Tag Archives: unity

Day 6: Bridging Divides (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsI am deeply weary of polarizing conversations. To the point that I want to weep every time something controversial comes up. I already have an intense dislike for confrontation, but this? This is so much more.

I know some people who regularly hashtags their posts with things like #liberalsarestupid. I know others who regularly post things about all conservatives being greedy and indifferent to the poor or hating women. I want to shake someone and shout, “How is this helpful???”

If you see that there are some deep-rooted problems that negatively affect minorities woven into our system of policing, you must hate the cops.

If you state something showing gratitude for law enforcement, you’re racist and ignorant.

If you observe that yes, Israel has a significance on the world stage and in spiritual matters, but maybe that doesn’t give them a blank check to do whatever they want, you’re anti-Semitic, anti-American, and quite possibly, not Christian anymore.

If you support the right to bear arms but think maybe there should be some additional safety measures in place because the world is a messed up place, you’re ignorant, anti-Consitution, and anti-American, and want all the criminals to be able to run roughshod all over you.

If you think that in spite of whatever Planned Parenthood’s claims to the common good are, their roots are horrendous and there’s some shady business going, you hate women and want all the poor, minority women to suffer the most.

On and on. It goes on and on and on. I’d like to add a disclaimer that my examples above are extreme, but they’re not. These are conversations and interactions I observe every single day, and it breaks my heart. We think the worst and say the worst, and meanwhile, there are gaping wounds that need to be healed.

Maybe this isn’t a simple truth. Maybe it’s complicated, or maybe it’s become complicated, even though it shouldn’t be.

However extreme or different our views may be, we all have a vested interest in the well-being of our nation, of the world, of individuals, of families. Nothing will get better by calling names, by assuming that anyone who thinks differently than you is stupid or ignorant or hateful. That kind of language might get article hits and social media shares, but it doesn’t bring healing or redemption or hope or solutions.

The simple, not-so-simple truth? Change starts when we are willing to truly listen, not to tear down each other’s arguments or form our own defenses, but to hear what matters to someone else’s heart and find the common ground we need to stand on and move forward. Change starts when we are willing to challenge our own views and deeply held convictions, while seeking to understand why someone else’s conviction is different than our own.

Unsplash/Nick Scheerbart

Unsplash/Nick Scheerbart

We can all stand there stubbornly holding our ground and shouting insults, or we can close our mouths, open our ears and our hands, and start building bridges.

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Healing, Justice

Healing the Race Wounds

Not too long ago, I was sharing with someone about the church my husband and I were at for 16 years before we moved.  It wasn’t perfect because there is no such thing as the perfect church, but there were some significant areas where this church got it very, very right.

The one I perhaps miss the most is that it was a dazzling kaleidoscope of color, so racially diverse.  And I’m not talking about a church that’s like 80% white with a few token black and Hispanic families thrown in so they can pat themselves on the back about being multiracial.  Not even close.  This was the real deal – a congregation with a strong African-American presence, a strong Hispanic presence, a strong Caucasian presence, plus a smattering of all kinds of other backgrounds and nationalities along the way.

I remember once hearing our pastor there mention how other pastor friends had commented on this characteristic and wondered how on earth we made it work.  And I remember thinking, “Why on earth would it not work?”

The context of this conversation was set against the deep racial wounds being exposed by the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial.  Truthfully, the depth of it all surprised me.  Not because I’m so naive as to think racism no longer exists in this country, but because I forget what a unique thing it is to grow up in an environment where racial differences were secondary to shared faith and purpose, where friendships were forged by what we had in common.  And when challenges did arise, they were navigated in the context of covenant relationships – we were committed to each other no matter what.

I have been blessed with friendships where we could frankly, lovingly and respectfully discuss issues of race – challenge each other or repent to each other when necessary.  We were able to say to each other, “Help me understand.”  We could face the hard things and walk away, not divided, but further unified.

I’ve had parents say to me, “Would it have been easier to go to an all [insert ethnicity or color] church?  Maybe, but I don’t want my kids growing up that way.  They would miss out on so much.”  So they made a deliberate choice to enlarge their boundaries.

This is the world I grew up in.  So yes, I forget that it’s not normal.  I said as much and the response I got was basically, “Yeah, you really need to get in touch with the rest of the world.”  And for a moment, I felt shamed and guilty, like I had done something wrong.

But the more I thought about it, I’ve concluded perhaps it would be more effective if the rest of the world got in touch with the reality I experienced.  We can stand in our monochromatic corners all day and shout, “Racism!” from afar at each other, but in the end, we will accomplish nothing.  There is no law, no trial verdict that can fix this.

The only way barriers come down is when we refuse to be contained by them.  If we actually want to mend this wound, we have to stop coming at each other insisting on being understood and instead lean in towards each other with a desire and willingness to understand.  And we absolutely must leave our all-(choose-your-color) corners of the universe and do life alongside each other.

And yes, I get that this is easier said than done.  It does get bumpy and difficult sometimes.  But it’s worth the effort and the messiness.  We have to stop imparting to our children the messages that “they’re just too different from us” or “they’re out to get us” or “they’ll never understand us” if we ever expect to make progress.  Instead the message needs to be, “There are people who are different from you, and that may be hard sometimes, but you will be wiser and better and richer if you will soak in everything they can teach and show you about the world.”

I’m crazy enough to believe this is possible.  Because I’ve lived it.  One person, one choice at a time, we can see this wound healed.

 

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Filed under Church, Faith, Healing, Pain