The topic I would like to address with this column, and at least one more, is not the most comfortable of subjects, but for that reason alone, is necessary to bring up and shed light upon.

Racism. A nasty little word being used more and more, it seems, in public discourse nationally, at times with reason and at times recklessly, causing tension when it could be avoided.

Let's get one thing done right off the bat. There is only one race of people on this planet--the human race. Some of us, like myself, are of European descent and light-skinned. Others trace their heritage back to Africa, and their skin is dark. Our brown-skinned brothers and sisters proudly claim Hispanic roots. And let us not overlook those with a Middle Eastern and Far Eastern background.

But cut one of each and our blood looks the same. All those segments of humanity have the same concerns about doing the best they can, day to day, and protecting and providing for their children. We have similar fears, similar desires, similar hopes and dreams.

And we all can claim a single point of origin, well-stated in the second chapter of Genesis: "Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being."

That fact alone gives us so much common ground. Is there some level of cultural difference between an African-American, Hispanic and a white person? Well sure, but so what? Those differences combine to make the world a far more interesting place!

In that we all can trace our roots back to Genesis and the Garden of Eden, that makes us all children of the same God and loved beyond measure by our Heavenly Father. We are therefore called to follow the teaching of Jesus and love each other, wishing the greatest good and happiness for each other.

So why do we fail at this so miserably at times? Why do members of one segment of the human race--and it can be any segment--sometimes act as if that segment is superior to all the others?

Why does racism (an inexact term, but it will do for now) exist in a society that should know better, especially if its citizens call themselves believers in God?

I do believe there is an active racism and a passive version, and I want to get more into those at another time. God bless.

Michael Clapp is a deacon at St. Joseph Catholic Church.