It is the first day of the Republican Convention and I am hoping that the speakers there don't try to capitalize on our differences, but recognize that we are in a painful place and that we need to talk. I hope that we find ways to grieve, and feel pain, before trying to take action to fix things that are deeply rooted and could easily be misdiagnosed.
Newt Gingrich, of all people, acknowledged the difficulty of being black in America last week. I also had numerous conversations with white parishioners who were looking again at their own attitudes towards race with a honesty and effort. I hope that these are signs of things to come and not momentary. For the conversation about race to be sustained, we will need to hold the space for it open: It is a tentative and fragile thing.
Insight is hard to come by, but it is worth pursuing. I hesitate to put into words what I am exploring as I don't feel like I know enough to write in a fully informed way. I am exploring and asking questions like many of us. I just hope we have time to ask those questions and have that conversation. It would be too easy, right now, to fall into camps of 'us' and 'them' and feel the threat of the stranger so strongly that we shut down any discussion.
There was a line in Monica’s sermon that really struck me yesterday. After she had introduced the ancient middle eastern idea of hospitality as, ‘kindness to strangers,’ she said that the modern idea of hospitality had become more like kindness to strangers if you are convinced they are not a threat to you.
We have to work hard to not see each other as a threat so that we might open up the space for conversation. This week, as I listen to the speeches from the Republican Convention and the rebuttals from the Democratic party I am going to listen out most for voices that call us towards reconciliation and deeper conversation about the kind of country we can be. I hope I hear them. More importantly that that, I hope I find a way to be one of those voices.
From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.