Why We're Going To Talk About Racism and Guns and Flags and Privilege… Now.

the_art_of_conversation_by_rttmsdag-d32q8oc

America, we need to talk.

We need to talk about a lot of things.

We need to talk about racism,
and gun violence,
and manipulative media,
and Confederate flags,
and partisan politics,

and white privilege,
and religious extremism,
and mental health.

We need to, but apparently we can’t because we’ve been told so.

The decision of silence has been made for us:

“It’s too soon.”
“That’s not the real issue here.”
“The timing isn’t right.”
“That won’t prevent what happened in Charleston.”

This is simply no longer acceptable.

If now is not the time, just when in God’s name is it time?

What is the tipping point in human life where dialogue becomes permissible?

When is there enough blood spilled to merit everything having to be held up to the raking light of examination?

Nine beautiful African-American people are gunned down;
by a young white male claiming racial hatred as his sole motive,
with a gun his father legally purchased for him,
in a state still flying a flag loaded with a bloody history,
through a brutal execution distorted in every possible fashion by biased media outlets and polarizing pundits and opportunistic politicians—
and we can’t talk about any of it?

Not good enough, my friends; not by a long shot.

Our country is terribly broken and no one here is qualified to decide what topics are off-limits as we try together to fix it. The whole sick, hateful, damaged, hemorrhaging thing is on the table.

It has to be.

Injustice is never remedied when people of power or privilege or position shut down the discussion. 

In the space of that forced silence, any wounds that exist only fester and spread until the whole thing becomes toxic; until the hatred metastasizes and nothing is left un-poisoned.

Our country is so afflicted.

And so we are rebelling against your suggested silence today. We are respectfully but surely defying it.

We are declaring without ambiguity that one side does not get to quiet the other.

If you love guns, you alone don’t get to decide that they aren’t part of the problem of violence.
If you are white, you don’t get to determine whether or not people of color aren’t still victimized by institutional racism.
If you fly a Confederate flag, you don’t solely get to decide whether it connotes history or hatred beyond your front yard.

If you patronize partisan media, you don’t get the final word about whether or not it is nurturing hateful hearts.

We all decide that together

This is how this Democracy thing works:

It invites opinion.
It celebrates discussion.
It finds beauty in the exchange of many ideas for the common good.
It recognizes urgency and responds 
immediately.

Whatever is worth preserving about America, was formed in the crucible of conversation; in the difficult, uncomfortable times and spaces where dissenting and diverse voices met and where compromise was reached.

That is our country’s calling card in the world, or at least it is supposed to be.

And so we are going to talk about it; all of it.

Now.

Those of us interested in being agents of healing are going to loudly ask every question and raise every possibility and speak every hidden fear and slaughter every sacred cow, because if we don’t do that in this day, we know that we will be mutually complicit in the violence of the days that follow.

You can opt out, but know that you will not do it with clean hands.

If you choose not to engage in this conversation now (whether or not you want to admit it) you will be willing accomplices to coming suffering.

When another Charleston or Ferguson or Baltimore or Sandy Hook happens—that blood will be thick on your hands.

This is the cost of your silence now; of procrastinating away dialogue.

Its toll is life. It is paid for by the blood of others, in the next horrific news story.

That is why we who seek hope in the future will demand discussion now.

We will invite all those willing to shape a solution to the wounds of this nation, into a true conversation without agenda or limit or caveat or boundaries.

That is what Humanity does, and open, passionate, messy, dialogue is the table of Grace where it meets.

Silence may be your aspiration, but for us it is no longer an option.

Too much life has been lost, too many memorial services held, too much damage done.

We have no peace, with your quiet.

 

 

 

0 thoughts on “Why We're Going To Talk About Racism and Guns and Flags and Privilege… Now.

  1. Wisely stated, John. You and I are both prophets in a land that only understands profits. I may be Joel in relation to your Jeremiah, but we both know the train wreck that’s coming to our land if the false prophets of “peace, peace, when there is no peace” continue to dominate our public discourse.

  2. So here is the hard question you are dancing around with all the other issues: was desegregation a good idea? Or did it just turn the racists bitter?

    • Absolutely, it was and is…it is not what is outside of man that corrupts. It is what is inside that corrupts…everybody should have access to everything equally. If someone thinks there is something wrong with that, the problem comes from within…

    • Theodore I am not sure were you are coming when you state that John “is dancing around the hard question”. I think if you look at the totality of what he wrote there is no need for such a question because desegregation is implied by all of us coming together to talk, to search, to struggle with what is going on in this country when it comes to violence and race. He is calling us out to move pass race to embrace the humanity of everyone.

    • Desegregation forced people to encounter each other in neutral zones and start interacting. Not a mistake. An opportunity. Those who have fear or hatred stick in their homogeneous neighborhoods and stores and churches. Those who want to heal their ignorance venture out and welcome dialog. So – let’s talk.

    • It was a good idea that turned many of the racists—but not all–bitter. A few actually moved beyond their racism. I love the way the French say it “Rah-shees-muh.”

    • If racists turned bitter, it is not because desegregation was a bad idea, but because racism is a corrosive mental illness that should be treated as such.

    • Race is a social construct, not biological. Thus the solution must be social and that can only happen through integration.

  3. While I sit here in the hospital having my needs and issues neglected because I come with a whole bunch of undesirable labels (poor, mentally ill, unemployed, and uninsured) I definitely agree it is time we talk about what’s really happening so we can all start figuring out real solutions to the very real troubles plaguing life as we know it.

  4. I’m a white woman who re-posted a wonderful comment by a black woman to us about not ignoring color anymore. I was told by another white, Christian friend to stop talking about anti-racism and negativity and focus on “pro-God’s-love” messages. Ugh. Anywho, thanks for this!

  5. Okay John. Let’s talk about them. We will start with racism first.

    RACISM

    We all thought racism was nearly dead in the Unites States. We were wrong. It just went underground in the late 1960s with the election of Richard Nixon in 1968. An uncle of mine was an avowed racist. He believed that the Democratic Party had forsaken its 100-year-old promise to protect the American South from Yankees and uppity “niggers.” He told me that he was switching to the Republican Party because it was promising to be more reflective of his own conservative values—including his racism—and he believed racism was a precious, baseline conservative value in the United States.

    In traditional southern white parlance, the term “nigger” down south means a person with black or brown skin who is lazy, possesses an IQ of about 85, cannot handle any but the most menial of tasks, and possesses a natural inner proclivity for violence, criminal activity, and unfathomably deep moral depravity—which reaches its nadir in an insatiable sexual desire for white women—even the ugly ones and old ones. Traditionally, southern people believe that most of these characteristics are genetically based and lie totally beyond the ability of the “nigger” to change himself or be changed by the moral actions of others external to him or her. Therefore, the “nigger” must be constantly and carefully watched, oppressed, and demeaned as much as possible—and managed by whatever means are necessary—to protect white Americans from harm—even violence. Therefore, a highly accomplished and sophisticated “nigger” such as George Washington Carver is little more than the occasional and expected idiot savant that can arise in any population around the world—a freak of nature.

    Now, back to my racist uncle and racists going underground in 1968. This is a true story, and I want all of you to take me at my word here because I have actually seen this in action. My uncle (dead now) was a Manager in Nashville city government in 1968. The Civil Rights Movement loomed like a giant and cast a long shadow across his mind. He saw the culture of the Old South that he was raised in being ripped apart and felt culturally displaced by it. He saw black people making one civil rights demand after another and white Democratic politicians delivering whatever they asked for on a silver platter—in his mind. In his mind, the American “nigger” was becoming the most powerful and monolithic entity on the American landscape. One of his employees was a black alcoholic who sipped hard liquor throughout the day at work. He wanted to fire this person because of their drinking on the job (not their race), but he knew that any attempt to do so in that civil rights climate would have resulted in him getting fired rather than the drinker at work. In 1956, he could have said, “Hey, Nigger John. Please go down to the basement and get me a case of pencils.” By 1980, he was in an environment where the word “nigger” at work could get him fired inside 5 seconds. He believed that black people had become so powerful that he had to defer to them at every turn (no matter what outrageous thing they were doing) and that he literally had to step lightly on eggshells every second of the day in dealing with them—or everything precious in his life could be ripped away in a matter of just moments through his angry boss or a black person’s lawyer. In his mind, the American black man and woman and their new civil rights in American society had become 25 feet tall, and he felt that he was suffocating under the pressure. He looked around and sensed that he, his fellow racists, and all white people had been marginalized and checkmated to the point that they were now oppressed people living UNDERGROUND who had to stay silent about their “anti-nigger” views or suffer dire consequences in American society. They were doomed to suffer—and not just suffer—but suffer in silence and do it for years and years and years on end with no relief in sight. That was his view of the matter—and I think the same view of many millions of white racist Americans everywhere in the United States.

    Then a miracle happened in 2008. A black man was elected President of the United States. The racists—in their marginalized silence were horrified. America was in danger. A “nigger” in the White House could bring the whole planet to its knees beneath the “Great Nigger Monolith” that had been erected and maybe end the world as all people knew it. Not just white Americans alone—but billions of people worldwide were in danger—and the new “nigger” President also believed (some said) in the original religion of Niggerdom—the same religion as our Arab terrorist enemies. Something had to be done—and they saw an opening for the first time in decades—a way out of their marginalization and silence—a way to save the United States and the world.

    While you might not be able to call the President a “nigger” in public, you could use the vicious rhetoric of American politics to criticize the “nigger.” You could call the man “nigger’ without ever having to use the word “nigger.” And if you did it often enough, all of the suffocating underground racists (wink, wink) would understand that elements of the political rhetoric meant “nigger.” This vicious political rhetoric was the key out of the underground dungeon where American racists had been held against their will in suffocation for decades. The snowball got rolling and pretty soon a 2-inch snowball was growing giant in size, and the once underground racist elements began to feel more open, free, and empowered like they did in the 1950s. Many could find creative ways to be openly racist against black people and not get scarred by any sort of credible backlash. They even made it a social crime to commit a new act they dubbed “playing the race card” because obviously racism was over and done with in the United States (wink, wink). And here we sit. The racism that was chased underground never died, as some foolishly thought. It was just in its suffocating dungeon, suffering immensely, and searching desperately for a way to escape without having to suffer the old fear of societal consequences for being openly racist. The demons are out of Pandora’s underground box now, and all of this racist unrest today is the once imprisoned American racism released and trying to find its voice again in a world they hope will be more sympathetic to their racism. For the American racist, life is good once again.

    The next time you see a group of white people gathered where a political discussion has something to do with race, look carefully around the room. Most of the heads in that room will be gray-headed white people in their 60s, 70, and 80s—and they will be there because—and I have seen this first-hand here in Tennessee—their Christian and nonChristian parents RAISED THEM to believe that all black people are “niggers.” And you have to understand something about this older generation down south. In the American South of the 1800s and 1900s, momma and daddy were the most precious and vital creatures who ever lived in the hearts and minds of southern children. It did not matter that daddy dropped out of school in 6th grade, and it did not matter that momma was not very bright or that she had been a jailbird. If momma and daddy said something was right—then it was right—and no damned expert with a Ph.D. from New York, Chicago, Boston, or London had better ever contradict what momma and daddy said because they will be just plain wrong when they come up against momma and daddy. So if daddy says people with black skins are “niggers”—you can take that “fact” to the bank for the rest of your natural life.

    The good news, if you can call it that, is that this generation is about to enter the cemetery and not come back out of it again. When that day comes and all of them are dead, I think much of the racism problem in this country really will nearly end. I say “nearly” because there will always be the occasional sick puppy like Dylann Roof.

    • John. I know you do not quite know what to do with that post of mine above. I used the term “nigger” just to state the true flavor of those old times and the way people really thought and talked down south in the old days. The problem is really seated in the fact that no one wants to just sit down and talk about this stuff frankly. People just want to tip-toe around it and talk about it in polite euphemisms that avoid the hard realities of how things really were in the American South (and much of the rest of the country) at one time—and how they still are. The n-word is not a word I normally use—I hate it in fact—and it was used strictly as a literary and historical device in my post above. The things I said up there were rough and tough—but this is a rough and tough subject. The things I stated are things that I have actually seen, heard, and experienced in my 63 years of life down south.

  6. John, I grew up in a time and place where almost every boy from the age of 10 or 12 was given a gun, usually a 22 caliber rifle, for hunting/plinking. Nobody I know EVER shot anyone or even threatened to do so. I could walk through my small town with a rifle in hand and nobody thought it unusual. today a SWAT team would attack me.

    The problem is not guns, it is mentality. We have a sick society that does not respect the rights of others, kids are raised on violent video games and movies that show no moral guidelines. Legal gun owners are more law-abiding than the general population, including law enforcement officers. Criminals ALREADY ignore the laws. More laws will not change that. Address what causes people to act in violent ways, not which tools they choose to express their anger

    • Tennessee—my state—is the most “gunnified” state in the nation. Its nickname is “The State of Shooting Things,” and is sometimes used in movies. The leading cause of accidental death in Tennessee is automobile accidents. Do you know what the second leading cause is? It’s accidental gunshot wounds. If you ever bring a small child to Tennessee on vacation, and a neighbor of the people you are visiting offers to keep the kids for the evening while you go out on the town for some fun, the chances are VERY HIGH that the man of the house has a loaded handgun with the safety off on the nightstand right beside his bed. It will be in a location where one of your kids can easily find it and blow himself or herself to smithereens in a matter of seconds. Mark my word. I have lived 63 years in this state, and nearly every person I have ever known who owns a gun is careless with it. Been there. Seen that. Numerous times.

  7. Yes … and Amen!

    The problem is that no one will join the “conversation” unless one MUST (both “us”, as well as “THEM” ) !!! And so far, no one has been made to get involved.

    The way to ignite that “must” might be to take a page out of the M.L.King / M.K.Gandhi Playbook …. First the grass roots (us) must be so peacefully rowdy that THEY (The Powers that Be) are forced to do “Something”…

    Us … so up-front verbal, being photographed everywhere with signs repeating, over and over again some of those Questions that need answers — insisting that only answers
    will do — waging peace as the Quakers used to do, not only professing but being strictly and absolutely non-violent to back up our assertion .

    And if They get physically abusive in response to our “Call” for conversation, we go ubiquitous (perhaps viral if the Father so directs) with our response to their “bad manners” — i.e. well documented turning some of our many other cheeks.

    Organized — yes, it must be — but by mature believers who are not in it for their own glory. You (John) must have the beginnings of a nucleus of the same. Then release a couple of trial balloons and see if the Father is directing this call.

    If His Hand is in it, go forward as He leads … if It is not, then perhaps (as some mature Christians have already suggested) He has decided that Judgement alone is a sufficiently severe corrective for our condition.

  8. So let’s talk. Lets talk about the 56 million innocent lives lost to legal abortion in our country. When we devalue human life – we reap the consequences. When will we start speaking up about that.

  9. Actually we can make it easier and talk about the actual problem. Which is that people think it is okay to kill.

    Guns, knives, rocks, flags with bloody histories, religion. The list of symptoms is endless. And they don’t actually matter.

    What matters is that in THIS county we have people who believe, and who are raising their children to believe, that it’s okay to hate AND is okay to hate enough to kill.

    I don’t care if people hate. I CARE when people hate enough to strip a right, harm a person, or kill.

    The Charleston shooter hated and somehow he thought it was okay to kill. The people responsible for teaching him not to hate and not to kill GAVE HIM A GUN.

    The gun is not the bad thing. The parents and the shooter are the bad thing. The parents TAUGHT HIM that hating and killing is OK.

    And we, as a country seem to be terrified of demanding better out of parents.

    Until we knock THAT nonsense off, talking won’t help anything.

    That’s the root. Start there.

  10. The heart’s truth, John. Many wonderful pieces have been written on all these subjects, but they allow us to intellectualize and thereby distance ourselves from the problems they describe, and from our culpability. You speak the heart’s truth.
    The time for triangulation, if there ever was a time for such mendacity, is done. We are broken, and we must face ourselves with love, compassion, humility, and resolve. If South Africa can have a Truth and Reconciliation Hearing for the victims of Apartheid, if Canada one for its sins against its First Peoples, surely we can continue the conversation that our great prophets tried to start 50, 150, 250 years ago.

  11. Background Scripture for my SS lesson this morning is Amos ch 6. He is rebuking Israel for selfishness and not thinking of others. My computer is going to church this morning because your post today illustrates what Amos said in the 8th cent BC in today’s images. They really are not so different.

  12. How does a society fix the head problem with first fixing the heart problem? The problems we see in our country today are based on actions of individuals not the instruments used to destroy. As a society, are we not eroding Christianity in the name of tolerance?
    Or perhaps, will freedom eventually destroy itself?

  13. A month ago I happened to sit next to a man on an evangelistic mission. As we talked it became quite clear I did not, at all, agree with his beliefs. However, he spoke so respectfully and quietly listened to my beliefs that we were able to have a conversation. This week at a Methodist Annual Conference, a young clergy woman argued her petition so respectfully and humbly that, in my opinion, made the conference more receptive to passing her resolution, which will open the door to our discussion of these very important issues you have brought up. I totally agree we MUST begin to admit we are broken so we can begin the LONG process of addressing these issues and become a more healthy America. But only, I believe, if we resist what has been so popular and seems so ingrained, name calling, bullying, and subtle digs at others, or not so subtle. Humility and respectfulness are the only way forward.

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  16. John, thank you for highlighting this critical set of issues, and for focusing on the need for the silent majority to speak up and engage, or become a part of these festering problems through their silence. In response to Theodore’s comment, compare with World War One creating a bunch of Germans that were bitter, leading to WWII because there was inadequate follow-up to the end of WWI. Then, after WWII ended, follow-up was better and now Germany is one of the strongest, or the strongest country in Europe, and is deeply committed to democracy. The US certainly did not follow up on the desegregation laws in a way to truly end discrimination, and not surprisingly, the bias, the hatred are still around us. When there is injustice we need to address it, even if that turns some bitter. If we do the job well, then the bitterness will be minimized over time. The better job we do, the shorter that time span will be.

  17. Sometimes when there is an especially elephant in the room, we become so frightened that we go into shock and denial. We are presently a nation denial of its own violence problem and racism problem, domestic terrorism problem, all the above. By whatever name, the elephant is here and will not leave until we get past our denial and find a solution. We are ever watching but never seeing, ever listening but never hearing. Jesus called people like that out, and we must do the same. We cannot leave it up to our white-dominated churches, many of which are filled with blind guides who made little reference to Charleston today in their worship except in reference to a single sinner named Dylan. Our corporate sin remains unconfessed. We are a stubborn and unrepentant people. Let’s indeed talk with each other about all this, and let’s indeed talk to God about it. Love can do no less.

    • We failed to learn our lesson in 2008. The Holy Spirit told me that the “time of the burning splinters is coming.” Fascinating stuff. I am just not sure what it means.

  18. What if we have the discussion and we don’t like how it turns out – what our communities decide about guns or the battle flag…

  19. I have found that society’s racial discussion is or has been dealt crippling blows during and after small group discussion , groups comprised of at least 2 or more genders and ethnicities , everyone must participate and each group should contain a maximum of 12 people and 1 facilitator who should be of the group but not in the group . No topic should be off limits . Interruptions must be limited to seeking clarification and assisting each other in the art of communication and remaining focused . Managers and supervisors had better set this type of discussion / training up and allow it to take place , in the work place and ensure they are paid normal wages while these discussions take place and new Facilitators become proficient and These talks actually do take place in CA within the film industry Ny city NY Wall Street needs this as well as the Auto industry , coco cola and John Deere factory’s Big pharmaceuticals as well as Apple etc etc then maybe in 2 or 3 years as this training spreads acros the land , maybe we can begin too be forward as a Nation. – (Robert E White , US ARMY RET 1SG)

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  21. John –

    On June 18th, I posted this on my Facebook page and didn’t get many “Likes”; actually, I only got two.

    ====
    A Rant about Charleston and “the Charleston”

    More than likely, on Sunday, around the country, Evangelical pastors who “won’t touch” the issues of police brutality will decry the tragedy happening in Charleston, SC.

    There will be prayer and sermons; there will be vigils; there will be floods of support pouring into Charleston, because “good people” were shot to death, because, regardless of their skin color, they are “like us” – they were Christians too.

    Yet, today’s mostly segregated Evangelical churches refuse to address issues of race relations, racial disparity, racial discrimination.

    Today’s Evangelical churches have no problem railing about abortion, gay marriage, homosexuality from their pulpits, receiving hearty Amens from their congregations. Oh, but let them boldly decry the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police and they will receive a backlash like never before. “Christians” will write letters, send emails, be mortified, and leave the church for a church that doesn’t preach about “those people”, “those killings”, “those issues”.

    How dare those who call themselves “Christians” be choosy when it comes to human suffering. How dare we choose which people to love. How dare we proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but get pissy when anyone talks about ‪#‎whitepriviledge‬.
    ====

    I did get a few comments from those with #whiteprivilege, and yup, they were pissy.

    This just saddens me that there are so many “churched people” who just don’t get it and refuse to try to get it.

    Nicole Paul

    • Maybe the reason is because the fundies are right on one thing—maybe the only thing—only a very small percentage of the members in any church are really Christians. The rest are just there because going to church on Sunday was a tradition mommy and daddy had—and they just go out of habit. I have seen appalling ignorance of Jesus in church people.

  22. I hope you will make a small correction now that the information is out that the shooter’s parents did NOT buy him a gun. They gave him birthday money and he purchased it himself, passing all federal background checks required.

    And…in regards to manipulative media and the cost of laying blame/remaining silent, why do you not include Boston, Fort Hood, and the beach in Libya?
    Because I agree there are things that must be discussed. But let’s REALLY declare all things on the table.

    • Yes, and one of the posters above indicated the Roof’s parents taught him to be racist. That too is a piece of information I have not heard in any news report—meaning I am skeptical.

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  24. No agenda?? You invite discussion?? I can tell from the tone of your article that your mind is already made up. I don’t sense any tolerance on your part for another point of view, even though you say you want to discuss. I’ve found it impossible to have a discussion with someone with a progressive point of view. They are intolerant, damning me for wanting to have a conversation with a different point of view. I’m a white, southern, proud of my confederate heritage, gun-carrying, highly educated woman and don’t think that Fox is any better than NBC news. I read both. What a ridiculous article. When you REALLY want have dialogue, let me know. I need to be ashamed of being white? I need to be ashamed of making a good living and taking of my family and thinking other people should do the same? Why should I have to give my heard-earned money to people unable or unwilling to improve their lot in life. I’m proud my ancestors were Irish. Did you not notice all the people at the Church in Charleston were black? They like worshiping together with the same people of their culture. Some deranged, crazy kid killed some people because he thought that was the way to begin the “healing”. By the way, I have plenty of hard-working black (not African) and gay friends and acquaintances. I’m still confused about what you think needs to be talked about. Black people kill white people, too. Just happens.

    • I’m a white, highly educated, gun-carrying woman, too (though, not southern). I think there does need to be discussion. I think it starts with us losing our defensiveness and actually listening, with open hearts for one thing. I know how hard that is. It was for me. I used to get so angry when people mentioned white privilege, like you, assuming they meant I was supposed to be ashamed of being white or that they were implying I didn’t work for every damn dime I have. But neither of those things is true. Really. (And, frankly, “privilege” is a poor word choice for its intended meaning.) I’ve done a lot of research, poured over statistics and history (because that’s what we highly educated women DO when confronted with an emotionally charged situation), and my paradigm has tremendously shifted. I recommend it.
      I wrote this post and there are some links you may find helpful in your research: http://taralakes.com/2015/06/24/i-killed-nine-people/
      It may be a good place to start. Blessings to you in your search for truth!

    • Sandra,
      In your pronouncement that you’re a “white, southern, proud of my confederate heritage, gun-carrying, highly educated woman”, you draw a line in the sand, declaring that your mind is closed on all the issues that matter here.

      You go on to say: “I need to be ashamed of being white? I need to be ashamed of making a good living and taking of my family and thinking other people should do the same? Why should I have to give my heard-earned money to people unable or unwilling to improve their lot in life. I’m proud my ancestors were Irish. Did you not notice all the people at the Church in Charleston were black? They like worshiping together with the same people of their culture.”

      You’ve made crystal clear that you consider this post a personal attack on you and your way of life. It’s impossible to have a genuine conversation with someone who’s decided their views and way or life are absolutely right and anyone who believes differently is wrong.

      If you really have plenty of gay and black friends, I suggest you ask them to look at your comment here and let you know what they think. You might be surprised by the result.

      • So, I looked around this blog and still see that most writers have an agenda. Tara, I appreciate your comments that do not come with a chip on your shoulder. I’ll look at the link you suggested.

        Chris, I appreciate your comments as well. However, If you look at most of the comments, including the original post, with an open mind, you may have a different perspective. I have talked to my gay and black friends. My black friends, admittedly, I only have a couple, work hard, take care of their families, and are proud of their black, southern heritage. My gay friends, (I have 3 – women), don’t have a chip on their shoulder, understand that children shouldn’t have to grow up being hit in the face with sexual issues, think their Minister should be male, and don’t walk around looking for special treatment – no chip on their shoulder. I guess I’m trying to say that the image portrayed by the media isn’t necessarily accurate.

    • Sandra here is the part that is difficult for me to understand your comment and I must admit get through. You sound so angry and judgmental in your statements. “No agenda?? You invite discussion?? I can tell from the tone of your article that your mind is already made up. I don’t sense any tolerance on your part for another point of view, even though you say you want to discuss. I’ve found it impossible to have a discussion with someone with a progressive point of view.” I think you are projecting onto John how you
      are actually being. I think a step in the process of having an open conversation is having one about poverty and the impact it has on the individual and the families. I studied poverty especially regarding the black community and it is not as simple as “pulling yourself up by your boot straps”. We are talking about how this country (whites which includes me as well) have done certain things to keep the black community from truly getting equal with us. And not only did I study poverty in the black community but I have worked closely with families who live it every damn day. Every day there are things that work against them to change the situation they live in. And I don’t think really that anybody “needs” to feel guilty or apologize for being white. I think being willing to have our eyes and heart opened to actually see our system puts up barriers instead of opportunities for them especially the youth. Oh, and by the way I am a lesbian who has raised three lovely adopted black children and this doesn’t include my “unofficially adopted children”

      • I’m not angry, just frustrated that people spend so much time discussing this topic. The entitlement and victim environment that some black people live in, particularly in urban areas, isn’t useful to help them rise above their existence. The black community needs to step it up, the black men need to raise their children to be strong and independent, and to love their mothers. I think one thing that others can do to help is to mentor the children to stay out of trouble, study hard, and work for what they get. I know that isn’t easy to do, but “dumbing down” society, especially education, only hurts all of us. Most of the black people I know work hard, raise good, well-mannered children and are respectful and kind, just like all of us aspire to be. I just think we should focus on that. That may come across as a “pollyanna” comment, but the whole world can’t be saved and I just hope I can take care of my part of it – my family, friends and the people I encounter each day.

  25. There is only one solution…so simple, so easy, so healing, so wonderful….
    Love …It may sound trite, but it covers all the concerns stated above.
    Love and respect all life forms. Love and respect the earth, the air, and the water.
    Know that as a conscious human you have a conscience that lets you FEEL what is right and wrong and with that comes a responsibility to do right.
    Fight your inner greed, you probably have enough to be charitable to those who don’t.
    Question the propaganda that tells you what to believe, what to eat, what to wear, who is a good guy and who is a bad guy. THINK FOR YOURSELF.

    • If you are speaking about me, why do I need to fight my inner greed? Why can’t I enjoy what I have worked so hard for and use it for things I find useful and joyful and help my family instead of strangers? Why do you think you have the answer more than I do? How do you know that I don’t question the propaganda? How do I know that you do? As you can see from these other posts, I don’t think anyone thinks for herself more than I do.

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  27. Pingback: Why We’re Going To Talk About Racism and Guns and Flags and Privilege… Now. | Pots, Pans and Proverbs

  28. It’ll be all but forgotten in a few weeks. Lovely poetry and formatting and all that but there’s the reality of it. As far as I can tell “talking” simply means you telling me (generically speaking) what is right and wrong.

  29. Trying again: now that the information has come out that his father did NOT buy the shooter the gun, but purchased it himself using money given to him for his birthday, and passed all required background checks, will you change that in your post?

    Also, when talking of “biased media outlets and polarizing pundits and opportunistic politicians” and the cost of silence, why did you not put Boston and Fort Hood and the beach of Libya on the table as well?

  30. John and Friends,
    Seeing as we are all pretty much of one accord, might we begin to consider what to DO about it … what we might be able to team up and do together that might force the Powers That Be to seek the peaceful compromise needed and desired by nearly everyone everywhere rather than promoting this dreadful expanding spasm of civil discord, all of which serves their own political purposes and future personal benefit only, and comes at the expense of nearly everyone, everywhere.
    This is your house, John, and we are gathered here around your Table. Might you help to guide us from talking here amongst ourselves, and learning in the process to compromise with each other, to a place where we might take prayerful and counseled action that could have the result of bringing the benefits of our experience in the practice, to a larger congregation who’s opportunity to learn compromise for themselves is being stolen from them whilest their attention is being diverted by the antics of a prostituted media.

  31. Awesome article. Freedom of speech. Freedom of action. Refuse to shut up. Refuse to be shut up. Refuse to coerce others. Refuse to be coerced by others.

    Other topics to add to your list – abortion, the bankrupt and ever more coercive welfare state, the ever more shrill culture of victimhood.

  32. Well said! I love how you have basically said that silence is a stance & a dangerous one at that. I wholeheartedly agree. Keeping quiet, people think they are “minding their business” but it is the allowance for things to remain the same & things cannot stay this way. We really need to work towards a healing solution. Awesome post!

  33. John, most of your responders are finger-pointers. Some are Pharisees. A few, like Lauren Miller, are sincerely talking. The “talk” that we need to speak and that we [myself included] avoid goes something like this: “Let me tell you about what’s wrong with me, about my attitudes, my prejudices, about what makes me feel threatened. And you tell me yours.” It’s hard. Try it?

  34. Has anyone noticed how we are talking about “talking about it,” but we are not really talking about those things. What’s the problem people?

    We need to talk about racism,
    and gun violence,
    and manipulative media,
    and Confederate flags,
    and partisan politics,
    and white privilege,
    and religious extremism,
    and mental health.

    Mention “abortion” and “gay marriage” and the whole nation would descend on this blog with comments. Kind of pitiful ain’t it?

  35. I loved this. One of my closest friends is white and we have been trying to have this conversation the last few years, always gets a little emotional/heater.. but it needs to be had.

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  37. Dover 1952 and Tablemates all,

    Perhaps “Talking about it” is a bit of code language for “listening carefully to your ‘opponent’ and trying to suggest something that both sides might be able to agree upon … attempting to sidetrack the “debate” and trying to substitute the ‘search for compromise’ in its place.”

    If we were to look back over our lives, how many compromises has any of us ever seen that came out of a “who struck John” debate about who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong? If not many, what is the result that does usually follow? If this way has not won the day for The Way, what way can we think of that regularly does?

    Perhaps there might be a clue in the process of nuptial conversation which Our Father gave us guys and gals as a little OJT in the art of compromise: Does not the one that knows that he is the closest to a successful completion of his share in the intent of the meeting find it in the interest of all parties for him to attend primarily to her successful take home, letting his come along in due course, as it most usually does, particularly as the rhythm of the compromise becomes clear to both.

    How then might this play out In the world of Government and Politics into which I seem to be suggesting that some of us Tablemates, with the blessing of the Table itself, might consider plunging for a season?

    I see us putting the case — cases !! — Calls for Getting Real that John has been making ever since I fell into the blog and couldn’t get out — Calls for real talk about real issues in such public focus that it begins, for starters, to rope both sides of the Racism & Privilege debate into a little circle around a Table where we might, just might, help to demonstrate a vigorous sort of compromise on our part that could become infectious.

    It could happen! If He sends a delegation of Tablemates into the fray, He might very well make it so.

  38. Reblogged this on theavalonsyndicate and commented:
    I reblog this for two reasons. One dialogue is at the heart of my ethics. IDIC (infinite diversity in infinite combinations).
    two what use is the principle of IDIC if i cannot occasionally agree with the sentiments of those i disagree with

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  40. Hi, John. I’m late to this conversation. I just saw it in my rarely checked Twitter feed.

    Thank you for a brilliant essay. Your post is the best statement I’ve seen on what America needs to discuss and why. This discussion has already started but we’ve drawn battle lines (for the most part) rather than opening ourselves to genuine engagement. I hope that changes.

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