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.
Today I should be in New York City. Tomorrow I should be at the wedding of my beautiful, excellent and wonderful daughter Rebecca Elizabeth. Rebecca and her fiancé Jeff Fan had plans to be on the dance floor in celebration after saying I do. Of course everything has changed and we are now in the Twilight Zone.
Rebecca and Jeff have been on my mind quite a bit this past week, first with Beck turning 29 a few days ago and then because of the postponed plans for the wedding.
So I would like to make a toast to this most wonderful couple. Wherever you are, with whatever your choice of beverage is I ask you raise a glass to Rebecca and Jeff. Here we go…..
Jeff – In the first minute I met you I knew I liked you! You have a good heart. This is evident. You also have confidence and I never had the sense you felt the need to impress me. You are comfortable with who you are and in the same breath you seek to grow in your faith. But just remember, Rebecca will always be by precious daughter. Take care of her. I know you will. Oh and thank you for taking me to Keens Steakhouse. Great meal and even better because I was with you and Beck. If you feel you do need to impress me I might like to go back to Keens.
Rebecca – I am so very grateful for you. You and I share a sense of humor and sense of direction. When I had the chance to spend some time in New York City my most favorite thing was grabbing lunch or dinner with you at Virgil’s, Ted’s Steakhouse and BIG PIZZA!!!!! That time we went to Coney Island was a blast, Remember The High Line and the trip to Staten Island just to take the subway there on Staten Island. All of those times were so wonderful! I never want you to forget, I am proud of you not for what you do, I am proud of you for who you are. Let me say it again, I am proud of who you are. You will never ever fully understand how much I enjoyed our one on ones in NYC.
Rebecca and Jeff – Even though your plans are put on hold your life together is today. Keep each other safe. Encourage each other. Never stop learning. Do what is right. Stand for the truth. Always love. Patience is gold. Until your last breath, do good.
I wish you could be celebrating tomorrow but your plans like thousands of others have been changed. I am proud of you both for how you have worked hard to make the right decisions with so much uncertainty. I cannot imagine how difficult it has been for you both. You made difficult choices. I love you both.
I want to thank you both for being there for me when I turned 60. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. My sadness of losing Paul was very present yet you helped take away some of the sting. I also want to thank you for going out to sushi with me last Christmas. I know it seems like a small thing. It was really fun to be with just you two for a short time. I love that you are together in New York City and at the same time I wish I could see you more often.
I offer a toast to you, Rebecca and Jeff. You are both loved!
In the words of Noel Paul Stookey
Well then what’s to be the reason fro becoming man and wife
Is it love that brings you here or love that gives you life
For if loving is the answer then who’s the giving for
Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before
Oh there’s love, oh there’s love
To everyone wherever you are raise a glass in celebration……..
A TOAST TO REBECCA AND JEFF – Love greatly! Love forever!
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.