Covid quarantine has given me lots of time to listen, to think and to read and in so doing begin to shape a philosophy for the last years of my life. A favorite Spiritual author, Richard Rohr, quoted: “As we experience discomfort in this time, let’s begin to dream of a new normal, a new normal that addresses the weaknesses and problems that were going unaddressed in the old normal. If we’re wise, we won’t go back; we’ll go forward.” —Brian McLaren.
McLaren addresses our thoughts on the “new normal”. We can’t go back to what was and everything we experience changes us. How comfortable will any of us feel walking through huge crowds of people, for example? Or attending sporting events like the State Basketball tournaments in Montana? Church worship is being tweaked to better meet the needs of people who don’t want to sit shoulder to shoulder in the pew anymore. In meeting the needs of friends, neighbors and family we will have to adjust and not just assume our way is the only way. Loving, sharing and caring requires us to follow the old saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” It is a two-way street.
Visiting with a friend of the same age recently we observed that as we came to adulthood in the 1960s we were surrounded and influenced by the Civil Rights leaders of the Black Rights movement of that time. Our eyes were opened to “Jim Crow” laws, separate drinking fountains, restaurants, swimming pools and bathrooms. There were people who still tried to tell us that it was a “separate, but equal” nation. Just read the book “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett to quickly dispel that myth. But there was a beginning and my formative years were part of that time.
Now we are moving into Phase Two of the Civil Rights movement when the laws that were passed and the promises made must be fulfilled. My own perceptions need some upgrading as well. I am struggling with the meaning of “systemic racism” and what that means on a personal level. The other day I was writing something and I used the words “black and white” to mean “right and wrong”. I stopped as I realized that statement meant that anyone who was black is being told they were “wrong”. White is good, black is not. Sitting back I thought long and hard about my own mental wiring. Many of us have said, “I am not a racist.” No, you are not. But we have to remember that by virtue of being white skinned — something we can’t help — we are privileged and people look at us differently than someone who is black or brown-skinned. It cannot be helped. It is the way we are wired.
So, how do we re-wire. Through prayer; long, thoughtful moments of inner examination; and open, truthful discussions with family and friends.
I don’t know where to start or what to say.
First I will listen/read/watch. I will speak against injustice.
I don’t want to get it wrong or get called out.
I will make mistakes. No doubt about it. I will be grateful for the lesson.
It won’t make a difference what I do. Nothing is going to change.
Things happen when I take risks and become part of something bigger.
I don’t get involved in politics. I don’t have time.
This is a human rights issue. This matters so I will make time.