April 23, 2092
Judson was awakened by the deep voice of his phone: “Judson, your mother is calling.”
At first irritated, he responded, “Oh great!”
The phone spoke again, “Do you want me to take a message?”
Then Judson remembered what was happening – his grandfather, Papa, in the hospice facility. “No, I’ll talk to her.”
Papa was very ill, not expected to recover. Could this be that call?
No, it wasn’t. But the dying man was asking for Judson. He told his mother he would get there as soon as he could.
After showering, dressing, and eating a breakfast of Quiknute and coffee, Judson left his apartment and went to the parking garage. He entered his vehicle and gave driving instructions: “Comfort Hospice, south parking.” He relaxed in the seat and drank his coffee and waited to arrive at his destination.
Of course he thought about his grandfather. One hundred years old. Judson and Papa had always been close. Judson respected him – didn’t always understand him – but definitely respected him. More, deeper than that – loved him. And he had no doubt Papa loved Judson.
Arriving at the hospice, Judson went directly and quickly to the familiar room. His mother met him at the door and nudged him back into the hallway.
She said, “Judson, he’s got something on his mind. I don’t know what, but he wants to talk to you alone. Maybe he’s getting ready to pass.”
Curious and dreading, Judson re-entered the room and went to his grandfather’s bedside. His eyes were closed but he was probably awake. Judson lay his hand on the old man’s arm.
“Papa,” he said gently, “Papa, it’s me. You awake?”
Papa opened his eyes, formed a weak smile, and quietly spoke: “Glad to see ya, Judboy.” The nickname he had called his oldest grandson since he was an infant.
Judson smiled, “Hey, old boy, how you feeling?”
“Oh, not too bad. Won’t have to put up with this much longer, though.”
“Mom said you want to talk about something. I’m listening.”
“Judboy, I want you to get me some coffee.”
“Coffee? Okay. Now?”
“Yeah,” the dying man answered.
“Be right back.”
Judson left the room and found the snack station. He wasn’t sure how much coffee to get so he chose the largest serving available and instructed the beverage kiosk to dispense the Grande Coffee. The machine door opened and a gray colored 6-ounce cup appeared then was filled with the transparent tan liquid. The kiosk spoke in a soothing high-pitched voice: “Enjoy your coffee, Judson. It meets all standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Cultural Approval Institute.”
Judson chose the same for himself and carried the two room-temperature drinks to his grandfather’s room. He handed a cup to Papa. The old man looked at the coffee and handed it back to Judson.
“No,” he wearily said, “I want coffee. This is scam coffee. I want true coffee.”
Judson didn’t know what to think. He said, “Papa, this is coffee. It’s the only coffee there is.”
“No, it’s not coffee,” said his grandfather, “And it’s not all there is. I know it’s what we’ve been drinking and it’s been called coffee, but it’s not coffee. And it’s not all there is. Judboy, I want true coffee. Listen, go to your mom’s home. In the basement, there’s an old suitcase. It’s mine. It’s blue and orange. Find it, open it, bring me true coffee. Please.”
The young man thought his grandfather must be experiencing dementia. He left the room and found his mother. He told her what had transpired and asked, “Do you have any idea what he’s talking about?”
His mom thought a few moments and shook her head slowly and answered, “He does have an old suitcase in the basement. I don’t know. You may as well go get it.”
So Judson went to his mom’s home, rode the elevator to the basement, and asked the inventory kiosk for a blue and orange suitcase. The kiosk gave him specific directions for the location of the case then asked, “Would you like me to retrieve it for you, Judson?” He answered in the affirmative then the kiosk left and returned with the suitcase. Judson took it upstairs and opened it. He rummaged through old clothing until he found a massive strange-looking container – it must have held close to 16 ounces. To Judson’s amazement, the word “coffee” was written on the outside of the container, with the date “January, 2044.” Next to this container in the case was an even stranger looking object. Heavy black lettering spelled out “Coffee Maker. Follow these directions.” Judson was more than puzzled.
He took the “coffee” and “coffee maker” into the kitchen and began following the written directions. When he opened the “coffee” container he was overwhelmed by the astonishing fragrance. He put water in the “maker” then the amount of “coffee grounds” as directed and plugged the power cord into a wall outlet. He watched and listened to the “coffee maker” for several minutes. Suddenly it made a sharp shrill momentary sound he had never heard before, then nothing. Assuming the process was complete, Judson took a cup from his mom’s cabinet and poured. He was blown away. The “coffee” wasn’t a transparent tan liquid. It was almost black. And it was hot. He knew it was too hot for him to drink so he waited a couple of minutes, with astonished anticipation.
Finally, Judson lifted the cup of ancient beverage to his lips and took a tiny sip. Blown away again! Bold, rich, satisfying! This can’t be coffee! It’s what his grandfather called it – true coffee!
Judson quickly poured the rest of the true coffee into a beverage carrier. He got in his vehicle and instructed it to take him to Comfort Hospice, south parking. He wanted to drink with his grandfather but couldn’t wait. He poured another cup of true coffee and drank heartily.
But he was excited to take it to Papa. How long had it been since he drank true coffee? And why so long? Judson’s thoughts advanced. What is that stuff that we have been calling coffee? Why is it called coffee? Papa’s right – it’s scam coffee. But why? Why are they lying about it? Why are they scamming us?
Judson looked out the window of his vehicle at everything around. The check points. The armed sentries. The various units of students and workers being led to and from their assigned stations. The Safekeeping drones flying overhead. The digital street signs everywhere with constant scrolling messages: assurances of safety, invitations to government sponsored orgies and drug festivals, promises of prosperity, announcements of banishments, encouragements to flee your conscience, summons to no-limit entertainment. Gleaming government offices, educational centers, and theaters. Piles of rubble. Burned out buildings. Dead animals. Crashed and broken vehicles.
Then Judson was struck by a thought that had never entered his mind. A question he wondered if he should dare ask even in his own mind. He looked at the cup of true coffee in his hand and thought, “What else are they lying about?”
Racism and the division it produces has become a serious issue in the U.S. during the recent few of years. Well, it has always been a serious issue, that’s for certain. But it has again come to the forefront of our society. I don’t need to rattle off all the examples; you know what’s happening.
A lot of people know what’s happening and want it to change. Can it change? When the civil rights movement resulted in new laws and policies, it seemed that change was happening, but now look at the anger and fear and hatred and violence that are present – if there was change it certainly didn’t last. Why not? What needs to happen?
I want to share succinctly what happened to me.
I am a white man and I was a racist, growing up in Texas during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Not the white supremacist kind; I didn’t hate or fear other races. I just felt we whites were somehow better than other races, specifically African-Americans, and to some extent Hispanics . Well, yes, that is a white supremacy stance. I grew up in a culture that functioned with that belief. I have a very poor memory and there are only a few specific things from my childhood that I can remember. One is going with my mother to the Leonard Bros. department store in Fort Worth when I was about 6-8 years old. The image is still in my memory: separate water fountains and restrooms marked “Whites Only” and “Coloreds Only.”
We lived in a small town. A railroad ran through it. I heard stories from years past when black men riding in boxcars would try to get off in our town, and they were physically stopped by some of the local men. I felt proud of my town.
One day when I must have been about 10 years old, I was playing in our front yard. A two-lane road ran by. I saw a dump truck coming around the bend just south of our house. A black man was driving it. When he passed me, I blurted out a racial slur without even thinking about it. When the driver jerked his head around and looked at me, I ran into the house. Fortunately, he didn’t stop and beat the hell out of me.
Schools were integrated when I was in the 5th or 6th grade. I didn’t even know there was a separate school for African-Americans in our area. Only a couple of families from it enrolled in our school. One of the boys was in my class. Obviously, he was treated poorly. For my part, I can say that I liked him but I felt he was inferior to me because of the color of his skin.
My church in that small Texas town fostered that racist attitude. When there were protests and marches and demonstrations going on all over the country, my church voted on and adopted the policy that if any black person came into a service, the deacons would escort him out. The purpose of that was supposedly to avoid a confrontation and the disruption of the worship of God. “Go away! You’re not welcome here!” instead of, “Welcome! Let’s worship together! Let’s work together and make things better!”
I am embarrassed and saddened by these things.
When I was 19 years old, I put my faith in Christ and surrendered my life to him. I became a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Abracadabra – racism disappeared! Well, no it wasn’t that easy.
One of the critical features of my new life was learning that I needed to look at things, everything, from God’s point of view. I couldn’t have explained it very well at the time, but looking back now, I was developing a new belief system. Not just doctrine – an internal guidance system, core beliefs that shape my values and behaviors. There were truths that God wants his people to accept and live by instead of the ideas, values, and feelings they had been living by.
Then I read this (using the King James Version of the Bible at the time): “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus… There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ” (Galatians 3:26, 28). From the apostle Paul’s perspective, being a first-century Jew, there were two “races” in the world: Jews and Gentiles (“Greek” in KJV). God’s point of view is he doesn’t distinguish between these different kinds of people, including races, but makes all of us his children, unifies us in a faith relationship with Christ.
I had to compare what I had been believing with that and follow it to its logical conclusion. I realized if God doesn’t put the different races in any kind of pecking order, then who am I to think my race makes me better than another? Here was a new belief for me. It took some time of course, but I accepted this truth for myself. The Spirit of God changed my racist mindset. I began and have continued, imperfectly, to look at all people from that perspective. (I’ve learned many other truths which reinforce this key idea that God does not make a distinction between us and he desires unity in place of division.)
In the efforts to overcome racism, the idea often presented is that we need to try to understand others and appreciate others’ perspective and gain insight from others so we can reconcile and be united. I’m thinking maybe the process needs to be turned around. We need to be united then we will be able to understand and appreciate and gain insight from others. That kind of unity happens when we follow Jesus Christ and accept truth from him as our core belief system, when we pay attention to the Spirit of God transforming our hearts.
This is my basic story. I know that in practice overcoming racism is a complex process. I want to share that change can happen.