Christians are called to treat everyone with equal respect and dignity, because in Christ, we are all united, said Rev. Dr. Gerard Bolling during a speech at Concordia on Jan. 24 as part of Martin Luther King Jr. day events.
Bolling said that in this diverse age, we should learn to recognize the unique features of each individual and learn to speak about and with one another with inclusivity and love. He used a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to reinforce his ideas and initialize his discussion: “We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.”
A pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri, Bolling also is an assistant professor of Leadership and Theology and Concordia University Texas. He emphasized that everyone has a different life experience, and people cannot be judged from unconscious biases that one person or another might have.
Bolling used group discussion exercises to talk about people’s blind spots and assumptions about others. He said that it is important, especially right now, to work to recognize those biases and strive to overcome them.
Bolling encouraged his audience by saying unconscious bias is not something that can be fixed overnight but will require time, effort and recognition of the problem, as well as cultivating empathy to better understand each other.
He called on people to “change vocabulary for inclusivity” and said that if people use inclusive language they can then teach it to others, creating a ripple effect of empathetic individuals and leading to an empathetic society and an empathetic world.