BY DAVE RODRIGUEZ, SENIOR PASTOR
For several months, Senior Pastor, Dave Rod', and long-time Grace attender, Marc Williams (pictured above) have been having an authentic and public conversations on the tragedies happening not only in the U.S., but all over the world. Click here to catch up on the past conversations.
Dave: So, Marc...these series of questions you raised are so very important:
Are we having those conversations in churches? Are we actively strategizing so we can take action to promote change with intentionality, focusing on racism and prejudice? If we are doing it, are we doing enough?
I wonder when we'll have that Popeye moment (""I can'st stands no more...!""). I wonder when I will...when Grace will...and just so you know, I am wrestling with this for us at Grace. Frankly, this email chain thing is part of my hoped for processing.
Marc, have you had conversation with your friends who are in law enforcement? I would love to be a fly on the wall if you ever do. What are police friends saying to you? How are they responding?
Also...did you see this article?
As an educator I wonder how it hit you? This quote from one of the Yale professors hit me hard: ""Implicit biases do not begin with black men and police. They begin with black preschoolers and their teachers, if not earlier,"" I have to be honest. I will look you in the eye and say, with conviction, I have no bias. But, this report is damning...and I am trying to figure out how to be rid of any bias I do not think I even have. You said the Devil has been at work. Yes...for generations...for eons...since Adam and Eve and the apple. We are dealing with a generational curse that is perpetuated over and over...Maybe a nation-wide deliverance is needed...
Thanks for the dialogue!
Marc: Beyond legit miracles, I wish I knew the exact answer to eliminating bias. I know it's a daily commitment though and that's tough. I know we like to pray that stuff will just disappear from us and we will be instantly freed from whatever it is. Sometimes that happens but I also think sometimes we have to ride the wave and be steadfast and committed to working through things. So at least for me, it's a daily commitment to not let bias control my life. I know my attitude towards police in general is a work in progress.
I can also admit that all of this is tiring. I have no idea where we are with any of the details of the latest killings because I've tuned out of it for now. It was starting to wear on me to read about things, see things, hear things and think about things. I sometimes feel guilty for tuning it out but I don't want to be consumed by all these stories of trauma.
I can say that I 100% believe implicit biases start early. Earlier than we want to admit. Some say that implicit bias ability is due to our original and more hazardous habitats. Implicit bias is what kept people from jump into lion's dens with meat around their necks. But unfortunately, that same thing is how we end up jumping to conclusions automatically and unconsciously which creates problems in some scenarios. Imagine how that works in times of perceived crisis or in the hands of people with the ability to inflict pain upon others? Some of it is related to the unwillingness to address our biases. By refusing to get in the room and stay in the room, doesn't that also build our biases? I think it's appropriate for us all to say: we have some serious issues that need to be discussed and fixed. As long as we find ways out the room and fail to hold ourselves accountable to honoring each other as precious creations of God, we will continue to have these problems at-large. I hate that this may read as something that is easier said than done, but I know we at least have to commit to doing the work.
Dave: Yes, yes, yes! We must see other humans as “precious creations of God”…dare I say even fragile creations of God? Where is the spirit of Francis of Assisi? Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
I am tired too. I am scared. And yet, if I do not wake up tomorrow determined to sow love and pardon I might as well pack it up and move to the mountains, or wherever, and ignore all humans.