The news of our times can be highly depressing: too much division and constant examples of dehumanization. Yet is an ages-old narrative.
As I find myself being more aware of its scope, I continue searching for answers. I most often find them not in myself – but in the hearts, souls and wisdom of friends who have lived these realities their whole lives.
I am a work in progress: a white male with all sorts of privilege, but one who has not lost a sense of empathy which is part of my core DNA. My heart hurts for humanity when I see what we are doing to each other. It can seem be hopeless. It can seem irreconcilable. Yet, as my wise brothers and sisters profess: our collective pain can reside in places of greater understanding, if we’re willing to learn and grow.
My latest set of lessons from some of my greatest teachers have come in a weekly “Doctrine of Discovery Learning Lab,” facilitated by Lenore Three Stars and offered by Immanuel Church in Spokane, Washington.
It is painful to learn more fully about the myriad facets of how we have systemically mistreated – and brutally attempted to assimilate –indigenous people (and other marginalized populations) through our history. It’s by asking the question, “What I can do with this lament?” that has caused me to dig deeper and seek wise counsel from some of our greatest teachers, both locally and nationally.
There is no more powerful voice who speaks to me on this subject than the Rev. Canon Dr. Esau Macaulley, theologian, priest, and author of Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope (InterVarsity Press). It was while recently reading another IVP publication that a piece by Dr. Macaulley, adapted from a Christianity Today article in 2018, articulated what I hold to be true:
“Too often when we think of reconciliation it is others joining the majority culture on the political, cultural, and social terms set by the majority. But Christ did not come so that we might all be assimilated, but so that we might be reconciled. Reconciliation demands that the majority culture listen to their brothers and sisters of color and act on the concerns that they raise.”“The Palms, the Temple, and the Nations,” (Christianity Today, 2018)
Our job is to listen. To each other. Trying to put aside our biases, conscious and unconscious. Much of what we have learned needs to be unlearned, taught to us by systems that programmed us with a false narrative. As we look to the future, we need to look to each other, and to whatever higher power guides our lives. That is my prayer for us.