Let’s talk about the term “white supremacy,” and how it relates to our own personal and communal spiritual journeys. Let’s think about what many of us consider “normal” interpersonal behavior and how that might shift if we consider various cultural perspectives.
First of all, the term “white supremacy.” I know it puts a lot of people off, especially white people, because it was, for many years, primarily used to describe what I would now call “white nationalism.”
White supremacy is simply a description of a condition of life in the US…the idea and lived experience that whiteness and its expressions and privileges are normative. White hegemony rules the day in almost any mixed groups, and certainly in the halls of power of the United States. That is what “white supremacy” means when I using it: more than white privilege, it is the rule of whiteness in the culture in which I live.
There is a book called, Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun. It is a brilliant look at how white supremacy permeates our culture, and it offers suggestions for remedies to symptoms of white supremacy culture. There is an excellent .PDF available from the book, and if you simply search, “white supremacy Okun” it will come up for you. It is that .PDF which I am using to explore conditions of white supremacy and how they keep all of us from understanding our Deepest, Wisest Selves. I’m also going to look at how these conditions or characteristics keep us separated from one another and forestall or dismantle the sense of community that is necessary for liberation.
The condition about which I write today is “sense of urgency.” I take this to mean that often, especially in groups of white or largely white people working together, there is a sense that we must accomplish what is on our plate as soon as possible. (Goddess knows, I have this issue!) That speed is more valuable than consideration. That it is more important to finish than to hear people out. That deadlines are more important than people. That’s my take on it, at least.
Especially, though not only, for Unitarian Universalists, whose Principles include the use of the democratic process and justice and equity in human relations, an unnecessary sense of urgency is counter to our values. In traditions that value circles rather than pyramids, unnecessary urgency is also opposed to values of inclusion and hearing people out.
There are two things that come to mind when I think of this “symptom.” One is that it privileges clock time over human thoughtfulness. Sometimes we just need more time to consider a decision. Sometimes an issue ought to be tabled so that people have time to cool off from a conflict. Sometimes we just don’t know how we feel when an issue is first brought up.
The other issue–and this is a big one for me, I know–is the idea that accomplishment, achievement, and busyness are among the highest virtues to which one may aspire. What hogwash!
Even as I write this edition of Reflections for you, I am secretly (now not-so-secretly) complimenting myself for working on it early, for getting it up to date ahead of schedule, for using the time I have created by doing other things early to do more work.
What if I made a different choice? What if, instead of working more and harder, I took the time to write in my journal? What if, instead of being so pleased with my work, my accomplishments, I allowed myself time just to stare out at the the beautiful, steel-gray sky and the rain on the wisteria? What if, instead of giving myself a totally arbitrary sense of urgency, I allowed myself some rest?
These are all total valid alternatives to pushing ourselves further, harder, faster. Jones and Okun also note that leaders need to know that group projects almost always take longer to accomplish than we might expect. The authors go further to encourage learning from past timelines to allow for inclusion, diversity of opinion (as well as identity), and organic process that leads to well-discerned outcomes.
Inclusion is a spiritual practice of welcome. Welcoming the strange(r). Welcoming serendipity. Welcoming what is unknown. Welcoming the unexpected.
The United States is showing how radically UNwelcoming we can be. If we care enough to be more inclusive, more diverse in many ways, and more welcoming, we will discover a meaningful spiritual discipline.
Where is this issue showing up for you? Where do you and your opinions feel shut out by a need for speed? Where are you not attending to others’ feelings, needs, opinions, and contributions?
I invite us all to allow ourselves and others the space we need to consider wisely, to discern well, and to ask the questions that need asking. I invite us to welcome, welcome, welcome. And as many of us prepare to think of a child and his family where birth happened in a barn and and an infant smuggled out of the country, I encourage us to think on what that means for our life and practice.
Blessings on you and on your house–
No Need to Beware!
The Ides of December is coming, yet there’s no need to beware. Rather there is the opportunity for tender, life-giving time shared with others who will go into the dark of the season with you. Going into the Dark, the Zoom-enabled retreat from your comfy home, is a beautiful time of care and holding all that the year has entailed, all that we grieve, all that we hope for, all that is lost, and all that is coming. It is a wonderful time, truly. Deep, comforting, close and holy darkness.
For more details and to register, go to the Going into the Dark page
Going to the MFC?
Hello, friends. First, love and thanks to everyone who’s worked with me and went to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee this past week. I hope you are feeling held in love, care, and celebration of your being, no matter how your panel interview went. Blessing on you as you integrate and take in your experience.
I am taking clients for the next two cohorts — I have one space for spring and three for the following cohort. If you’re interested in discussing the possibility of our working together, you may of course schedule a free consultation and assessment with me at on this page or first get more information about my philosophy and approach here.