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Today marks the beginning of a year in which individuals and organizations will concentrate on bringing about racial healing and transformation, work that is being engaged in even now as this nation struggles with her issues. The so-called “National Day of Healing” was conceived by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which recently held a Truth, Reconciliation and Racial Healing & Transformation summit. At that summit, over 570 people representing 130 organizations committed to healing met to discuss the rising racial tensions growing in cities, rural areas and the suburbs.
There is truly a need for healing. This National Day of Healing is a good idea, a good first step. On this day, some organizations are holding activities designed to make participants look racism in the face and decide what they can do and need to do in order to change the tide.
LaJune Montgomery Tabron, the president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, said the nation is crying out for healing. And the Fellowship of Reconciliation believes that. But we also know that the work of getting to reconciliation comes only after deep probing of the internal spirit of this nation, work people instinctively fight against, resenting and rejecting the terms “racism” and “racist.” It is as though America does not want to heal. America has grown comfortable with her discomfort.
That being the case, FOR hopes that this National Day of Healing will push individuals and organizations to a new place, a place where they are willing to endure the pain that always comes with growth. Denying there is a problem will impede any effective work, and therefore, any healing and reconciliation. There cannot be healing without dealing first with the truth about the seriousness of the illness at hand.
The discontent of the country is a call to act, but the call has been there for hundreds of years. Racism has never abated; it has flourished and has been supported overtly by individuals and organizations. Unfortunately, too many churches have supported it, using the scriptures as justification. We should weep as we realize how miserably faith-based organizations have failed in being “the way” to truth, and therefore healing and ultimate reconciliation.
And yet, the effort to find the courage to stand up and push back against racism has to increase, not decrease. Dr. Martin Luther King said in 1967 in his sermon, “Where Do We Go From Here?” that people leaving the that gathering of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) should leave with a sense of “divine dissatisfaction.” He listed the issues of 1967, many of which had been issues since 1867 and before. And here we are today, in 2017, still struggling with many of the same issues.
If enough of us get “divinely dissatisfied,” maybe the real work before us will finally get underway. FOR stands in the space of that dissatisfaction, calling people to be eager enough to please God and therefore help form the Beloved Community, a term coined by FOR member Josiah Royce many years ago, come to be. It is far past “time” for reconciliation for the sake of authentic community, a place where all of God’s children are valued.
Fellowship of Reconciliation
January 17, 2017
Photo Credit: Millions March NYC Courtesy of All-Nite Images Flickr CC