Aug 01 2016
Most of you know that in addition to having a full time job and hosting The Coffeepot Fellowship Podcast I am the Executive Director of another ministry called United Faith Leaders. United Faith Leaders often sponsors episodes of The Coffeepot Fellowship Podcast. Some people have assume that the guests on the podcast are the paying members of United Faith Leaders. What they have in common is the aspiration to expand humanity’s understanding of itself, faith and God. This episode of the podcast, if you haven’t figured it out already, is an aboration. So if you are here to meet a new guest, I apologize and you may skip this bonus episode. This is more of an audible blog post, beginning now. United Faith Leaders is clearly about unity. It’s about faith leaders coming together and serving everyone in the world. It’s about bearing God’s love to every soul in every dark corner of the world. It’s about bringing the light of love into every single heart. It’s about solidarity. It’s about making love manifest for every boy and girl, every man and woman, every age, every color, every everything. The only way for us to do this, as a humanity and as faith leaders, is to do it together. To deliver love everywhere we need everyone. In America you hear it in our watchwords like “freedom,” “equality,” “liberty,” and “justice.” And each of these things exist only as ideas in America. They are our aspirations. They are our “American Dream.” It has been said that America itself is only an idea, one still coming into being. I understand that but I would say that we are a concrete place. You can stomp on our dirt and swim in our waters. America is the place where the ideas are the ideas and ideals are still coming into being. One of my dreams is that as Americans, and more broadly as humans, we use the gift of education and critical thinking to accelerate the rate at which we progress. It is nice that each generation might be slightly less short-sighted than the one before, but I’m sure we can do better. Without devaluing our emotions and traditions, I call upon us to deep listening, education, conversation and introspection. While defiance may be important to retain, hostility and defensiveness are traits which hold us back. America gets painted as the opportunity to improve our station in life with our hard work. It means that all doors are open to all people equally. This dream is still unrealized equally in America and those with privilege tend to be less motivated to see the inequality or fix it. So forgive me as I speak as a white, ordained, highly educated, married, healthy, 44 year old, straight, cisgendered man in the United States of America in the 21st century. Every person has experienced prejudice. Every person has experienced being on the good side and bad side of favoritism. The point with prejudice is that women and minorities experience it relentlessly, with no escape. It is unjust when it happens to anyone just once. So it is far past time to stop allowing the injustices to occur everyday everywhere. As part of the steps toward healing racism, sexism, agism, etc. in the United States, privileged people will necessarily learn of our involvement in the perpetuating of these injustices. It’s okay; fully experience the pain and DO NOT respond defensively. As far as I know there is nothing to rightly say in response in that moment except to fully, deeply listen, understand and feel compassion. The response of privileged America needs to be with the rest of our lives — standing WITH those who are being slain and who’s doors of opportunity are not equally open. We should be making meetings with our elected officials, protesting with Black Lives Matter, marching in Pride events, and wearing our clergy attire. I try not to make blatantly political statements and I do not think we should vilify any human being. I try to speak generally and softly. Often I just need to shut up. This is NOT such a time. Every election has a moral element to it but some are far more consequential than others. And so, regarding the moral imperatives of our time I say … Donald Trump does not get to pick a date in history that is conveniently after his ancestors arrived. Every white American is an immigrant. Every American except Native Americans are not native to America. And if we are kicking out all of the Muslims then we should kick out all the Christians for our hostilities too. White people stole this land. Whatever hopeful and well-intended values we might have brought or developed we still carry the stain of our wrongs. After listening at a distance and watching safely on my high definition television, after reading many of the names of those killed by gun violence in America and those of color shot by our own police officers and subsequently acquitted by our courts, after the mass shootings, especially in Orlando, after back to back, mass murdering of innocent police officers by American citizens, after attending the Wild Goose Festival, processing and praying about what needs to happen, after watching the dark Republican National Convention and moving Democratic National Convention … here is my vision. Here is what I dream of happening in OUR United States of America in the days and decades to come. We need shared leadership. We need shared leadership everywhere, at every level. We need shared leadership in homes, on playgrounds, in classrooms, in workplaces, in courtrooms, in legislatures, in police stations, and on our streets. Justice and fairness, compassion and understanding, wisdom and progress, ask that the shared leadership is passionately for, and made up of, primarily women and minorities. In number and psyche we are wired to presume that leaders and authority come from the minds and mouths of white men. At the tables and in the rooms where policies, decisions and laws are being made and revised, women and minorities need to dwarf the the number of white men. To white men who feel like we have not been responsible for the prejudice in our country we need to wake up to the reality that our dominant inability to perceive prejudice and advocate for what we cannot see perpetuates the problems. Ideally, we need exit the rooms of power and influence until we are asked our opinions again. White men have had over 200 years of dominating the United States in all of its leadership positions - in business, at home and in government. It is time to be allies and accomplices to decades of improvements and revisions in the hands of our capable sisters and brothers. We can be productive and present in generally supportive roles. We have nothing to fear if we have truly done our best these first 200 years. If we have looked out for everyone else, if we have truly opened doors for everyone then we can trust that, in time, the playing field will become truly level for every American and perhaps every human being. This vision indeed sounds naive if one understand that America has succeeded based on a capitalistic economy which recognizes every individuals selfishness. Humanity has, however, at all times depended on the loyalty of our sisters and brothers. In our beginning it was said that “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately" (Benjamin Franklin). Like Gandhi and King clung to nonviolence, so must we. With grace, poise and courage we must take one courageous step at a time. What is today’s step that we must take? What is the challenge of our time, right now? Our first step today, July 31st, 2016, is this: Take a deep breathe and hear the deep frustrations and anger of every sister and brother from ocean to ocean, island to island, south to north. Do not react. Feel and understand. It may help to listen to The Coffeepot Fellowship Podcast. It may help to join or reach out to United Faith Leaders. It will definitely help to read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I think both books are available as audiobooks too. As I have spoken here, women and minorities, please forgive me for any ways I have misspoken or erred. White men, let us please take a deep breath and grow. Our next role is not like any of the ones we have had before. We are to be calm listeners and supportive accomplices to everyone who is not like us. Thank you and God bless everyone everywhere.