We need to talk.

I have continued to pray and reflect on the elections these past few days, which have been dark, heavy, and painful for me.  I have also reflected on my last post, which , in my panic, may have been said too prematurely, too hastily, without sitting in my pain and in others’ pain.  Although I believe that reconciliation is ultimately the path I would like to go towards, I think that we all have a lot of collective work to do, some deep soul searching, to identify and to acknowledge all of the injustices and hurt of racism, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia, and violence that we have experienced.  This work will be fundamentally important in order to reach that level of intimacy and honesty needed for reconciliation.

So… We need to talk.  That talk will be very difficult and it will be painful.  It will be awkward and it will be a source of stress.  But it will be important.  Franciscan Action Network has issued a Statement of Civil Discourse in Response to the 2016 Presidential Election.  They advocate a Francis Pledge for a commitment to Civility in Discourse.  I think this is a good frame work to engage in dialogue in the next few months.

For me, this dialogue will be very important to healing.  I know there are some of my friends who don’t want healing (just yet), and I understand and reverence that.  They are angry and don’t want anything to do with the system.  They are calling for all out revolution and a rejection of everything that is a part of it.  But as angry as I also am, I am not there and I don’t see myself getting there because there are too many people (myself included) enmeshed in this system. We can’t burn the whole system down because too many of our poor, oppressed, and marginalized brothers and sisters are inside. I applaud your work and will support your vision, which I hope is ultimately of justice for all. But right now, I can only work to transform this country for ours into the great one I know it can be, as slow and as painful as that work is.

But I will promise this:  As a Franciscan Brother, I will stand on the side of the marginalized and the oppressed. I stand with people of color, women, LGBTQ+, non-Christians, non-citizens, with immigrants, migrants, and refugees, low-income peoples, people with a disability, and anyone else who is made to be an “other”. I am also “other” and I will work for our justice and our rights.

For those who disagree with me, and even for those who want to just move on and heal without acknowledging the hurt and oppression experienced by minorities like me, I will do my best to speak to you out of the kindness of my heart. That kindness will be civil, but that kindness will not be the kindness that you expect or want right now. It will be discomforting for you, it will challenge you, and I will ask you to rethink a lot of the things that you have assumed and expected for so long. That kindness will not be silence because “to be a [just person] is to take sides with those who are marginalized, dehumanized and subject to violence. Whether we like it or not neutrality isn’t an option. In the face of violent activity, to hide behind the mirror of ignorance is to take sides with the powers that be” (Dr. Elisabeth Vasko, Beyond Apathy: A Theology for Bystanders).

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