December 4, 2014

Race in America

As I sat down in chapel this morning I found myself praying for the United States. Praying for the wisdom to know the paths toward justice and reconciliation, and for the courage to follow them. What other strong statement can I make about our current events? Each one that I think of seems infected by a, 'yes, but also this...' And this from someone who grew up acutely aware of our issues of race; in fact, the first time I found myself in a majority white environment was when I went away to college, and this was such a culture shock that I only managed to resolve it by ending up a Catholic at the end of it all.

But the frustration and not knowing what to say--from my position of white privilege (and also white guilt)--is nothing new to me. It's akin to the frustration that also left me, at the end of college, wanting to be a Franciscan. It first came most strongly when the euphoria of having done good in some work of charity gave way to the realization that even this was tainted by the superiority of my social position.

To me, to become a Franciscan meant that at least in my own person, I could undo the systems of power and privilege that gave some people in society access to resources and others not. That made some rich and kept others poor. That led to me enjoying a hedonistic college campus while certain of my contemporaries had to go die in Iraq. (Such was the historical moment of my conversion-crisis). St. Francis showed me a way to opt out of the system from which came so much hurt and injustice.

Has it worked out? Has my Franciscan journey done this for me? That's another post, I think. God grant me the courage to write it if the inspiration comes.

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