Last week I left the quiet, serene island of Lombok, Indonesia where the mostly Muslim population started Lebrun (Eid al-Fitr), praying together in the first light of a new morning after the end of Ramadan, a month of introspection and forgiveness. Landing back in our country to the tumult and divide that revealed itself so painfully yet again in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas was startling and disorienting.
Since then I have found myself in moments of reflection. Taking stock of my feelings, looking at what is important to me –and looking at the
inherent connectedness I feel on most days when I stop and listen to myself and those around me and to those throughout the nation.
In particular I was moved by President Obama’s eulogy at the Dallas ceremony. His particular comment on working together (my words) resonates deeply, and relates to the courageous and challenging work our clients practice.
“If we cannot even talk about these things – honestly and openly – not just in the comfort of our own circles, but with those who look different than us or bring a different perspective, then we will never break this dangerous cycle. So in the end, it is not about finding policies that work; it’s about forging consensus; fighting cynicism; and finding the political will to make change. –President Obama | Dallas Ceremony
The Type Of Partnership We Need To Strengthen Now
For me, it is this idea of forging partnership “with those who look different or bring a different perspective” that most energizes me. It is also the most difficult for me. But it is these partnerships I most need to strengthen. Particularly with those in my country whose set of “facts” are so different than my own. This is my work, especially with other whites, and particularly with straight white men.
As I continue thinking deeply about race, racism and our work together as whites in this country, I will find myself saying over and over to myself –take a breath, breathe, notice and reach out to connect and engage with others.
Andrew O’Heir’s provocative piece in Salon, America’s Existential Crisis, also speaks to the dilemma of “Different Americans, and different groups of Americans, perceive different realities …” –suggesting that we need perspective, yet perspective is what we lack. (photo: Reuters/Rick Wilking)