Yesterday, I left off with this conversation snippet...
ME: I admire Colin Kaepernick for his stance and starting the whole kneeling thing.
PERSON: I just don't want to see it.
I've actually had this conversation twice. One of them started this way and the other ended this way. The first time I had this conversation that led to it ending this way, I thought it was a victory to get to this point and away from the bitter vitriol that was directed towards Colin Kaepernick.
The second time it happened, I preached a Bystander Intervention sermon using the Good Samaritan as my example of good intervention and bad intervention :). I also wove some history of why intervention of the isms is necessary, including what we are seeing right now in the NFL with Colin Kaepernick. I included the fullness of my previous encounter about Colin Kaepernick because it is an example of low-key interrupting racism - bystander intervention - what my sermon was all about.
Side note: I will probably never get invited back to this church. Before the service I was told by a member, "We told our pastor that we don't want politics from the pulpit."
Uh huh. That'll never happen. But going on yesterday's post, this is conversational violence, right? Trying to purposefully silence other people's voices. Or purposefully withdrawing their own voice from the conversation and shared pool of wisdom.
After the sermon was over, a dude approached me....
DUDE: "I just don't want to see it."
ME: I thought, "Did this guy even listen to my sermon? Those are almost the exact same words that I used in the sermon?"
ME: "You know, it really isn't about you. He's not doing this for you. It is really about all the little black boys that are suffering and giving them hope in a world that treats them unfairly."
I think he really never thought about it being about anything other than himself.
Side note: This is the exact definition of white patriarchal privilege. In this system of oppression, it is always about centering the experience of the white male.
At any rate, it was a crucial conversation to have in a congregation where I was put on notice right away that politics weren't welcome.
Side note: What does that even mean? Everything is politics.
The book I'm reading, Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson, has these points about making a safe conversation (quoted below):
Step Out - When others move to silence or violence, step out of the conversation and Make It Safe. When safety is restored, go back to the issue at hand and continue the dialogue.
Decide Which Condition of Safety Is at Risk
- Mutual Purpose. Do others believe you care about their goals in this conversation? Do they trust your motives?
- Mutual Respect. Do others believe you respect them?
Apologize When Appropriate - When you’ve clearly violated respect, apologize.
Contrast to Fix Misunderstanding - When others misunderstand either your purpose or your intent, use Contrasting. Start with what you don’t intend or mean. Then explain what you do intend or mean.
Create a Mutual Purpose - When you are at cross-purposes, use four skills to get back to Mutual Purpose:
- Commit to seek Mutual Purpose.
- Recognize the purpose behind the strategy.
- Invent a Mutual Purpose.
- Brainstorm new strategies.
Now, since this entire sermon was framed in terms of de-escalation techniques and peacemaking to interrupt acts of racism, sexism, and classism (and the other isms), people were on board with the mutual purpose that I was bringing (for the most part). Nobody walked out in disgust. That was a win.
I don't believe that this gentleman ever felt unsafe. After all, he was able to stop me and tell me where I was wrong. And, I hope that I was able to create a mutual purpose with the gentleman who stopped me to make his point. The mutual purpose of lifting the hopes of young, black, youth.
The first time I had this conversation, it was literally with someone in their bed in an ICU unit. There was no way that I was going to get into a large discussion about system racism and honoring the flag/anthem/whatever in ICU with a dude (why is it always the white dudes?) who had just had open heart surgery. I felt like getting the room from disgust to "I don't want to see it" was a win and at least moved the outright verbal violence out of the conversation.
Sometimes you take what you can get.
At any rate, both times it happened, I had to be brave. As Mellody Hobson puts it in her excellent Ted Talk, be color brave not color blind. And white people, we need to be brave with our white people. And if you have the strength, be patient and kind. Commit to staying in the conversation to seek mutual purpose, even if it is a vague, "for the children." That doesn't mean you wander away from justice and mercy. But being just, seeking full inclusion of all people in all levels of society, does not mean that you cannot be kind.
Side note: I am drawing a difference between kindness and respectability politics. That may be a posting for another day.
What purpose will you seek today?
The complete practice today includes:
- Centering with BIBO,
- Breath prayer,
- Music from Mariah Carey
- Reflective quote from Rob Siltanen
- Links to scripture in the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions
- Prayers for the world
- Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
- Credit to Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High for the ideas presented
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--shhhh (repeat for one minute)
Breath prayer (repeat 3-5 times):
(inhale) Purpose Maker,
(exhale) Bring justice.
Anytime you need a friend
I will be here
You'll never be alone again
So don't you fear
Even if you're miles away
I'm by your side
So don't you ever be lonely
Love will make it alright
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, please share!
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Rob Siltanen
Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up. I encourage you to fill this in however you see it.
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while mourning for the desecration of hope.
This week we pray for the countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
the mercy workers working so hard to put out the fires
those faithful who practice nonviolence and peacemaking
the rains that come to refresh the land, especially hoped for in California
our political leaders, that their hearts may be softened and sensibility will prevail
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
those seeking food and shelter, especially those whose homes were destroyed in wildfires
those affected by hurricanes, especially Puerto Rico and the new threat of withdrawn support
those who have been harmed by violence, especially those harmed by gun violence
those who suffer in systems of domination, especially the earth
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to, we pray.
For the transformation from ME to WE, we pray.
Let peace prevail on earth.
So mote it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.