I am a straight, white, male, CIS, Christian. In a disgusting variety of circumstances, me, or somebody a lot like me, is likely to be the first to ask questions, answer questions, expound, pontificate, and attempt to take charge. I am learning that this is a problem.
It was a bunch of years ago I started to wrap my head around this. I first started to think about it when the film, “Cry Freedom” lead me to the book, “Biko.” These are a portrait of a South African freedom fighter who wouldn’t allow European-descended allies to join his groups. In college, I began to process the idea that racism, sexism, etc packs a 1-2 punch. The obvious loss is the way that oppressed groups are made to feel as though they can’t, shouldn’t, and don’t have the answers. The more subtle, but no less significant problem is that people in the majority like myself are socialized to think that we always have to provide the answers, that we have this burden and duty to work out these issues.
Much more recently, my awesome church spent these months focusing on these issues. I was introduced to the concept of whitespaining and mansplaining. (If these terms are new to you, I rustled up this definition online: ” to explain or comment on something in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner, from the perspective of the group one identifies with,”
I have been trying to listen more and talk less. I am embarrassed by how difficult it is.
And yet… here I am. Pontificating away on my little blog. I am hoping that this is ironic, and not hypocritical, that I am pondering these things here.
Here is the thing I was thinking about today:
In addition to all the problems and injustices that this system perpetuates on myself and others, I had this realization today about the ways that I think this fouls up my attempts at relating to God.
I have these delusions that I ought to be self sufficient. I live on these happy lies that I am not dependent on others. I can earn my keep and my worth is proportional to the value that I have created. I think the world needs to hear my deep thoughts.
None of this is true in the material world. But is also diminishes my relationship with my maker. Because I require and fully depend on “him.” The love “he” holds for me is not earned, and he has already thought and dismissed every silly little thought I will ever have.
Maybe this is why Jesus shows up among the starving, naked, and enslaved; maybe this is why the rich man will have such a battle in entering the kingdom of heaven. It is such a primal lesson, how we hold ourselves in comparison to the other in our relationships. If we can’t get past that, holding ourselves above the people around us, we aren’t likely to connect with God.