Dialogue Vs. Debate
There has been serious, serious racial and ethnic tension in our great country since before the United States declared independence in 1776. The easiest way to avoid the tension that occurs between groups of people with differing social and cultural makeups is for those groups to never interact with one another, but this easy way is not possible in our world today. Our world is too small for us to attempt to avoid contact with those people who look, act, sound, or even smell different than we do.
The difficulty is as old as Cain and Able and as current as today’s news, but if we can figure out how to dialogue with our sisters and brothers and all our fellow human beings in time we can learn how to live together in relative harmony. Even the healthiest of families have conflict, but if they are healthy they have learned how to dialogue with one another especially when they are angry with one another.
Recently a colleague in ministry posted a very accurate assessment of our current acute racial crisis when she pointed out the need for us all to stop speaking of they and them and to start speaking in the plural first person.
I couldn’t agree more and additionally I would say that we could speak in the singular first person a lot more. It is important that we are able to speak our opinions and to call out hateful and damaging speech and actions by individuals and groups. Not doing so has in the past led to atrocities like the holocaust and other genocides.
Remaining silent when we have had the opportunity for dialogue is why there still is a serious problem with racism and broken systems in the U.S. and throughout most of the world. Words can be powerful because they can lead to change of heart and mind and the change of heart and mind can lead to actual change.
That is the goal isn’t it? The goal is for our children to be fed, to be safe, to be educated. The goal is for all people regardless of age, class, race, gender or sexual identity, to be fed, to be safe, and to be educated. This must be the basic right of every human being and I submit that this is the responsibility of those of us who are fed, safe and blessed with an education.
These are the basic ingredients for our children, sisters, and brothers to survive and to thrive so that they can become the people God created them to be and so that together we can all reach our God given potential.