Crossed Lines And The Other

I have been a Christian for forty years. I have had my ups and downs in my faith, but I made a good decision many years ago when I committed my life to Jesus Christ. I have lost some things due to my faith and gained other things as I have walked down this road.

Years ago I was involved in what is called cult ministry. I studied Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, and other faiths understanding and arguing with people in these other faiths. I have learned there is a difference. There is a line, and the line is Jesus Christ! “He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Him.” That is the line.

My worldview is based in my Christian faith. A worldview, Weltanschauung (German), “refers to the way one interprets the world.” A worldview is a socialized development via “home life, place of worship, and school.” Thus I can confidently say that my worldview was greatly impacted by my salvation and subsequent study of the Bible. However, it has also been influenced by the fact that I am an American.

The following ideals are a few of what is usually associated with being an American. “Democracy, achievement, activity over reflection, absolutism, efficiency, progress, rationality, individualism, and racial and group superiority.” At one point in time the Irish and Germans were hated as they immigrated to the United States. However, our history is filled with slavery and continued fight for civil rights of blacks. Immigration is still a problem that we can’t seem to agree on. I think we have a problem with the other.

The question is what is meant by other? “The other is a generic term used to signify members of the out-group. In-groups do not have the same worldview as do out-groups.” The battle in our society between the dominant culture and the other is usually around what is called intractable issues, or opposing views of right and wrong. Our current intractable issues are abortion, gay rights, immigration, and race. Each side seeks to demonize the other, rather than seek to understand.

If you read my blog from yesterday you would know that I am wrestling with white privilege and understanding my students. However, I am a Christian who follows the prince of peace, so in order for me to be a Christ-follower I think it is my responsibility to break down walls and create shared meaning. I also think that is what a good manager/leader does. So it is time not to be a hater, but someone who creates understanding.

Hatred is “powerful, extreme, and a persistent emotion” that rejects the out-group. Hatred leads to the denial of the humanity of another person or group, denial of security for another person or group, the placing of one group over another, and the dominant group controlling the resources “in a win-lose conflict.” I think these comments reflect accurately American history; the dominant white male disallowing women to vote, as well as reducing opportunities for people of color.

I know some of my readers are going to say, I am tired of hearing this, I thought we were beyond racism. But the fact is, until we have a serious conversation that leads to a shared meaning of the past we will never get past this. It will be like a festering abscess that continues to infect the body. All I want you to do is listen to me and think about what I am saying.

We need to analyze the power relationships in our country to understand and deal with oppression, exploitation, and injustice. This is critical. This reality is not only racial, but managerial. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is getting greater, leading to a stronger win-lose owning of resources.

Proponents of critical theory use the term praxis to reflect how this process occurs. “The primary method of critical theory is praxis, which is the reciprocal, dynamic, and reflexive relationship that practitioners engage in when their theorizing about societal oppression informs their actions taken to challenge that oppression.”

The question that I am answering for me, is what do I do from here? First, I intend to be sensitive to mistreatment, oppression, and suffering. This is definitely inline with my faith. Jesus was very concerned about the poor and marginalized. Second, I am going to provide opportunities for access of expression. If we can’t do this on a academic campus, where can we do this? Third, I am going to continue to seek a solution through communication and negotiation avenues.

So there you have it. I have really missed the boat for several years now, but I intend to rectify this. I am teaching students of all colors and ethnic backgrounds, I think I need to be better prepared to teach. I feel like I am Paul seeing a vision of a Macedonian telling him to visit Macedonia. I am being compelled to think about this in new ways. I am learning and growing.

And that is my thought for the day!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s