Never before have I screamed as loud, or as often, in my own home when I am the only human in the building as I have in the last week plus.
And my throat is sore.
And it’s been the last 48 hours where I’ve realized my rage is in many ways turned inward. I’m angry with myself. I’m angry for my cowardice. I’m angry for the ways I am able, as an upper-middle-class white male, to have the language of sorrow without the reality of risk when it comes to issues and conversations of race, religion, politics, and power.
So when I scream, knees bending and legs falling to the nasty kitchen floor multiple times, night after night, I’d like to accept that I’m mostly screaming at myself. I’m furious, heartbroken, exhausted, and… and… but I’m screaming alone, in a home by myself where no one can hear and no one will expect it.
Perhaps that’s why shooting a force of voice and growl and tears and volume from a deep place seems like something that should help, but doesn’t.
And it hasn’t.
It has not helped.
And while the art of blaming someone else is a craft I’m quite skilled at and perhaps am spiritually gifted in, I am feeling more sharply tonight that I am ultimately falling into tears on the dirty tiles of the kitchen floor with guttural screams yelling at myself more than anyone else.
So I would like to apologize.
Friends of mine who talk to me in the flesh ever, whether occasionally or often, are not offered the luxury of wondering how I think or feel about certain issues, causes, people, politics, etc. I learned many years ago that I am or can be a quite exhausting friend in these ways.
I’m okay with that.
They know it. Because they know it, I’m argued with sometimes. Sometimes, often really, I am intentionally NOT invited into conversations about issues of race, policy, poverty, wealth, religion, power, justice, politics, etc. because I’m going to be “that guy” and there’s really just no time for that.
I’m okay with that too.
So why the apology?
I’ve still been lying. That’s why. I’ve been sitting next to you in church and I’ve been trying to be as quiet as possible because I don’t want to upset YOU by speaking out about your hatred toward some other group of human beings. You won’t call it hatred, you will call it holiness or doctrine, which you and I have both known is nonsense but it’s appropriate in these parts so you are used to people nodding and not saying anything.
So I’m sorry I didn’t say anything.
I’m not sorry to you, by the way. You were fine all along. But you were operating within a ‘spiritual world’ in the US south that allowed you permission to think God was on board with your racism and sexism.
And I’m sorry about that.
I am very, very sorry.
Not sorry to you. I’m sorry to every man or woman of color, every man or woman of the lesser, whether gay or poor or, hold your breath for the worst yet, any “liberal” man or woman.
I am very, very sorry. To you, black woman. To you, gay man. To you, “liberal woman” or “crazy-leftist” man.
I am very, very sorry. I’ve been able to slide past these comments of hatred from bishops, small group members, elders, choir members, church founders, big donors. Since I’ve been able to stay under their radar, I’ve been able to stay quiet.
But you’ve died.
But you’ve been starved.
But you’ve been hated.
But you’ve been ridiculed.
But you’ve been badmouthed.
But you’ve been called less-than, other-than, not-than.
And since I could slide by,
I’ve been hoping to find ways to
speak to the issue without losing my place of privilege.
For that, I apologize.
But apologies can be as
using tear-gas to take a photo-op
in front of a church building
holding a Bible
that says I’m running away from
the kingdom of God.
So I am sorry.
To my sisters and brothers of colors,
to my sisters who love sisters
and my brothers who love brothers,
to those who are living and finding beauty in ways they’ve been told
can’t be honored by the God of
beauty and the God of
choosing power in those who are told they do not belong…
I am sorry.
But my apology runs the risk of emptiness
just as my association with ‘good’ runs the risk of being co-opted
if I’m not willing to be excluded with you for simply honoring your belonging.
When you are excluded, I’ll take it as an invitation to us both.
I won’t slide by anymore.
So I’m done fitting in under the guise of thinking
I might be of more help ‘from the inside.’
I’m struggling with going to church,
because too many of those in the church feel too safe spewing hatred at you.
They now spew hatred at me.
If you can’t be a part of my ‘church’
then I cannot either.
If you cannot be treated with dignity and justice and respect from the church,
then I cant be a part of that ‘church’
I’m sorry it’s taken me this long;
I’m sorry it’s taken me an unacceptable amount of time.
I’m sorry it’s taken me far more than 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
To the elderly man and woman who spew hatred on social media
to entire worlds of people different from themselves,
if you are what my church is,
then I am not a part of this church.
To the put-together professor, homemaker, clergy, banker, or lawyer,
if you are not willing to put your name next to the implications
to lives of those of color, of poverty, of immigration status, of sexuality…
then you are letting me know that you are not willing to put your name with me.
I won’t need you to leave.
I won’t try to get rid of you.
I’ve learned over the last 30+ years that churches don’t do that well.
I’ll consider it an honor to move toward the margins
and find a home there with those
honored by God for the mere fact that you
in your confusion
have decided aren’t as worthy as you.
dear choir member,
dear youth minister,
dear family friend,
dear deputy sherrif,
dear part-time cop,
dear best friend,
dear food delivery dude,
dear retired doctor,
dear retired teacher,
I’ll be calling you
and writing you
because I’ve not been telling you the truth about
what I’ve heard you say and what I’ve seen you do.
I’ve been too gentle as you’ve been racist.
I’ve been too silent as you’ve been hateful.
I’ve been too self-protective as you’ve been granting benefits.
I’ve been too grateful as we’ve been blindly privileged.
I’ve pretended my gentleness, silence, self-protection, and gratitude
are part of a longer, wiser, more cautious game.
They are only part of cowardice.
I should have told you.
I should have told myself.
I’m sorry I’ve waited this long,
in an attempt to save something for myself
while it continues to cost the lives of others,
I’ll be calling you
and writing you.
I want to make sure we have the chance to talk it through.
I want to make sure you are given the space to tell me I misunderstand your stance.
But tiptoes won’t be walked on around you and your answers anymore.
You’ll be asked to speak it clearly
because the lives of too many people have been lost
while I’ve been trying not to put you on the spot.
If that means whatever I thought you and I shared together,
I’m sorry for just now realizing that I’ve been playing a game all this time.
For that I’m so, so, so very sorry.
And it can’t happen anymore.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They’ll learn what it was all worth to begin with.
Pine Tree Drive