I came across this today. If this posts correctly and you click on the picture of Chuck Heston it should take you to the Twitter thread. This is a series of 25 posts and it is rather fascinating and it will make you think.
The pluralistic.net link takes you elsewhere. My focus here is on the Twitter Thread.
“We create systems to make things easier.” – Andre Henry
This is a revisit to a post made back in July of 2020.
Now past Election Day it is worth taking a few moments to contemplate how everyday our lives are made better or less better by all of the systems we are a part of.
There are natural systems and human created systems. We can sometimes alter natural systems through our actions and creations. The systems I am most interested in are those we created. They were all created to solve a problem.
We like systems which make our lives better and we do not like the ones which make life more difficult. Understand those we do not particularly care for were put in place by other people to make their lives easier. Some systems I suppose are Zero Sum in nature. For a system to work enough people have to agree about its structure.
I could write from now until the end of time about systems but mostly I want us to think about them and take a hard look at the origins of those we are all a part of. I want us to think about the good and the bad. Think about why these systems exist, who they are for and the problems they were created to solve.
The only time my sister heard my Father say the N word was on October 3, 1995. It was the day OJ Simpson was acquitted and the first time I heard of this was today, twenty five years later. They were watching the news and she remembers him saying, “That N…. got away with it.” My father was white and had just retired after 40 years of being a minister.
There is so much packed into this one short outburst. Here was a man who spent his life preaching the message of Jesus and telling how he came to earth in human form to save everyone. I would not call Dad a racist but I do not think he understood the reality of racism, white supremacy and white privilege. It is a bit surprising because when I went through his files after his death I found hundreds of magazine and newspaper clippings on the subjects of race, politics, sex and many other topics. I believe he was searching for understanding, insight and answers. He considered it is job as a minister to know what was going on in the world outside of his church walls.
I’m just putting this out here for anyone to see as I work through this. It is important to understand.
America has a racism problem so deep we can’t see it in ourselves. Recently a friend on the East Coast posted his review of “HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST” by Ibram X. Kendi. I referred him to another book, “me and white supremacy” written by Layla F. Saad. Note – I used the Upper and Lower Case for the titles as they are printed on the book covers.
Next on my reading list is Robin Diangelo’s “White Fragility.” She grew up poor and white. I’ve held this book at arm’s length for a while because I wanted to hear from black people first about their experiences with racism.
After tackling Kendi’s book I need to go back and read “me and white supremacy” with a new perspective and with a greater commitment to go deeper. Saad’s book is a workbook. Each day it takes you further into the reality of racism and it asks the reader to reflect and journal about many hard truths. It is in my opinion written for a white reader and for the white reader. It is a book written so the reader can self examine.
Diangelo’s book is about “Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.” If you have not dipped your toe in the water on this subject perhaps her book is the best place to start especially if you personally are not convinced about racism in America. Although I’ve not read the book I know she is respected by many in the black community and is considered an ally.
Now I will tell you up front, when you google these authors there are plenty of opinions trying to tear apart their message. All I can say is these books are out there, available to you.
“We create systems to make things easier.” – Andre Henry
I’m thinking about all the systems in our lives. There are many. We live in them, we create them, we work in them and they are inside of us.
The more time I spend contemplating and studying the systems in my life, in our society and in the world the more I realize the vastness of this topic. With this in mind I am inviting anyone into a conversation about systems. This could be in the form of an e-mail exchange or scheduled and occasional Zoom Meetings.
What is your understanding of systems? What systems do you recognize having significant influence in your life? There are these and many other questions we can have an exchange about.
System, this is a word we use quite a bit yet we most likely do not give it enough thought. I am betting the more we ponder over this word and what it means to us individually and as a society it will make for a rich conversation.
Do you want to start a conversation with me on this topic? Let me know in the comment section.
Look in the mirror. This is where the real work of change starts. I stand looking at myself. I did not choose the family I was born into. I did not choose the color of my skin. Did not choose where I was born or the economics of my birth. I was born free. None of these things defined me when I was born, they were simply the circumstances of my birth. It truly does not matter now. Today is what today is and the person in the mirror is the sum of millions of little decisions along the way.
Who is my family? Who are my friends? What am I a part of? What do I choose?
In the mirror I see someone who is profoundly human yet just one of billions. My work is in the mirror. I may only have one tomorrow but I know I have today. And the mirror only reflects today. This is where the real work of change starts.
I do not know Jim Lane. He is the Associate Pastor of Hope Covenant Church. My much loved cousin Paul Thompson pastored Hope Covenant for a short time before cancer took him from us. From time to time I check in online to see how Hope is doing and to listen to a sermon if the topic seems interesting. With the country in protest I was curious about the message for June 7, 2020.
This is about as raw a message I’ve heard of late. Jim is openly struggling with his own inadequacies to address the hate of racism. He also knows there are some members of the congregation who will be offended by the message.
I am a vocal critic of the shortcomings of the Christian Church. At the same time there are those messages coming from some corners of our country worth listening to. In my humble opinion this is one of them.
We need to listen to black people to understand their pain and suffering. This message will encourage you to do this. It will encourage you to start to do the work we all need to do in our lives and our hearts.
My bike tires start rolling, a right then a left and I slip off the steep hill. Less than two minutes and I’m in the village. It is quiet with a few people wandering about in not much of a hurry. They don’t desire to be back in their quarantine homes either. The village is small and the stores mostly empty. Nothing to see today, nothing to stop for and nobody I know to give a smile to. My ride takes be back up a hill on a divided street lined with trees. Parked cars make the narrow street even more so, a car comes up behind me and I squeeze to the right to let it pass. My pace is good and I glide through the intersections always checking twice for the distracted driver.
Not long ago the city resurfaced Thorndyke Avenue. My 20 mile per hour glide is smooth and I float for almost a mile. I barely hear the tires spinning. After the road flattens out I make a sharp right past the Barber Shop and down to the trail along the tracks of the Balmer Yard run by BNSF Railway. Everyday is different along those tracks but always the sound of the massive diesel locomotives. When the yard is busy I listen as cars driven by gravity are slowed by the Dowty Retarders. The sound is a distinctive clack clack clack and then the boom as the car couples with another. Sometimes the wingless frames of Boeing 737s are on specially built cars. They are green in color, treated to weather the elements. There are fewer now after negligence at Boeing killed 346 people. Orders dried up and still there is not a fix for the software flaw in the system.
Roots from trees make the narrow path uneven. Heading south the smoother side is the left. It would be nice if the city could shave down the bumps but even so the roots will alway win. More people are riding and walking the path and I’m forced back to the uneven side. I ride by rail cars built to transport oil, coal, goods, grain, cars and waste. Always something going on in the yard.
Expedia’s new headquarters is still under construction. Seems like it’s been years since building started. 4,500 employees are expected. It came with an upgrade to the waterfront path. Someday I’ll stop and explore the new landscaping and enjoy the views. At the height of the work the bike route detoured and at one intersection I met Preston who directed traffic. We always waved and shouted out best wishes but I have not seen him for a while now.
Now I need to be careful along the path and keep my speed to 15 miles per hour or less. Only when the path is empty do I go faster. The multi use trail is typically crowded unless the weather is poor. A grain ship takes on its load at the Pier 86 terminal. 8,000 tons of grain transferred from the silos to the first vessel to take on a load in 1970 just after opening. Grain cars fill the silos and the silos fill the ships. When a ship first docks the water mark rides high and then it eases down into Elliott Bay from the weight of the grain.
At the other end of the trail before I exit onto Alaskan Way there is the Olympic Sculpture Park. My favorite work is Echo the 46 foot tall slender meditating head. The park is a part of The Seattle Art Museum.
To head up to the Pike Place Market it is best to head over the train tracks then make the right to ride up Elliott. If the crossing gates are down I’ll watch the train if I’m not in a hurry. Sometimes they are long. There is a way around by going south and I’ll cut up Western Avenue after the train has entered the tunnel.
It is quiet in the market these days. Some stores are open but only for take out. My tires roll over the cobble stones. In the middle of the day the main street, Pike Place, is too crowded for me to ride. Few people are around now so I ride. Some people still come down to take pictures in front of the original Starbucks. There’s another larger store a block and a half away and many tourists mistake it for the first store. Sometimes I let them know.
Before I move on there are two breweries to visit. It is carry out only and the people at Cloudburst and Old Stove are grateful to see me and they thank me for wearing a mask.
I’ll take my time going back and maybe it will be by a different route.