This morning, I could write about the sickness of gun culture. I could write about the incompetent presidential administration. I could write about another nation working to sew discord in ours. I could write about yet another white mass murderer captured alive. I could write about politicians who value job security over lives. I could write about many things for many people…
But today, I’m writing specifically to the people of color in my chosen faith tradition of Unitarian Universalism asking us all to invest in better direct communication with one another. I believe that we are uniquely positioned to lead the change that the world needs to embrace. We have the creativity, the diverse and divergent views that don’t abandon each other in crisis and frankly we have the trans-generational resilience to stick it out, however long the struggle takes. If we want to see a healthier world, it must begin somewhere and I believe it can begin with us.
I am a casual student of the history of war. I am fascinated by the human desire to destroy the one thing that we all share…life. In that study, I have learned that the primary difference between warfare before WWI and afterward was the proximity of combat. WWI was the first widespread use of weaponry that allowed for anonymous killing. Machine guns, more powerful rifles, advanced bombing techniques and air power allowed mass killing to be faceless. Although there were plenty of horrifically deadly conflicts prior to “The Great War” none had previously been so impersonal.
As I see it, the latest iteration of that anonymous battlefield has become social media.
My personal prayer is that Unitarian Universalist people of color learn to lead the way in detoxifying our own discourses, de-emphasizing the veil of social media and remembering that if it can be said on a smartphone through Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, it can also be said by dialing someone’s number and talking directly to them. And even if it is not about talking in real time, or face to face, we can at least work to recapture the art of deep listening in social media spaces. I am not “calling out” any specific situation or person/people. I have been wrestling with this for a few years now. What is more, I also acknowledge that everyone has different ways of communicating for any number of reasons both physical and technological. But none of us can afford to forget that people of color have already had their faces and their identities too frequently erased by the dominant culture. It does none of us any good to be doing it to ourselves whether it be by shutting each other down, shutting each other out, or shutting each other up. We have an opportunity to model the multi-cultural, interfaith world that everyone else just talks about as a pipe dream. But we must actually be in conversation with each other in order to do so.
Starve the sickness of self-righteousness; feed the fever of love.