Hoping to connect… can it happen?

Over the past five weeks, people have gathered every week, a couple of hundred at a time, to talk — about whether “strong women” are a threat or a blessing to us; about immigrants and refugees and how we go about living gratefully and graciously alongside them — and, these days, protecting them — as our neighbors; about racism as a community curse and what we can do about it; about our LGBTQ community and why queer folks generate such fear; and about religious bigotry — especially against Jews and Muslims in our midst and what we can do about it.  (We ought also talk about why Pagans are often subjected to harassment here in western NC and throughout rural America — and in time we will.)

 

These topics are  the first five in an 8-session series being sponsored in Brevard NC by our local NAACP in cooperation with several Christian congregations (protestant and catholic, white, black, Latino).

 

What’s been remarkable has been the outpouring of interest and energy by folks of different ages, men and women, eager to listen, willing to speak up, and committed to doing whatever needs to be done not only to resist  Trump but to re-make our communities and, by extension, our country in a strong spirit of mutuality.

 

Genuine mutuality involves listening to others, speaking up ourselves, and reaching out to connect with those who may be quite unlike us in any number of ways — including politically — and an openness on each person’s part to being touched and changed in ways that may surprise us.

 

Be clear that building such relationships doesn’t mean giving up on our values or basic commitments to justice and fairness for all.  But it probably does mean  coming to new understandings of who we are, what we believe and value, and why; and of coming to new understandings of the “others,” whoever they are.

 

We NAACP folks are hoping to help build a second series next fall, one to be shaped with those “others.”  How this can happen, or if it can, remains to be seen.  But it’s a real hope that many of us progressives share here in the NC mountains.

2 thoughts on “Hoping to connect… can it happen?

  1. Carter,
    I thank you fro the effort and ingenuity you have put into organizing these meetings. They have caused me to realize how deep seated my prejudices are and they have given me new inspiration and energy to think and feel differently.

    I was born in 1932 in West Texas and grew up in the environment of the South. Segregation of blacks was everywhere, and a way of life. Mexicans were considered only a step above blacks, and looked down on. I was told to be nice to them, but not to associate. Homosexuality was considered a sin and disgusting. Young men feared being thought queer, went out of their way to act masculine and joked about those who appeared feminine.

    These feelings became instinctive and subconscious. As I grew older, I knew better, but the feelings and impulses were still there. These programs have made me realize the need to act my way into good thinking, to own my feelings, accept who I am and become willing th change.

    Thank you again.

    • Bob, you are one of the most honest, caring, and intelligent men I know. Thanks for sharing this story which reminds me of my former partner Bev Harrison, who died in 2012. Bev was also born in 1932 but in west Minnesota with similar assumptions about blacks and gays. Watching her struggle to overcome — to “act her way into good thinking,” as you wisely note — was a source of ongoing inspiration in my life. Of course, I have my own struggles to overcome bigotry and deep assumptions about just about everything. These days, I’m wrestling with assumptions about our beloved nation and how much time and space a president like Trump can/should be given before he’s stopped by somebody — Congress (that’ll be the day), the Judiciary (more likely), or the Military and/or CIA (which, heretofore in my thinking, has been unthinkable). These days are nerve-wracking, aren’t they?

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