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Saturday, March 15, 2008

On Truth, Or, An Open Letter To A Reverend

Dear Reverend Wright,

I write to you today to offer a small bit of support at what might be a difficult time for your family and yourself.

There are a series of comments of which you are certainly aware that are causing considerable outrage in some quarters this week…but if I may be so bold, I do not understand exactly why the sermons that are today being proffered as unacceptable speech deserve to generate the degree of shock and anger being expressed in the larger political and media communities.

It is clear that you express your positions with great fire—and we presume an appropriate level of brimstone as well—but when you suggest that our imperious foreign policy has come home to roost, I think you speak truth in a way that makes many uncomfortable, yet seems to be borne out by a dispassionate examination of facts.

To be completely honest, I have forever wondered why we have never had a national conversation that centers around the question of whether we might be, through our own behavior, causing others to contemplate attacks of a similar nature to the events of 9/11; and rather than offering condemnation, I write today to thank you for having the courage to raise a most difficult issue.

Another quick note—again, with your kind indulgence.

I have never been a nigger.

But I have seen, with my own two eyes, the look of dismissive contempt on the face of someone close to me talking about “lazy niggers” who would just as soon kill you as rob you…and it hurts me, deep in my soul, to imagine the torment that statement causes in the hearts of those to whom the remarks are directed.

I will never feel that torment personally…and the fact is neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain have either. It is also a fact that there is a candidate running who has had that experience—and in a time when reconsidering how we relate to each other and the world is more critical than ever, that experience may in fact matter.

Which brings me to my final topic:

As a child I can recall watching the images of the “Long Hot Summers” and then being told that I had to recite the Pledge of Allegiance when school resumed.

I could never resolve the conflict between those images and “One Nation Under God”, even at that young age.

From the age of 10 I refused--never out loud, but silently—to participate in the morning ritual; and for the rest of my school career I stood silently with my arms at my sides.

With that in mind, I want you to know that I do well understand what you meant when you said “God Damn America”; and while it was said in a manner that was clearly designed to cause discomfort to the listener, it does not change the fact that behind the words is again an overarching truth many wish would remain unspoken.

And I would go a step further.

I would suggest that the exercise of speaking truth to power is in fact the very essence of a Reverend’s chosen vocation…and that choosing to remain silent is choosing to assent to injustice.

The most important power possessed by the United States is not military, or economic, or superficially cultural. Instead, our greatest strength lies in the fact that we are not a “love it or leave it” nation—that we are indeed capable of great and painful introspection, and from time to time, great and painful change.

But that change, as you so well know, is not achieved by the meek.

And I write today to tell you that I think a Nation that began a process of great and painful change with a Civil War in the 19th Century and consecrated even more hallowed ground at a bridge in Selma in the 20th Century can stand a bit of strident truth telling in this 21st Century …and that, despite today’s hue and cry, if we really think about the meaning of your words we will find within them dark and unsettling truths.

But if we are willing to face those truths…to look within ourselves and give that “last great measure of devotion”…we may finally find the power to set ourselves truly free.

Should that day come, Reverend Wright, a God who has blessed us so richly in the past will have bestowed upon America the greatest blessing of a


wiley said...

Hands down one of the better blogs in the town hall of free thinking.
Scrape the skies. Toss the cookies of religious ambiguous burning shit in a bag hangin' on a door knob.
Kick out the (door)jambs rasta mon Don de Davis.

wiley said...

Hands down one of the better blogs in the town hall of free thinking.

Scape the skies. See what falls down?

Toss the cookies of religious ambiguous burning bush/burning shit in bags hangin' on door knobs.

Kick out the (door) jambs rasta mon Don de Joker Mon.

fake consultant said...

you are in!

congratulations...and i've made things a bit easier for next time.