Preparing the Ground for Peace

It’s amazing how hard this work is to hear. Incredibly sobering to think I am called to help teach it.

Because they’re making no mistake about this. If I’m here, they’re clear, I’m here to do the work.

Yesterday was a challenging day for all of us. I knew going in, of course I did, that I was going to be confronting my privilege. I don’t know if my Black colleagues understood how very challenged they and their work would be.

At the end of the day there were a lot of headaches and and heartaches.

Tell, us, you say…

The  broth isn’t cooked yet, I can tell you that. It hasn’t clarified. I believe that what will result will be health-giving. For me. For the social service directors I’m in class with. For our communities. And I believe it will set up a fire in our bellies to do the work.

But in the meantime the chopping, slicing and dicing is laborious. Yesterday my Black colleagues had to deal with the fact that the in addition to the pain they felt as they’re disregarded in their work is only part of the picture. They also sat through hearing that the work they’re doing may be, by its very nature, damaging rather than helpful to the constituents they work with. The trainers’ argument was compelling enough that no one was really thinking the trainers were wrong… It just makes you tired… and sad.

There was lunch eating with kind, but confrontational women. Even with the best of intentions, we often miss the point. Or at least I do.

And after lunch the work was about White folk… You couldn’t have listened to the morning’s talks and not known this was coming.  It was about the privilege we have at every moment of the day conferred upon us by a system built upon people’s being one down.

My work this weekend, so far, has just been to stay open, to try and hear what’s being said. To hear the critical analysis. To hear the way the world impacts people of color. To hear the pain of these highly educated, well-paid, very talented executives.

And then to allow myself to feel my own sorrow, to see my unconscious acceptance, and to not let any of that stop me from being part of a group who does things to make a difference.

To recognize that I’m only a Peacemaker when I’m making Peace for everyone. I’m only a Peacemaker when I’m waking up, stepping up to the hard work of social action. When I’m creating not only the beloved community, but the just one. No Justice, no Peace, Bob Marley told us. I’ve sung it… have I ever really listened to the words? or listened to my heart after the words? we need to… the world needs us.



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