Wednesday, March 29, 2006

do you mind...

...if i skip the apologies and explanations as to why i have not written since the nixon era? i really have not had much to say, if you can believe that. (by the way, i just found this post on rahabs & gomers that made me wet myself...again. funnier for men, enjoyable for all not easily offended or's titled, "sewer rats...")

i have been thinking a lot about conflict lately. the main question that comes to my mind is, "how much is too much?" i mean, i think most of us would agree that growth is almost impossible without some amount of conflict, especially the communal type growth that jon has been discussing. conflict can bring us to a crisis point where we are forced to identify and often articulate what we believe. i think that is a good thing.

what about persistent, less-than-productive conflict? what about people on opposite sides of a debate who are not open to change, but who continue to debate/discuss anyway? isn't there a point where we just need to let it go? that is not really rhetorical...i really want to know.

this question comes at an interesting point in the school year for me, as we are working our way through the civil rights movement of the 1950s/60s. this was an era in which a committed core of political leaders actually saw the benefit (whatever they deemed that benefit to be...cold war image, new democratic voters, etc.) of aligning themselves with a massive, growing-daily, grassroots movement. how rare an alliance this has proved to be!

college students and preachers, schoolchildren and grandparents, rich and poor, engaged in conflict with the ruling authorities not because they wanted to stir up trouble, but because they knew their cause was just. they were not rowdy anarchists, but rather citizens unwaveringly committed to the rule of law and the democracy it makes possible. and when the conflict became overwhelming? when they ended up bloodied, or worse? they just kept going.

they never said, "well, as much as i personally would enjoy full rights and integration into american life, i see the point of Gov. Wallace and the segregationists too...we do tend to be a threat to the good southern way of life." i guess what i am seeing is that they never hedged their bets. they knew their cause, they knew it was just, and they refused to stop working, sweating, fighting and dying until they ushered in justice.

mlk described those who refused to give up as having, "the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer." (please read "letter from birmingham city jail" in its entirety sometime soon) see, now that makes sense to me. that brings so much of my own life into perspective. i have so rarely felt that pioneer's "agonizing loneliness," because i stick with the crowd, one foot in, one foot out, doing the ideological hokey-pokey in order to avoid opposition...conflict.

well, i have a dream today, too. my dream is that i will learn to stand firm in those convictions that i know are just, and that i will not be satisfied until i have done all i can do to bring truth, love, justice, and grace to my world.


kara said...

Wow. That's my husband who just said those things!

sara and matt said...

That was a cool post! Thanks, Cory.
Reinhold Neibuhr, a theologian in the early to mid 20th century, wrote a book called Moral Man and Immoral Society. In it he argues that individuals are capable of moral behavior, including putting the needs of others ahead of their own, but groups of people, whether racial, national, or whatever, cannot help but become self-serving and oppressive to those not in the group. If that is true, individuals guided by higher ethical principles will always be in conflict with authorities.
I think that the civil rights movement gives us a good example of engaging dhe dominant culture in nonviolent confrontation. Thank you for sharing what you're learning about it in this post.