Saturday, November 12, 2016

"I pledge that I will use this privilege in the hopes of losing it."

[Writing to you from hot and dusty Tamale, Ghana, the third country and last of six cities for this trip.  I leave for home in about six days.  God has been good to me on this trip despite being sick several times, but I am ready for a good long shower and my clothes are ready for a washing machine!  Thanks to all of you who support the work of Discipling Marketplace Leaders, where we are working to unleash church members from the church building, to BE the Church every day!]

This week was an emotional roller-coaster in the lives of most Americans.  For my children, it was no different.  It was great to see them both engage this election as adults, with passion for God and their country.  While this election brought painful conversations to the forefront, it no doubt has caused people to think deeply with both heart and mind; unfortunately this has caused pain for those who think and care differently from them.

I received an email from my daughter as she processed her own struggle with this election and wish to share a portion with you, with her permission.  It gave me hope and buoyed my spirits - which I hope it will do for some of you as well.  It also made me think that I want to be like my daughter when I grow up. I love the deep thinking in her pledge and her commitment to make a difference in whatever way God gives her opportunity as a social worker.  I especially love what she says about white privilege - she acknowledges she has it and pledges to work in order to lose it.  Too often we told too tightly to privilege out of fear of losing it, but then more people suffer.  Hannah has witnessed this first hand in a variety of contexts.  She grew up in a low-income African-American community, then in war-torn Liberia, then in Ghana.  This had helped her to shape her perception of privilege and also inspired a commitment to equality, rather than holding tight to safety and comfort.  May we all take a similar pledge - I know that I am.

And now, in her words, first from her email to me, followed by her pledge:

As we go into a new period of American history, I believe that social workers and those caring for the oppressed and underrepresented may be more needed than ever.  I realized that, as a citizen and social worker, my career could work to defeat some of the horrible values that exist in the USA.  I could make a difference - maybe not in this election, but try to make a difference in the way we function as an American people.  I decided that, if the results of this election were a defining moment for me, I was going to make it a moment that made me more passionate for my field, more ready to fight against injustice, and more willing to put myself out there.  But I refuse to embody the ignorance, hatred, and prejudice that have disgusted me from both sides of this election.  Both parties have, now and in the past, shown a stubborn unwillingness to hear the other side, to work together, to agree to disagree and still have progress happen. 

 I am exhausted with politics.  I am exhausted with hypocrisy and lies and disappointment and fear.  My goal, and part of my pledge, is to keep on engaging.  Cynicism, pessimism, and feeling despondent are all things that will keep me from being an active participant in this nation and I won't let that happen.  I trust God that it will all be okay, either in this world or the next.

My Pledge 
I pledge to work for justice, truth, and love

Understanding that in fighting for these, I will face opposition
From politicians
From peers
From people in power
From family and friends
I pledge that I will not allow myself to become close-minded to views that oppose mine
To hate or speak in hatred when in disagreement
To make sweeping assumptions based on the actions of one or a few
I pledge that, in the face of injustice or hatred, I will speak
Not to return that hatred or injustice
But to provide a voice for whomever was receiving the injustice or hatred.
I acknowledge that I am privileged.
I am white.
I am well-educated.
I am wealthy by the world’s standards.
I was born in America
Into a two-parent household
Into the religious majority.
I have never been persecuted for my beliefs, 
my race, or my background.
I am privileged.
I pledge that I will use this privilege in the hopes of losing it.
To use my privilege, unfairly bestowed, to fight for justice and peace
To use it in the hopes that eventually, I will not be privileged
In the hopes that, one day, I will lose the favor accorded to me purely based on appearance
And instead will see equal opportunity, love, and respect accorded to all.
I pledge that I will listen to God and follow Him.
I will be a representative of my Creator in a world that needs His love.
I pledge that I will be advised by trusted leaders and role models in my pursuits.
I pledge that, when I make errors, I will acknowledge them and do what I can to correct them.
I pledge to fight for truth, for love, for equality
To fight for those who have been marginalized
To do what I feel is right and not what is easy or safe.
I will show respect and love to those with whom I have profound disagreements.
I will not let my own prejudices get in my way.
Instead, I will acknowledge them
Work through them  
Conquer them.
I will engage with people who I disagree with.
I will love those who will hate me in return. 
 I will not let cynicism, fear, and pessimism drag me down  
As these are tools of the Enemy that distract from pursuing Good.  
I will continue to fight, knowing that loss is possible and likely  
Knowing that I am young and na├»ve  
Knowing that there is a long way to go.  
My life will be dedicated to God, to His calling, and His creation.  
It will be dedicated to fellow citizens of the Earth.  
My life will be one of uphill battles, frustrations, disappointments, and pain. 
 It will also be filled with victories, with love, with knowledge, and with conviction. 
 I will not shirk my responsibilities. 
 This is my pledge.