RECAFFEINATED MONDAYS: The Path Forward

What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.
– Mother Teresa

Since last week we solved racism, COVID, and economic recovery, this week we’re moving on.

I wrote that statement on Saturday. Sunday morning, I woke up to the news that a group of protesters had toppled a Confederate statue in Richmond’s Monroe Park. This after the Mayor and City Council have indicated that the statues will be removed. I’m pretty sure they didn’t ask for help.

I’m also sure that, as I said last week, removing the statues isn’t going to fix anything.

Also, on Saturday I posted a tribute to D-Day on Facebook. I said, and I still believe, that I will stand in their honor and for my country. I also acknowledged that the freedom they fought for also allows you to choose otherwise.

Apparently, I am living rent-free in someone’s head on the Northside.

I won’t apologize for believing that this is still the greatest country on earth, even with our problems.

Okay, enough of that for now. This discussion isn’t going away and I’m not going to solve it in one post.

Well, I could if y’all would listen to me, but for now, let’s move on.

Actually, to be honest, this weekend I didn’t feel much like moving at all.

We already know that last week was a stressful week. We also know that I’ve already noted that it did not directly impact me other than the stress of watching and trying to write in a reasonable manner about things that I still find difficult to articulate.

But it was also a stressful week for me at work. A mid-week meeting under new guidelines allowing for electronic public meetings (previously prohibited until recent General Assembly action), was challenging, and at times frustrating.

I won’t elaborate because I don’t like to spend too much time talking about the day job here. But there were multiple times in the process when we wanted to scream “would you just be quiet and let us take care of this?”

We did not. Neither did they.

After that I had to work on a video project. Have I mentioned that I don’t do video?

My 40th college class reunion at Asbury University is coming up. We’re gathering virtually this year. So, there’s a reunion choir, and a choir of my classmates singing our class hymn. I thought recording the videos would be easy.

They were not.

I’ve been working lately to figure out video. To get to that point, the first step I took was completely redoing my home office. Over Memorial Day weekend I took everything out, moved the furniture and set it up for what I hope will work for doing video Santa visits in December. But the recording and broadcasting is far above my level of expertise. On a side note, the equipment I apparently need to do the Santa visits is apparently far above my bank account expertise.

My son helped use what I have to record the reunion videos on my iPhone while listening to the iPad. I needed a blank background and there are no blank walls in my office. By the time we were ready for me to record we had completely emptied one wall, covered it with a sheet, and moved every light in the room.

When I went to record, I realized how long it has been since I’ve done any real singing. For one thing, it’s been years in church since the songs were sing-able (yes, I said that). It’s somewhat better in our new church but we were only there a few weeks before the pandemic hit.

So, reality is that the last time I did any real singing was the Christmas show at the amusement park, some six months ago.

I’m already feeling the effects of the gym (and the pool) being closed. Thus, the statement above about not feeling like moving much at all. The pool is how I manage my arthritis.

All this to say that the project of recording the videos was more difficult than I thought. Once I got semi-comfortable with the technology, I did not like hearing my voice. Fortunately, my voice will not be alone and the collective harmony should drown out my pitchiness.

All of the gurus out there are telling me that everything has to go virtual. It just wears me out.

I am SUCH a print media person.

Also, you kids get off my lawn.

I realize that I’m not doing a very good job, if any at all, of addressing current events today. I’m just filling you in on MY current events.

That doesn’t mean I’m not watching. I am.

It doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what I should be saying and doing. I am.

Like I’ve said, one hastily written, emotional blog post by me isn’t going to fix anything. And, if we’ve learned anything this week it’s perhaps that a rush to action can do more harm than good.

Interpret that as you will.

This week I’m going to work on listening to others speak and trying to understand.


What Will You Do?

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
I Corinthians 12:31

The memorial service for George Floyd was yesterday.

The officers involved have been arrested and charged.

Millions of dollars in economic damage has been done.

Multiple people are dead, including at least two black officers.

The Confederate monuments in Richmond are coming down.

That was just in the last week.

Other than the fact that I had to move a meeting location on Wednesday because our downtown office was closed, none of this really impacted me directly.

That is not to say that it didn’t affect me. Like you, I’ve run the course of emotions this week.

And, I don’t run.

So, I’m tired. And if the news wasn’t bad enough, then I read that Kentucky Fried Chicken is taking potato wedges off the menu. Now it’s personal.

To be honest, I don’t remember the last time I had potato wedges from KFC, tending to opt for the mashed potatoes.

But, like I said yesterday, everything is going to change.

I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of the fight. I’m just not sure I’m allowed to be.

Can we just also pause for a minute and talk about how many thousands of people were at the memorial? Or how many thousands of people have been on the streets over the last week?

If there’s a second wave, it’s pretty clear where it’s going to come from.

I established several times this week my opposition to the rioting and looting. These are far different than protesting. They’re more harmful than helpful.

Yes, I’ve seen the BS memes about how opposing the looting means you don’t value Floyd’s life.

Spare me unless you’re willing to admit that you don’t value the lives of David Dorn, or David Underwood or multiple others who died in the violence.

In the months and years to come, we will find that the looting and the rioting did far more damage, especially economically, to the communities they said they were fighting for.

Here in Richmond, Broad Street was a failing eyesore for years. The expansion of VCU along the corridor brought businesses and prosperity. Now, many of those buildings, a lot of them holding minority-owned businesses, are boarded up. Multiple business owners have indicated that they will not return to the city.

Likewise, Richmond’s trendy Carytown section is all boarded up. What’s a hipster to do?

More to the point, on the first night of rioting, a city bus was set on fire and destroyed. It will take about $500,000 to replace that bus.

How much of that $500,000 could be put towards crumbling city schools where it’s not even safe for kids to go to the bathroom?

Okay, I have to stop. It’s the weekend and I have places I can’t go.

But maybe we can all spend some time this weekend thinking, and praying, about where we go from here.

There will be no reconciliation until the rioting and looting stops.

Likewise, there will be no reconciliation until some serious issues of systemic racism are addressed.

Street fires and tearing down monuments won’t fix either.

In fact, no grand program, no grand gesture will fix these issues.

It’s a matter of the heart and it has to happen one at a time.

In the normal times, I don’t listen to talk radio. I like to listen to WRVA for John Reid in the morning drive time and Jeff Katz in the afternoon drive time. Deal with it.

But since I’ve been home, I’ve left the radio playing some days.

So, I was intrigued when I heard Rush Limbaugh having a conversation with The Breakfast Club, no not the movie.

You know who Rush is.

The Breakfast Club is an American syndicated radio show based in New York City hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne tha God. All African American.

I didn’t hear all of the conversation, but what I heard was open and frank. At times, they were talking past each other. But they were talking.

In another story, a friend noted that his police officer friend reached out. The officer said that no on hates a bad cop more than a good cop. More importantly, he said that he would be willing to talk to a gathering of friends. At least to have a conversation.

This is where the healing starts.

So, the question is then, what are you going to do about it?

What positive steps are you going to take towards racial reconciliation, racial healing?

Marching isn’t enough. Donating to the “cause” isn’t enough. Changing your profile picture isn’t enough.

Stop trying to make yourself look more diversity-er than thou on social media and spend a little time thinking about how you interact with that co-worker, that neighbor, that grocery store clerk.

And yeah, maybe even that policeman.

Maybe it’s as simple as reaching out to that friend or acquaintance from another race, another background and saying “help me understand.”

It’s a start.


 

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash