Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dismantling Racism Part 3: Pray Don't Prey

I'm pretty sure this was not meant to happen, because when I stopped to take the pictures, there was a place behind the skeleton of the barn where some new construction had begun. Later, I saw some men there, but I was in a hurry, so next time, I will ask them'

Either way, it fell.

I'd been standing inside it a week earlier taking pictures and wondering about what it meant to "dismantle" racism. 

You can see in the picture below the new lumber to the left..again, maybe that was part of the process of deconstruction, and perhaps they were harvesting all the wood they could harvest before pulling it down. It reminded me of stories I'd always heard growing up of "the old barn" that was on our property and which my dad, with some other men and a few tractors, pulled down so that we, his three kids, wouldn't be endangered playing in it.

He used the good barn wood to make a desk, tables, and some other beautiful things that remain in our family. They are treasures today.

So, dismantling racism. As we pass the 50th anniversary of MLK's death, I think it's fair to say that no one has the answer, or we would not be in the place we are in today. There are all kinds of people who think they have the answer(s) and who are very loud, boisterous, and insistent about them.

Last week, the denomination I've served for 23 years published a report written by a Commission appointed to look into what they call the "Hiring Practices Controversy". Feel free to read if you like dirty laundry, but long story short, our President resigned, our Moderator died, and two or three white male staff members also quit after accusations of unfairness and white supremacy in hiring of a regional staff member. 

Our denomination is in turmoil. People are talking past each other, accusations are flying, and, worst of all, there seems to be no safe space to discuss anything without being shamed or shouted down. There is, it seems, an "official" position which shall not be questioned. So why even have a commission? The Commission has been funded at almost $500,000.  More on all of that here.I hope for and expect some great results.

I struggle with this, not because I mistrust the sincerity and good will of the Commission members, but because I do not understand how to explain half a million dollars allocated to this study when I was turned away by every UUA official I requested help from in my work with a local rural African American woman whose husband has been incarcerated for almost a year waiting to be deported to Mexico. (Their story is in the fundraiser on this blog). I didn't ask for money; only for help sharing the plea. How do I face this family when my denomination claims to support undocumented immigrants and poor Black families and tell her they could do nothing? (By the way, the UUSC did provide resources and connections for us). This is exactly what conservatives talk about when they criticize liberal hypocrisy. This is why Black communities trust white liberals the least of all! 

I may be wrong, since I've been disconnected from denominational activities for the past year or so, but I know how we do things. If I weren't already a Unitarian Universalist, I would run, not walk, away from them as quickly as I could. They sound and look like a group of people trying to use will, intellect and ego to force results. Rather than going out into the world with prayerful reflection and open hearts, we've chosen to look inward and point fingers at one another with accusations of white supremacy.

This all brings to mind the Serenity Prayer, which might be a good start. (God) grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I guess what I'm suggesting is that it might be helpful for us to do more praying and less preying (on one another).

And, as Carl Jung brilliantly told the founder of AA, lasting sobriety would never be possible without a spiritual conversion. And I think this is the true problem that my denomination is not addressing. Racism is not just a structural problem, it is a soul sickness that requires a deep spiritual reckoning and repentance, something many liberal religionists have no language nor ritual for.

This week I heard some talk about how what's missing from the movement against racism is a "leader like MLK." I disagree with that. One has only to look at the success of the gay marriage lobby or what appears to be the burgeoning movement by young people for sensible gun legislation to see that movements today can be spontaneous, organic and can reach a point of saturation and success without charismatic leaders.

This is the science of Appreciative Inquiry.

I don't understand why we (UUs) aren't using AI (Appreciative Inquiry)in this process.It involves raising up what is best, innovation and creativity which evolve based upon the positive core value. It has its scientific basis in quantum theory. I know it is hard to sustain in organizations, because I have tried it with one church, that reverted back continually to Newtonian thinking*. But at another congregation, which grasped AI, change and innovation were welcomed.

When I think of places where oppression and discrimination have been effectively addressed, I can see that it happened because diligent, positive, dedicated and creative work came to a tipping point. It's how things like recycling, smoke-free buildings, breastfeeding, and so many more major developments and shifts in cultural awareness have come about.

Racism has a grip on our culture, and white privilege is real. It's endemic. We have to relearn everything we thought we knew. We can do it! We've done things as hard as this before. We have poets, teachers, brilliant writers, and so many good people who can unlearn white privilege. It may happen slowly at first, but just like we saw with the Stoneman Douglas rallies, there may come a sudden cataclysmic moment when the last vestiges of it crash to the ground. I believe this can happen. Not by shaming or blaming one another, but by loving and believing in the goodness of each other, the God-ness in one another.

And from the remnants, some thing beautiful and precious may be created.

Newtonian World View
  • Universe as Great Machine
  • Focus on Parts
  • One Right Answer
  • Predictable
  • Linear
  • Duality (This or That)
  • Objective
  • Value Things
  • Competition
  • Doing Creates
  • Single Reality
  • Material Focus
  • Separation
  • Autonomy
  • Make It Happen
  • Resist Change
  • Matter is made up of “Things”
  • Scientific World View
  • Study of Physical Matter
  • Control
  • Particles of Atoms
  • Finite

Quantum World View
  • Universe as Great Thought
  • Focus on Whole
  • Many Paths
  • Random
  • Non-Linear
  • Wholism (This and That)
  • Subjective
  • Value Relationships
  • Cooperation
  • Consciousness Creates
  • Multiple Realities
  • Spiritual Focus
  • Interconnection
  • Synergy
  • Allow It to Happen
  • Embrace Change
  • Matter is “Bundles of Energy in Relationship”
  • Consciousness World View
  • Study of Consciousness
  • Participation
  • Fields of Energy
  • Infinite