live on reservations without running water or electricity. This prayer is not only about bringing attention to a great wrong. Also, it is about recognizing that to God we are all different. We are all the same. Native Americans have a great cultural heritage in song, dance, crafts, and so many other things which enrich our lives. So do other people from all over the world who live and work in America.
My English teacher in my 8th-grade class at Dean Jr was Mrs. Sauer. Mrs. Sauer had our class read an essay on America being a “Melting Pot.” She stressed that America’s greatness resulted from Native Americans and immigrants from other countries and from diverse races and nationalities merging into one American race. A “Melting Pot” in which we all can savor, cherish, love, and appreciate one another. Mrs. Sauer taught me that America’s strength and greatness lie in its diversity and inclusiveness. I believed that then. I believe that now despite the divisions in our land.
We cannot change history. But, as God’s faithful people, we can honor and serve God by honoring and embracing the sacredness, diversity, and beauty that dwell among America’s diverse people.
God has spoken to us in Scripture about the diversity and sacredness of His children.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 14:26
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood, you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
Let us pray together.
Dear God, I thank You for the diversity of all people in America. My fellow Americans are not just Americans. They are Your children and my brothers and sisters.
God, when needed, please open my heart and eyes to see the divinity, talents, and worth in all people as Your love and spirit dwell in them.
God, please help me to do what I can to support others who are different from me. They may have every opportunity to live, grow, and love. The greatness of Your Kingdom on Earth is built upon the talents You have bestowed upon all Your people and me. We are Your tribe of many tribes. Your people, as one body of faith. In our diversity, there is the divine. The everlasting and eternal. There is You. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, “Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love,” go to http://www.BendingAngel.com website.