Of Reconciliation

I had the most inspiring conversation tonight.

A week or so ago, a friend reached out to see when we could catch up over dinner – not having spent time with her in a while I was eager to make this happen soon, so today it was.

I couldn’t have come up with where the conversation went.

Unbeknownst to me, my friend who was born and raised in Alabama comes from a background not uncommon to many of our white brothers and sisters in the South – a home nostalgic for the ‘good old days’, with stories of chasing black men across acres of land with a rifle and nothing but disapproval for places where whites and blacks would share the same world.

She had seen me post snippets of my trip to the South and was curious to hear about my experience down there.

I can honestly say we had the most refreshing conversation.
Often when I talk to white friends about racism, there’s that awkward sense of ‘oh but it wasn’t me, don’t talk about it you’re making me uncomfortable, what my parents did isn’t my fault, oh but it’s all in the past, etc’ – tonight couldn’t have been further from that.

From her genuine interest in my experience to the matter-of-fact acknowledgement of how things were and still are, to the desperate and genuine desire to work out how she could play her part in making a difference and changing the narrative of race in a country deeply divided – it truly blessed me to share with her tonight.

So that’s why I’m sharing this with you:

I learnt a lot tonight.
I was reminded that listening and asking questions is most undervalued in our polarised, outraged society.
I learnt that anyone can change and that even those raised in the most prejudiced of worlds can – if they choose to listen to the still small voice of love in their hearts – access transformation power and make a stand to be different.

And become someone who speaks up against injustice and oppression.

I remembered that dialogue is crucial and that I want to be the kind of person that seeks out conversations with those who could be of a different opinion than me, could disagree with how I see, the world and how things go.
I don’t want to be the one waiting and hoping for ‘time to heal all wounds’ but want to actively participate in bringing this healing to pass – for I believe that’s what we’re called to do.
I want to be the person seeking understanding, reconciliation and unity.

Not the one sowing into the soil of misunderstanding, divide, hate and fury.

That’s how we change the world.
One brave decision at a time.
One conversation at a time.
One dinner at a time.

Thank you for dinner friend – you know who you are.
I’ve learnt a lot tonight.