#SilentDay

#silentday

I would like to propose a challenge of sorts for those of you on social media … especially those who are politically or socially minded.  This is not an effort to change views, but to help us consider how we might better communicate.

Here is the challenge:

  • #silentday
    • Set aside one day to go silent on social media during the week.
    • This is not a day of silence in memorial of anything or anybody
    • This is not a day to stay away from social media.
    • Spend time on social media, but do not post anything except to explain your participation. You can share this page or write your own. (include the #silentday)
  • Browse
    • Immerse yourself in opposing views
    • Read only posts, tweets, blogs, articles of those you disagree with
    • You may have to unblock or re-follow some people.
  • Empathize
    • Try to silence your own arguments.
    • Try to consider why they may hold that view. Don’t give in to the easy answer. Assume that they are intelligent. Dispose of labels.
    • Think about the emotions that these views evoke.  Does it make you angry? Sad? Frustrated? Defensive? Consider why you might feel that way.
  • Consider
    • Do you feel like you understand the other view better?
    • Have your views been modified? How?
    • What labels are used to represent your viewpoint?
    • What labels are used by your side to describe the opposition’s viewpoint?
    • Consider the tone of posts from both sides of the issue.  Are they persuasive, argumentative, inflammatory, sarcastic, degrading, or belittling?  Does the tone divide or reconcile?
    • How could you use social media to build bridges for reconciliation?
  • Action
    • Continue to listen even after your #silentday
    • Post any discoveries you have made (use #silentday)
    • Begin to build bridges of reconciliation.
    • Reach out to someone with whom you disagree and offer to listen without argument.

Why a #silentday?

Our world has become a place of noise

I have posted a page dedicated to silence.  Silence, Please to stress how important silence and stillness is to our ability to foster peace. It includes a selection from Brian Zahnd’s recent book Water to Wine: Some of My Story This

Listening requires us to develop quiet and respectful relationships

We live in one side of a small duplex next to Lynn’s mother and brother. This works pretty well most of the time. Usually it is Lynn and I, (even when Josiah is home from college he is usually cloistered in his cave in the basement). Oh … and our two dogs and Mother’s two dogs.  It works pretty well.  It is a nice quiet routine and life is pretty peaceful (other than barking and whining dogs).

There was a time when all seven of the children were all at home. One might think that there could be no peace and quiet, but that was not the case. Yes, there were those times when chaos overwhelmed our small living room. (University of Kentucky basketball brings out our wild side) Somehow our children learned that peace could only be maintained in our household, if everyone respected each other.  We learned to keep our voices down, wait our turn to speak, learned each others “buttons”, and tried to not take advantage of those buttons.  We also learned that we needed times of quiet and found ways to find it.  This is not to say that the family always got along, but we figured out that relationship requires sacrifice.Family

So how does it work, when all seven children, their spouses, their children, and their dogs all descend on the house at once?  Is just like old times? NO IT IS NOT! Each nuclear family has its own routine, their own agendas, their own way of doing things.  It requires great restraint to hold it together, to remember that relationship is more important than our individual agendas, and that we are much stronger when we stay together as a family.  Be quiet and listen to each other because relationships matter

We are screaming and no one is listening

#blacklivesmatter has shined a light into the darkest recesses of our nations soul.  We cannot continue to fool ourselves into believing that the consequences our nation’s original sin has been expunged.  The greed that enslaved an entire race, displaced the native Peoples, manipulated the masses into accepting that human beings are naturally “branded” as beasts by the color of their skin, and deceived “even the Elect” into contributing to the lie  … that same greed is still actively dividing the masses.

Angry Christians
Even the Elect

This past week, a friend of mine posted a meme from Huffington Post that said simply BLACK LIVES MATTER … 75 times and IT MUST BE SAID UNTIL IT’S HEARD.  Trust me … everyone has heard it. Saying it more is not going to bring understanding to those who hear the words but do not hear the message they convey?

BLM

Jesus and the Apostle Paul both quoted the Prophet Isaiah when the people who should know better refused to hear.

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
(Matthew 13:15, Acts 28:27)

As I considered this post and the many others like it, it occurred to me that we conversing with swords and we respond with shields & swords of our own.  Our desire is healing and we are utilizing instruments of war.

Unfortunately, those who are taking the brunt of the blame, the lower and middle class white population, don’t understand why this responsibility is falling on them. We have labeled the first generation whose children are worse off than their parents as white supremacists.  These are people who do not really feel supreme and find themselves the politically acceptable butt of jokes. (rednecks, hillbillies, etc)

So how does this naturally play out?

  • My black brother & sister become more frustrated and justifiably angry
  • My racist white brother becomes more defensive & enraged …
  • My police officer son becomes more fearful and more likely to make a poor decision which could cost him his life or the life of another
  • My liberal friends fill social media with rants and incendiary language which swells the rage
  • My conservative friends tighten their grasp on their guns, and fill their social media with their own poisonous memes
  • Violence escalates proportionally to the level of anger & fear generated.

Change does not come about without a voice, but neither does it come without pain and loss. As people of privilege, we are in a unique position to extend grace to the oppressed and the oppressor. Both are important.

To the oppressed, we must learn to listen, to love and to place our privilege at their disposal to allow them to positively impact society (not for us to define for them … btw)

To the supporters oppressor, we must find ways to abate the fear & anger and persuade them to see that although laws have changed, that generations of oppression and economic / political manipulation have divided us to prevent us from working together.

I don’t know how we do this, but I know that helping the élite power structures to divide us is not helping matters. I wonder if we are just playing into their hands.

Active vs Passive Silence

I can’t advocate silence. That would be the sin of the “white moderates” addressed by Dr. King in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail. But speech does not need to inflammatory.

We must be wise (not slow) in our efforts to forward the cause of justice to minimize the escalation of violence. Poorly chosen or timed words can have quite adverse consequences (probably not from those of us who no one knows). I say this in the belief and hope that violence is not the answer. I am not sure that everyone holds this belief.

So I advocate a #silentday … be silent, listen, empathize and then act with grace and wisdom. I hope you will join me.

 

 

Remembering the Sacrifice – ETC(SS) Hill

21 Gun Navy

Since I wrote this post several years ago, suicide rates for veterans and active duty military have continued to skyrocket to epidemic proportions. I think it appropriate to again remember that these are as much a casualty of war as those who lose their lives in actual battle. Unfortunately, these losses carry none of the honor that we associate with Memorial Day. I many cases, the sacrifice made by these individuals are no less (or more) heroic than any other service member.

Over the next few days I will be posting (or re-posting) some of my thoughts on my experience as an active duty service member, as veteran, and as the father / father-in-law of service members. Some of my thoughts may at times seem controversial and even unpatriotic. My intention is not to offend, but to help readers to understand a different perspective.

“The suicide rate for our veterans and active duty is around 50% higher than for their civilian counterparts, showing what a serious issue we have on our hands,” says Dr. Gerstenhaber. “This group of people have a tremendous amount of stress and they need to know it’s not a sign of weakness to seek help. We have programs in place that have been successful at helping to reduce the suicide rates, and we want to expand those to help others around the nation.” https://www.usveteransmagazine.com/2017/09/shocking-military-suicide-rates-identifying-signs/

Honoring the heroic comes naturally to most of us. The soldier who sacrifices his life to save the life of his comrade is a no-brainer for the average American with any heart at all.  Those who return home from overseas at Dover AFB in flag draped caskets leave an image that draw us all in and helps us to memorialize those who have fallen to protect our freedoms.  We will wince at the report of seven rifles fired three times and the haunting tones of Taps at the graves of those killed in training accidents and un-explainable murders while on duty receive on their home soil.  We rightly honor these service members and acknowledge the their sacrifice.

I have only personally known one individual who died while on active duty.  It is for him and all who have fallen at the hands of an enemy that attacks every service member that has chosen to put on the uniform and served his country in peace time or on the battle field.

Fouled Anchor

ETC(SS) Hill (Alias) reported to the USS Albany (SSN753) during our post-commissioning shakedown period.  A newly frocked Chief Petty Officer reported to take the reins of the Reactor Controls division.  Chief Hill arrived at a major cross roads in his career and his life.  He was a young ambitions submariner who had risen quickly to join the “Goat Locker” (Chief Petty Officer Mess) at the earliest opportunity. Add to this that he was one of the few nuclear trained black submariners in the fleet: It was obvious that he was a star on the rise.  Unfortunately, he was also making a transition that any career sailor is forced to make – transition to a non-deploying command.  Although not quite shore duty, we were home most nights.

To most, this would be perceived as a great opportunity to reconnect to the family.   To a sailor, this is often the most stressful time in their career.  Life for the service member while deployed although difficult and sometimes wrought with danger is “comfortable”.  Each day is filled with structure, focus, and purpose.  He is doing exactly what he has been trained (programmed) to do.  Yes … he misses his family and the life that he left behind, but that is something he does not have any control over so he loses himself in duty.

What about his family while he is gone?  They have to go on without him.  The spouse takes over the tasks in their marriage that he would fulfill if he were at home.  Mom’s become both Mom and Dad.  Yes … the family misses the service member and they acknowledge the hole that has been left, but that is something they do not have any control over so … they loose themselves in their duty.

Casket

Duty changes everyone.  Often times, the end of deployment finds strangers reunited without common purpose.  Chief Hill found himself locked in a battle between family and duty and there is rarely a winner in this battle.  He and the stranger that had once been in love with could not find enough common ground to rebuild; divorce was eminent.  A young, intelligent, and intensely proud man could not bring himself to surrender to defeat and succumbed  to the enemy of our soul.  Without note or notice, Chief Hill took his own life.

Chief Hill represents a casualty of war that is a constant threat; not only to those who put on the uniform, but for those that take up the duty of the military family.  No service member walks away unchanged.  Under the best of circumstances, one may endure and discover renewd strength through the experience, but in too many case families are destroyed and in some cases lives are lost.

No shots will be fired.  Taps will not haunt our dreams.  Heroes rarely are counted in their ranks. But as I reflect today I chose to memorialize the service members and families that have been sacrificed to serve you and me.  The ones who have fallen before the true enemy and author of all war.  I ask that you pray for those that are serving today that they will be stronger and better prepared than Chief Hill to face the unseen enemy of our souls.

Fair winds and following seas ETC. Rest in peace

Navy Bugler

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)