For the past few weeks I’ve been attempting to figure out what I wanted to write to address everything that’s been happening in our country. During that time I’ve been watching videos, reading articles, having conversations, and attempting to deepen my understanding of the experiences of black Americans and racism in America. It’s a wide raging and nuanced issue that I’ll never fully be able to comprehend because I’ll never live it, but I’m endeavoring to understand it in the most complete way possible.
As I have, it’s been challenging. Both in the act of examining my own views and then putting them into coherent thoughts. I’ve come away with so many thoughts, feelings, and things I’d like to say that it’s been almost impossible to write anything of substance at all. To write about one aspect of the issue without writing about 3 others that are just as important and interdependent seems wrong. However, not saying anything felt just as wrong. When I tried, it’s come out as a stream of consciousness, jumbled mess. And if I’m completely honest, I’ve also been concerned about posting something that doesn’t perfectly represent me and my principles, for the chance of people accusing or assuming things that simply aren’t true.
That last statement has really plagued me over the last few days, and I think it’s plaguing the entire nation as well.
You see, between social media and the 24 hour news media we’ve locked ourselves into a place of being half afraid of saying anything, much less anything of real consequence, for the fear of “the other side” tearing us to shreds and labeling us things we’re not—whether it be racist, socialist, fascist, or whatever the “ist” of the day might be. We’ve reduced our conversations to sound bites & comments, likes & angry faces, gifs & memes, name calling & point scoring. Both “sides” bear the blame and are responsible. We’re all guilty of listening to respond, not to hear and understand. And it’s lead us to a place of severe mistrust of each other and our government, and an inability to have real, deep, meaningful conversations.
I’ve been working on another article over the past few weeks, highlighting what I believe are 2 overarching challenges that we face as society reopens from the COVID-19 shutdowns. As I was doing research I found some pretty stark statistics that I think lend themselves just as much to the challenges of racism and equality as they do Coronavirus. Here’s what I found…
According to Pew Research, Americans’ level of “trust [in] the government in Washington to do the right thing always or most of the time” is at an all time low of just 17%. Likewise and perhaps even more concerning, Pew says that an overwhelming 79% majority of adults in the United States say “Americans have ‘far too little’ or ‘too little’ confidence in each other.” They often say that perception creates reality and in this case, I’d say they’re right.
We don’t even trust that we trust each other. How are we ever supposed to have the deep, meaningful, and necessarily vulnerable discussions about race and racism that we need to have in America if we don’t have the confidence that the person across from us is well intentioned? For that matter, how are we going to any conversation about anything?
The answer, I believe, is we have to embrace the uncomfortable.
We have to be willing to be open with each other, be vulnerable. We have to understand and accept the reality that I’m going to say the wrong things sometimes. And you’re going to say the wrong things sometimes too. But instead of judging each other or jumping down each other’s throats, we instead choose to listen and seek to understand why we have the views we have and how we can help each other come to a more informed understanding and move forward together, unified.
It’s always been my vision for My RemARCs to be a place where that vulnerable and real discussion can take place. From the beginning it’s been about understanding life from a different perspective, and in doing so empowering each other to live remARCably. Most of the time that happens in the form of me writing an article and hoping that in some small way maybe I’m able to provide that different perspective. However, for the past few months I’ve had this idea of providing a way for us to really interact more and have more of a discussion rather than a one sided monologue.
Well, that idea has become reality at what I believe to be precisely the perfect moment. As I said, now more than ever we have to be willing to have meaningful, vulnerable, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations.
To that end, I’d like to invite you to join RemARCable Books!
RemARCable Books is a kind of social media book club where we can all journey together through a book and engage in a weekly—respectful, but open and honest—discussion about what we’ve been reading.
Every Thursday, one of our 4 (including myself) Discussion Leaders—who I’ll tell you more about in a minute—will post some of their thoughts and a few questions about that week’s chapter. Then you’ll be able to comment and discuss what you thought about that chapter with both the other Discussion Leaders and everyone else who’s reading along. There’ll be no wrong answers or well intentioned opinions that aren’t welcome. Just a time once a week for us all to learn from each other.
As for the Discussion Leaders, I figured that you might get a little tired of only hearing my thoughts. I know I’m pretty awesome, but even I get tired of me sometimes. With the goal of trying to allow an exchange of ideas from as many different views as possible, I figured the best way to do that was to bring on some friends to share their thoughts and experiences with you as well as mine… you’re not getting away from me that easy. So, that’s exactly what I did. Let me introduce you!
Jill is an author and speaker who, through adventure and play, helps people find joy, no matter what else is happening—good, bad or ugly—in life. She’s written 2 books, “A Hope Deferred: A Couple’s Guide to Coping with Infertility” and “Born To Be Wild: Rediscover the Freedom of Fun.” Currently she hosts a podcast called “Find Joy… No Matter What” that seeks to help you find JOY even in hard places. However, I first know Jill because of her other talents, playing the piano and organ at my church. I was always fascinated to watch her play. Only later, once I got to know her personally, did I find out that she was insanely funny and gifted as a writer as well.
You can check her out on her website jillbaughan.com or on Facebook and Instagram.
Funny story, Bryan was actually the High School Youth Minister at my church when I was in High School. I also might have been partially responsible for him being hired so, if you go to Cool Spring, you’re welcome… or I apologize. You decide.
After he was, it didn’t take long for us to become friends. He’s quick witted and sarcastic (probably why we became friends so quickly), but has a way of using that to cut through straight to the heart of the matter. In my own writing I often find myself thinking, “how would Bryan say this?”
He’s now the Missions and Discipleship Minister where he’s led multiple trips to Africa and cities throughout the United States. He also has a podcast called Don’t Forget This Podcast, but currently co-hosts on the REimagined podcast at Cool Spring Church.
You can check out Bryan on Twitter (@BryanDupuis), or on the DFTP Facebook page. He’s one of those people who don’t have an Instagram.
David is the Middle School Associate at Cool Spring Church. He graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Youth Ministry and is currently pursuing his Seminary degree.
In recent weeks he’s been a strong voice in sharing his experiences as a black American, both in society and in the church. He’s spoken on the REimagined podcast with Bryan and shared his thoughts after attending one of the many peaceful protests that have gripped our nation over the past month.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to get to know David very well personally, except through social media, because of my current circumstances. Sometimes, though, you can just tell about people that, if you had the chance, you’d be good friends. David is one of those people. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better and having him share his perspective with you as we journey through our first book.
There you have it. Those are your Discussion Leaders!
As I said, the goal of RemARCable Books is to allow us to understand each other’s experiences and views on a deeper level by reading and discussing books on a variety of topics. As we do, Discussion Leaders may rotate in and out, adding new voices for new topics and bringing back others after a book or two off.
Personally, I’m really looking forward to this opportunity and I think I’m safe in speaking for the other Discussion Leaders in saying they’re looking forward to it as well. As frustrating and maddening as social media can be sometimes, these are the types of things it was created for—to allow us to connect and have a conversation in a way that simply wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I hope you’ll join us in that conversation and invite your friends and family to as well.
So make sure, if you don’t already, that you’re following My RemARCs on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share this article so others can get involved too. And be on the lookout for us to announce the first book THURSDAY!
As I’ve been reading it to prepare for the discussion, it’s been thought provoking and challenging, but also encouraging and insightful. I think it’s the perfect book for the times we’re in. For far too long we’ve been blind or simply apathetic to the racism that still exists in our nation. We’ve come a long way, that’s for sure, but there’s still so much progress left to be made and so much work left to be done.
What if we are the generation to fully embrace Jefferson’s words that ALL men are created equal?
What if we are the generation to truly realize the dream of Martin Luther King jr?
What if we changed history? Not just in respect to racism, but in respect to every challenge we face.
It can all start with one conversation, but are you willing to listen? Are you willing to learn? Are you willing to change? Are you willing to have the conversation and embrace the uncomfortable?
If so, I hope you’ll join us for RemARCable Books as we journey together through reading, having those conversations, and hopefully understanding each other a little bit better.
See you soon!
Well, those are my remARCs. I hope they in some way, big or small, might have resonated with you. Whether it made you laugh, cry (I hope not too much), smile, or maybe think about life from a different perspective, I hope you take something away from this article that makes your day even the slightest bit better. I’d love to hear your remARCs as well. Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment on the My RemARCs Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages… unless you hated it. In which case, why are you even still reading this? Hope to see you back here soon. Until then, be well and live remARCably.