Over the last 30 days, many have asked my thoughts regarding the racial divisions that have spilled over into our city streets, country diners, churches, friendships and homes. I've received calls from coast to coast, north and south. As a man growing up in a bi-racial family with strong relationships with black Americans and law enforcement you can assume I too have developed mindsets and behaviors that reflect a tension that has simmered like an active volcano for so many centuries. As I attempt to offer my thoughts, one of Abe Lincoln's instructions to the general he assigned to the Missouri - Kansas violence comes to mind. "If you make everybody happy or nobody happy, you are equally wrong". I'm sure I'll manage this tension and not be equally wrong.
I will not offer, nor be coerced by, anger and hostility to persuade. Rather, present my best understanding and life experience for consideration. Most of you know this about me, so I write to offer you my heart and pray the depth of relationship we have forged will allow us to have a conversation.
For today, I want to simply offer this. My favorite hero of all time, though an extremely rugged man, carried two human qualities that are critical to possess in order to appropriately navigate this tension. Quality one is he was frequently "moved with compassion"; and quality two is he was able to quiet his own thoughts and opinions to the point of being able to accurately hear what others were truly saying whereby, "knowing their thoughts", he could respond to social issues with accurate truth and authority.
Moved with compassion: There is a difference in having a level of compassion as a person and allowing our hearts and minds to be "moved" with compassion. My hero broke down all kinds of cultural barriers, stereotypes and bigotry simply by allowing himself to be moved with compassion and he was equal opportunity. He had compassion on soldiers and civilians alike. He had compassion on men, women and children. He had compassion within his culture and within cultures of others. He was a visionary who grafted all mankind into his vision. When personally attacked, he deftly sidestepped the attackers and went about his business. In fact, he believed that being personally attacked just came with the position. He never marketed in fear but offered peace, even when being forceful in his authority as a man.
Knowing their thoughts: Getting outside of our own worlds long enough to actually hear what others are saying seems to be quite the lost art. Instead of deeply listening, this is a season of finding those who agree with our persuasions, then presenting them as proof that we are right. Without deeply listening to one another, we are in great danger of completely missing the point. This is a danger all sides of an issue are at risk of unless we stop long enough to listen deeply and hear deeply. By skipping that step we are not addressing the issue but sidestepping and operating in either partial truth or even an embedded lie. My hero was so good at listening and hearing deeply, that he could respond with truth and authority.
It is from this place of compassion and listening deeply to others that I'll address the black lives matter movement in Part II and what I call mob rule in Part III. Over the last 30 days I have talked to all of those throughout the landscape who will return my call. What I have learned leads me to deeper place of compassion and listening. The result has been me being "moved".