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Rebuilding The Bridges That Differences Broke



Belief - Respect - Intention - Differences - Gratitude - Equality - Solidarity

Russ Hudson- Facebook

October 2, 2017

Disasters of historic scale, one after another, have struck Texas, Florida, St John and Puerto Rico, while massive forest fires raged up and down the west coast, and now we reel from this senseless horror in Las Vegas.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed and to go numb, and to feel helpless in the face of all of it. I can feel my own urge toward despair. I can feel my urge to blame someone for this. And If there was ever a time to find inner ground, and a time to rededicate ourselves, it is now. Perhaps now is a time in which I can find strength, compassion, and wisdom beyond what I am usually able to see in myself or others.

I remember going downtown here in Manhattan to help some friends who lived near the World Trade Center a little while after September 11, and there were people from all over the USA and from other countries cooperating and doing their best to help out and to be strong for and with each other. I sat down in the street and cried at the goodness in people, in the mercy that comes after terrible things have happened. I sure would love to feel some more of that quality in our world today. Maybe you would too.

What do I want to have leading my choices and actions in the coming days? May we all receive what we need to show up with that realness and love. <3

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Charlottesville - A Reflection by Jayna Johns

August 13, 2017

The events in Charlottesville hit too close to home. For four years I called a small town an hour away home, and I go back to visit at every opportunity. I spent my college years sneaking away to Charlottesville to gorge on crepes made by a restaurant - if you can call it a restaurant - whose name I still don't know, meals purchased through a window and eaten standing outside. I’ve walked the streets of the sleepy college town in the spring sunshine, ignoring the stress of finals looming 70 miles away. My car still has Virginia plates. Southern Virginia will forever be a part of my heart.

I watched in person and from far away as my own sleepy college town fought over the place of the Confederate flag. I entered college believing in its historical value and graduated knowing it's a lie.

The university that I could not be any more insufferably proud to have attended honors Robert E. Lee in its name, its buildings, and its traditions, and exists today as is because of him. The Washington and Lee University administration and all connected to it struggle regularly with whether our connection to Lee has gone too far - a conversation I’m proud we have, though I ultimately support his place in our institution. To paraphrase a former classmate, we went to school with Robert E. Lee the educator, we did not go to battle with Robert E. Lee the general. Despite my permanent connection to him, make no mistake, a statue honoring General Robert E. Lee does not belong on American soil.

I have a deep and complex respect for the man that would take pages to dissect. I thank God it wasn’t me faced with his decision on which side to fight for, because I don’t know what I would do in the world that he lived in with the pressures that he faced. But Lee is not on trial. Taking down his statue is not a condemnation. It is not erasing history. No matter the pressures, no matter “the way the world was back then”, no matter any claims of good intent, Robert E. Lee ultimately decided it was more important to defend a state than to defend the rights and freedom of human beings. As long as we want to pretend we’re committed to the idea of all men being created equal, Lee’s decision, and any other connection to the Confederacy, has no place being memorialized and idealized in our country.

Despite spending my four undergraduate years in a student body where 90% of those around me shared my skin tone, by the grace of God I left W&L undeniably and painfully aware of how different my life is because I’m white, and quite frankly it's made me angry. The fact that we’re still discussing it as if it's up for debate makes me angrier.

The reason I passed college chemistry is because of a black woman who actually knew what we were doing in our labs; she could’ve done it alone, I probably would’ve set something on fire without her. That class ended my pre-med aspirations; my former lab partner is now a resident at a premier Texas hospital - the same hospital that saved the leg of a US soldier I went to high school with. The marchers in Charlottesville think my white skin makes me smarter than her.

The reason I survived college is because of an Indian woman who let me cling to her socially until I made friends on my own, who taught me what studying actually looks like, who stressed over her A- while I celebrated my C+, who dragged me out of bed to go to class when my adjustment to college wasn’t going well (and who graciously never got too annoyed at the disaster that was my side of the room :P). The marchers think my incredible ability to sunburn makes me more worthy than her.

These are two examples out of countless that have touched my life. White supremacy is a joke. It is a life raft clung to by those who have nothing to offer the world except an evolutionary accident. It is terrorism masquerading as patriotism. Anyone who thinks the White Supremacists had a point, anyone who thinks they have a legitimate reason to be upset, will not find an ally in me. Any defense of these events is irredeemable.

Anyone feeling targeted by these marches, my heart breaks for you; I know I alone can’t fix it, but we are not a minority in this matter. I promise I will not be silent, and I will not be complacent.

Amendment to my point about Lee's statue: After a conversation inspired by this post, I believe the addition of a plaque detailing Lee's complicated history, and possibly the addition of prominent Union supporters, may be a reasonable and valuable compromise. Quoting the person I spoke with, "I can't think of another losing General who is so universally respected while his side is so heavily condemned." Perhaps there is something to be gained from keeping his statue standing. My personal jury is still out.