You feel it also? Right?
Our collective unrest is tangible. It has the type of weight that you feel in your chest when you when you wake up and causes your eyes to ache as you drift of sleep.
Unrest |Unease |Unsettledness
No one is saying, “This is world is as it should be.”
So what do we humans do with our the feelings of unrest? We blame others.
The blame at times is justified and validated. The current protests speak to blame that is justified at the death of George Floyd. With much validity, the protests also cry out for change to systemic, institutional and cultural racism that still exists and still causes deep harm.
How do we correct this harm and system of harm? Can we undo the past harm? How do we do better and be better? I can’t answer these questions just yet. I am having a call this weekend with a dear friend that is going to help process these questions. We are planning on recording and sharing it via podcast- stay tuned.
So if there is blame that is justified, there is also blame that is unjustified. It is blame that gets tossed at someone else in defense, protection and sometimes only because we have no other way to cope with the situation in front of us.
So how do we tell and properly navigate if our blame is valid or not? Because this influences how we speak out and up and where we remain silent. We need to have a grip on how we deal with what is ours to own, what is not ours to own. What we can do and what we can’t do. What is helpful and what is harmful. So I want to turn to someone far wiser than I.
In an essay in What People are For, Wendell Berry speaks of this system.
I am paraphrasing here: People want to complain/blame the politics for today’s problems. But it is not the political power that is the problem, the real problem is at another level down – it is a cultural problem. A culture is how a group of people sees each each, relates to one another and the rules that everyone plays by. Culture is the air we breath. Sometimes we don’t even know it is there , but it is sustains us. And a cultural problem is made up of many individuals making decisions. This could of decisions – good, bad and ugly- beget the our culture and our culture begets our political climate.
So as we navigate the days ahead, here is a suggestion.
The fundamental building block of our world right now is your and my decisions at a personal level. Let’s call this personal responsibility. We must take, own and live out our personal responsibility. This is the building block of the culture around us.
Secondly, we must have local participation. We have to pay attention to what is happening at a cultural level right around us. For me, this starts in my home and in the church I am a part of it. It starts in the county in which I live. But hear this: I can only speak fully participate locally, when I have taken personal responsibility seriously.
Finally, out of the place of both personal responsibility and participation locally, I speak to what is happening at the larger political level. Because when I speak from the ground up, I speak substance into this world.
Otherwise, to speak only to the political (with no thought of the culture being built around us by a series of decisions by me and others) then our words are empty. At that moment, our words are not based in a desire to be better but only to talk better. Our words are empty because they intend only to maintain our identification with power not our deeper presence in the world.
If you are not asking what you can do, then you are missing the point of personal responsibility.
If all you are doing is casting stones at others nearby, and saying, “how dumb can one person be?” – you are not seeing the deep cultural divide that you are feeding into.
And if you convinced that the politicians are to blame and your fight is to just get them out/keep them in, then you are feeding the very system you despise.
It is your personal responsibility
To build culture that is healthly and whole and right
And from that place, and the place alone
elect officials that believe in building a
culture that is healthy and whole and right
That is based on personal responsibility.
Do your part today.
That is your responsibility.