Cruel tasks

It is a cruel task, to frighten people in God’s name.

Vasilisa Petrovna (from Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale)

Thinking of so many things that depend on perspective. And if we altered that perspective just a bit, would it make a change for good. What does fear do for us? It may accomplish a temporary goal, but ultimately it kills the soul and seeds hatred. Fear doesn’t build love. It is a cruel mission to feel you have to inspire fear in order to do good.

Unrelated but perhaps not. Monday is MLKjr. day. I was listening to some (white) children discuss what they are learning for the first time in kindergarten about the Civil Rights movement. The phrasing was about how Black people couldn’t do things (like eat in restaurants or sit wherever they wanted on the bus) and how that was unjust. And it is unjust. But what more could be done if we tweaked the perspective from how Black people couldn’t do things to how white people prevented Black people from doing things. In the former phrasing, we are lacking the antagonist. It could be felt as an unfortunate situation but one that is no one’s responsibility except Black people who wanted to do those things (aka Civil Rights concerns only Black people). In the latter, we have the antagonist group named and with that naming comes responsibility. If we overtly acknowledge the complicity of white people in the unjust system, then Civil Rights becomes something that concerns us all.

It is a cruel task to whitewash history to assuage shadowy guilt and shame. Better to name it. Uncomfortable as it may be for some (for me, when I consider my ancestors’ complicity here).

This is a liberation.

At present, your business is to see.

– C.S. Lewis

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