Imagining a New Way of Reconciliation Together
by Aaron Tiger
My heart hurts and my head spins.
Earlier this summer with what happened in Minnesota, Louisiana, Dallas, and more, I felt lost as to what to do about race relations in our country. There were lots of strong opinions about easy solutions, and it just didn’t resonate with me, because it seems like what we need are not easy solutions, but profound solutions.
What we need are not strong opinions but deep humility.
I wrote last year about the difference between better and good, and I reflected this way,
“For a long time, I thought that race relations in our country were ‘good,’ simply because they were ‘better.’ There was not legalized slavery anymore, so that is better. We have black leaders in government including the President, so that is better. Our schools are integrated, so that is better. But just because things are better than they were, does not mean that they are good.”
So how do we go from better to good? We learn, we listen, and we respond. What is the normal pattern of this world to race relations? We hear, we react, and we look for confirmation to our opinion. One definition of maturity is the ability to respond humbly instead of to react arrogantly.
As I write this, I am sitting with a group of 30 people from about nine different countries and around ten different states, as I work on my doctor of ministry. This experience has been one of the most humbling experiences in my life, as we have had some amazing conversations that have opened my eyes to a side of God that I had not previously seen.
It’s fascinating to hear a conversation and people respond with what life is like in their respective countries like India, Romania, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and even Texas. Something strange happens when you hear someone from Haiti speak about the issues in his context, you begin to see things from their perspective, and you begin to imagine what it would be like to be there.
So, I want to invite us to respond humbly together. Our goal is to listen to a different perspective on race relations and imagine life from their perspective. Beginning on Wednesday, August 31st, I am going to be hosting a conversation on “Reconciliation: A Conversation on Faith and Race” from 6:00-7:30 at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa. If you need childcare, it is available. If you need dinner, we will have food available beforehand. If you have questions, email me.
During this seven-week conversation, we are going to learn, to listen, and respond. We will learn about race relation in Tulsa and what the Bible says about reconciliation and race. We will listen to people who have different experiences. And we will respond by discerning together by asking ourselves how we can be a better neighbor, and how we can work together to bring reconciliation and wholeness to our community.
I am not an expert in race relations, but I’m committed to learning and being a better neighbor. I hope you can join me.
Aaron Tiger is a minister at FUMC-Tulsa, a dad, a husband, and a child of God. He is the Editor-In-Chief of the918.org.
I went to the first class of the series last night. It was relaxed. Everyone seems willing and/or eager to be genuine and open. I eagerly anticipate next week’s class.
Like Aaron I watch the news and shake my head, wondering where can we go from here. If you listen to the commentators you’d think this is an American problem. I believe is not an American problem, but a problem in America and everywhere. When I was young I lived abroad. I learned that segregation, bias, prejudice and distrust exist all over the world — between races, ethnicities, classes, religions, sects of religions, even gender. I think It’s part of the human condition to gather/live/socialize where you feel safe–with your own kind. I think that’s the norm. I think we have to learn to stretch beyond the norm to get past what millenia of survival mechanisms and cultural patterns have ingrained into the human brain (and heart).
It’s part of the sin problem. Only Christ can help us conquer the sin problem. Only Christ can help us expand our hearts wide enough to embrace the whole of humanity.