By Conference Minister Daine Weible
The other day I was listening to a conversation with Tarana Burke and Brene Brown on the Daily Show podcast. They were talking about the book they have written together, “You Are Your Best Thing”. The book is a collection of essays about trauma, vulnerability, and the Black experience.
The conversation included the concept of vulnerability, something that Dr. Brown speaks about often in her work. The authors pointed out that when we talk about the armor we wear, we have to understand that for some people the challenge is to let our armor down where for others, the importance is to protect our armor in order to stay safe. Dr. Brown said, “The commitment is how do we create workplaces and schools and communities where armor is neither required nor rewarded?” I believe we all want that. I know I want that.
She went on to say that for white people when you see something that is “blatant to humanization” what story do we have to tell ourselves to be ok with that? She continues, “What story are you making up to release yourself to any ownership or be ok with what is happening?”
This was one of those conversations that have stayed with me for the past week as I have reflected on those instances I remember (knowing that there are just as many that I don’t remember or didn’t recognize) where I saw harm done to another and I didn’t speak up. It is connected to a sermon I preached the last time we gathered in person for Annual Gathering. I said that anything that attacks or destroys the humanity of any other person is something that all of us should acknowledge is wrong and commit to making right. I was preaching to you and I was speaking to myself at the same time.
We are created in the Image of God—the Imago Dei. All of us. Period. To harm another person is to harm God. To victimize someone is to attack God. Because all of us are God’s creation. We are all part of the humanity created by God in God’s image.
So how do we create spaces in our homes and communities where we learn to listen and trust one another? How do we create workplaces and circles where we can learn to trust because we have learned to embrace one another’s humanity? How do we commit to a culture where we are able to let down our armor because the space we are in is such that it no longer serves us or it is no longer needed?
It won’t come easy. It requires work. For every instance in our lives from the time we were very young where we have witnessed violence (whether in real life or on TV) or heard a joke told that disparaged another and saw that no one said anything (or we remember our own silence), we need to commit to an equal opportunity of awareness and action going forward. Every time we say we are not ok with that, we are creating new patterns and new opportunities to change ourselves, our community, and the world around us.