Stuck In The Middle With You

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We are in the middle of some turbulent times. You might say, “The Times, They are A’Changing!” Click to hear Bob Dylan sing. And in the middle of change, everything looks like failure and chaos. Until God speaks again over the chaos and helps us to find our way to peace, justice, love, and freedom; we have some work to do!  So right, left, and everyone in the middle, just some thoughts.

To my people on the right; I love you! You may be sick of hearing it, but “white privilege” is a thing. As white people, we have things better, we have an advantage, even here in America the “land of opportunity!” We have got to notice and understand, and realize that people that don’t look like us are not getting the same rights that we take for granted. And no one is being a whiny snowflake for calling it out!

As a woman, I face things that men will never understand. We’re not even talking about waxing, here!  It just a fact.  As a woman alone, I have to be concerned when I go to an unfamiliar place where there are men that I don’t know. I need look like I take no s**t but to not be too bold or too friendly, because that may send the wrong message and I may find myself in a compromising situation. When I have been alone and stopped by a police officer on a dark road somewhere, I have experienced a flutter in my heart that a man never would. A twinge of fear that a male officer of questionable character, may take advantage of my vulnerability.

African Americans face things every day that I will never understand because I am white. I see and recognize that there is a real threat to the black community from police in some communities. Does acknowledging that automatically say that police officers are bad? No of course not: I love and respect police officers for the amazing, terrifying, and thankless jobs they do. But are there officers that are racist, prejudiced, sexist, and just not good people? Yes! Because they are people, for God’s sake!

Black Lives Matter IN NO WAY says that other lives don’t matter! Please, please, please, hear me say that! It isn’t “either/or” but “both/and.” Seriously, if you look at our history at all, you can see that we still need to come a long way. So when a black football player protests a system that seems to devalue the lives of young black men, he has a right to do that in this country. We might all consider taking a knee.

Which brings me to another topic: patriotism. Patriotism comes in many colors, shapes, and types. But there is a difference between patriotism and nationalism. I heard it defined this way: “A patriot is proud of their country for what it does. A nationalist is proud of their country no matter what it does.”

Let’s not be nationalists. When our country begins to act in ways contrary to every ideal on which we were founded, we the people have a right (a duty!) to protest, resist, and reclaim. Look at how this country was formed!

Defending immoral and unjust leaders regardless of what they do, does not make us “patriots.” It makes us “nationalists.” It’s the difference between the way a 1st grader loves their dad and a grown adult loves their dad. When we are young, our dads are “heroes” who can “beat up anyone else’s dad.” To our young eyes and hearts our dads are flawless. When we become adults, we understand that our dads are human, they made mistakes, they have flaws.  As adults, we still love our dads—sometimes much more deeply for knowing the things they overcame! But we don’t fool ourselves.

To my people on the left; I love you! You are awesome; fighting for rights and standing for the marginalized! Fighting for animals and for Mother Earth. What I’ve noticed is that sometimes people want to make their point so badly, they will alienate the very people that are starting to come over to their side. It happened to me. I was starting to get “woke” about a lot of stuff, and yet, I was lambasted by some people from the far left who wouldn’t accept any movement I made, unless it was the “full monty.” And that just does not make sense. Because I am not the enemy. I am coming over to your side, at least trying to, and what you do pushes me away. Maybe dial it back a little. I understand that “political correctness” is actually just being kind to one another, but we can go overboard on being offended when no offense was meant.

I remember a conversation in seminary with a male African American classmate. He was talking about a church not wanting him because they “weren’t ready” for a black pastor. I heard him and shared that it sucked that we were still there. I said that as a woman pastor, churches “weren’t ready” for me either. Afterward he called me aside and made it clear that I really shouldn’t have entered that conversation because I didn’t understand his story. I was hurt and confused. I wasn’t saying it was the same thing, I was trying to make a step toward compassion and I got shot down.  I realized that this is a lot of what goes on with dialog about our hurtful past. Please be careful not to shoot the people coming to the table, no matter how slow their steps.

We are stuck in the middle with one another. Let’s keep our hearts open to compassion and understanding. And, for God’s sake; let’s keep our sense of humor!

Sue Corley    September 4, 2017

 

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