Tag Archives: reconciliation

Reconciliation Realized

“Reconciliation” gets romanticized and demonized  – but, if the truth be told, it seems difficult to find people and places where it is realized.   – See prior article –

What does it take to realize reconciliation and as King described it the creation of Beloved Community?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. locks arms with his aides as he leads a march of several thousands to the court house in Montgomery, Ala., March 17, 1965. From left: Rev. Ralph Abernathy, James Foreman, King, Jesse Douglas, Sr., and John Lewis (partially out of frame). (AP Photo)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. locks arms with his aides as he leads a march of several thousands to the court house in Montgomery, Ala., March 17, 1965. From left: Rev. Ralph Abernathy, James Foreman, King, Jesse Douglas, Sr., and John Lewis (partially out of frame). (AP Photo)

The Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. shared:

                Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community.    “Advice For Living”  Ebony Magazine, November 1957  

King stresses that the difference between chaos and beloved community is the difference between hate and love.

  • But do we really understand what  love is?
  • Do we have an accurate picture of what love does?
  • Are we aware that hate is not only the active ugly force that we easily identify but that it can also be passive and apathetic?

John, the friend and follower of Jesus Christ, wrote this:

 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but feels no compassion for imagesthem, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  1 John3:17-18

A few reasons I believe we have not  realized reconciliation in the quest of beloved community:

  • Our society lacks of appreciation for the complexities of love and hate as both King and John understood;   Real love must active, while hate is present both in what we do and in what we leave undone.love-hate-words-balance-balance-white-background-36307176
    1. We cheapen love by relegating it to being an emotion of attraction and not the motivator for self-sacrifice
    2. We try to avoid hate, wanting to appear as “good people” we believe that hate only is present in those who actively speak or oppose the “other.” Yet,  we can hate by knowing of pain and injustice and not doing what is in our power to right it.  Hate is most often a passive attitude of indifference that allows injustice to continue unchecked.
  • We do not grasp the depth of the divisions that need to be reconciled.CBuRSWLUgAA7NJe
    • In the context of financial records, reconciling ones books requires a review of the historical data, as well as the present discrepancies.
      • We cannot have racial and cultural reconciliation without becoming educated on the history of those relationships, and the present discrepancies or disparities. To try to address the history taking into account the present issues is to be simplistic. To try to address present discrepancies without considering the historical causes will lead to false solutions.
      • The need for reconciliation presupposes an absence of trust.  Trust cannot be built in dismissive of defensive posturing.  Accepting that our divisions are deep is not to say that they are unconquerable – it is only to say prepare for a long and arduous, yet satisfying journey.
  1. We fail to address reconciliation in all areas of human interaction: Individual Relationships, Social Interactions and Broad Cultural Systems.   Let me quickly define what I mean by these three categories:
  • Individual Relationships; personal one to one interaction across race and class. For these relationships to benefit the overall realization of reconciliation both parties must seek to rid the relationship of the trappings of colonization and power.  For example the white family with the black nanny cannot say they are” reconciled with African-Americans  because of their relationship with the woman who works in their home.”    Reconciling Individual relationships must be marked with mutual respect and power sharing, not “power-over” or manipulation.
    • Individual reconciling relationships allow individuals to see past racial and cultural stereotypes to a person with whom they share and relate. These relationships can be instructive in seeing broader cultural issues that had before been unseen.
    • Who do you have in your life that teaches you, challenges you, loves you, and allows you to see life from a different cultural perspective?
  • Social Interactions; having social interactions outside ones birth culture or racial group, where one is welcomed and participates regularly. Reconciliation requires that people experience and learn through inclusion and experiences within other cultural contexts.  Social interactions are essential in the reconciliation process as they push us beyond the trite, “I’m not prejudiced, I have a friend who is_______”    As one enters into new social contexts they  begin to better understand the complexities of culture and race (beyond the “friend”)  as well as have their own presuppositions challenged.   (your one friend of another culture can protect you from being shocked, a social setting will shock you into being changed!)
    • When one is involved in diverse social settings beliefs are challenged and one’s personal cultural base can begin to shift. A person becomes truly multi-cultural when they understand the cues and norms of a new culture and can function with comfort in that culture. Reconciliation across race and culture demands a level of multi-cultural competence for healthy and respect communication.
    • Are there social circles, group activities or even social media sites where you are the minority?  Where you are respected yet challenged?  Are there groups of people who love you enough to tell you the truth, even if it hurts?
  • Broad Cultural Systems; these are the invisible and visible systems that need change. They guide everything in our society from police interactions, banking transactions, and educational institutions.  Without addressing these systems which exist in legislation and tradition we will not become a reconciled society.   The Civil Rights movement focused on removing the overt racist legislation that was on our books, but was unable to address the behind the scenes practices and assumptions that fomented the legal, commercial and educational systems we still have today.
    • Most all of our (USA) social institutions, were organized during the time of legal racism, they were created to sustain and support a racist system, so we must dig deep to remove the policies and traditions that, while on the surface appear natural, actually reinforce racial prejudice and the social disparities we see today. Examples
      • Banking practices where minorities were being directed into high-risk mortgages, only because of their color an bankers as they walked in the door; this was not personal bankers acting badly, it was bank policy.
      • Educational policies that result in minority youth being more likely to be suspended for the same infraction as white youth.
      • Hiring practices where a resume with the name “Laquisha” is more likely rejected than the same resume with the name “Janice”
  • Challenging the status quo, the systems that wreck havoc to the people the powerful do not want to see, cannot be a “option”  reconciliation and real love demand  advocacy.  One can be a participant in injustices OR an Ambassador for Reconciliation.
  • It is impossible to have a truely “reconciling friendship” if you do not challenge the systems which keep your “friend” oppressed.

The foundation of Beloved Community, the realization of reconciliation requires us all to make changes in all three of these arenas.

For myself,  I know it was relationships with individuals that opened up my life to new social settings.  It was

Rest Stop on the Journey
Rest Stop on the Journey

these friends, and our shared experiences,  that pushed me to fight against the system of social power (from which I benefit) and advocate for change in the broad social systems that guide our society.   I know that without personal connection to the injustices in our society (it is my friends who are impacted by police brutality, immigration injustices, and educational disparities) I could easily become weary in pushing for changes that are difficult to attain and bring little personal benefit to me.

On the flip side, I find it curious that there are people who advocate for reconciliation and Beloved Community, on a legal, theological or theoretical level;  yet have few friends or social circles that put them into a context where they directly see the need for reconciliation or are challenged to utilize the cross cultural understanding and  healing love.

Reconciliation cannot be a fad, easily romanticized, nor should we let it become a term we despise because we have never seen it done well.  We must see it as a prize, no it is more,  it is the hope for us as a people and for our world.  We must all do our part in all areas of our society to help bring the Beloved Community.




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