Reconciliation and People of Peace


Several years ago I was urged to foster a certain characteristic which has stuck with me (well, the call has stuck with me, I’m not sure whether the characteristic is something which I achieved yet or not). An older (than me) and wiser (than me) mentor in ministry said, “Bret, you need to strive to become a non-anxious presence.” Looking back on that period of my life I believe that was certainly the case and that admonition has been one that I find myself returning to on a regular basis.

When tempers are flaring, does my presence add to or alleviate the drama? Do my words tend to calm those who are upset or upset those who are struggling to remain calm? Does my body language invite others to take a deep breath or push them to hold their breath?

I am a somewhat opinionated and admittedly stubborn person. I feel strongly and people don’t usually have to wonder about what it is I feel so strongly. Is it even possible for me to be this non-anxious presence and also remain a passionate person?

I think it is, though I admit I’m unsure as to how well it’s going for me!

My brother, Adam Wells is also very interested in the concept of peace and reconciliation. This past year (during his 1st senior year as a domestic missions major at ACU) he began to develop a reputation as a person of peace. He served as the chaplain for the Student Peace Alliance…which apparently turned out to be less concerned with substantial work toward peace and reconciliation as it was a gathering place for neo-hippies…

He’s now been approached by the officers and leadership of another group on campus and asked to serve as chaplain for them next year. This time he’s already had the opportunity to engage with this group and knows that there is a desire (at least among some) to participate in real healing and reconciliation on campus. It is going to be difficult but I think the very fact that he’s been asked to join them is both a testament to his presence and maturity and the seriousness of this group.

This club, Essence of Ebony, was founded by a group of concerned students who wanted to provide aspects of African American culture through a black history program. Particularly for racial reconciliation, awareness is an important first step – as was the recent apology on behalf of the University made by President Royce Money for the racial injustices which ACU was a part of. However, there is a growing recognition, which Adam shares, that in order for reconciliation to take place, these first steps cannot be treated as the end goal. Awareness and apologies set the stage for reconciliation – they are not themselves the full expression.

For reconciliation to truly take place, both groups (or however many groups are involved) must be willing to work toward a new future. I’m sure that different people have different perspectives on this, but from what I witnessed while a student at ACU, this understanding of reconciliation has not been the express goal of Essence of Ebony.

My prayer is that my brother and the leadership of EOE will be able to make some legitimate strides toward reconciliation on campus, which will hopefully set the stage for individuals and groups to impact their congregations and communities. The following is a poem that Adam wrote as one of his final projects this semester – I believe it’s intended as an oral piece…so read it out loud if you can! I’d like to say a few things about the theological implications, but I think I’ll wait until folks have had a chance to read the words themselves.

Maybe I can coerce my brother out of summer-vacation mode and engage him in some conversation on this…

Reconcile?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

He made man in his image and gave him his breath

And there in the garden they thrived together,

Naked blissful ignorance in utopia forever.

And he gave man a partner

So he wouldn’t grow lonely

And he said she was good, and she was good and oh how good she was

Man grew away from God and close to her because OH HOW GOOD SHE WAS!

Then one day they shared an apple

And they were out as sin came in

Curiosity killed the cat

And that’s all there is to say about that.

So they worked hard and toiled the land

Fought with snakes and gave birth in pain

You all know the famous fable

But then it got dark when Cane killed Able.

And that’s what I want to talk about

I want to tell you a story throughout time

Sit back relax and listen as I spit to you these rhymes.

Germanic tribes roaming south and taking over

The warrior king from the north, raping and pillaging

Hustling through the land of my people

Not hesitating for family or steeple.

So they took what was there

It was all at their disposal

Reach out your hand it take what you desire

When you’re the strongest you get what you require

Be it respect or be it cash money

Or be it maybe even both

Kill them if they oppose or deny you

You’re bigger than them, don’t let them defy you.

And you can rule this land for a little glimpse of time

But be weary of the next great power

That’s chomping at the bit to take over

Take your mind off your goal for just a minute and they’re here

All the sudden you find reality in that which you always feared.

Somebody else is stronger

And you are no longer the biggest

Somebody else it taking over,

Because you’re no longer the fittest.

Although Darwin hadn’t said it yet

And you don’t know who he was

He was right and you understand, this

It’s a dog eat dog world and its survival of the fittest.

So the tribes faded out

And the Church began to take over.

You’re crazy if you think oppression is something of the past

They were more ruthless than the last, Guys who ran this place

So with the church in power the rape and pillaging started over

But this time it wasn’t the same

It was better, don’t you understand. They did it in GOD’S name.

So it’s all ok for us to oppress the poor.

Have a class system with only two levels once more

Where the rich get richer

And poor get poorer.

But that’s ok, they aren’t of noble birth

They couldn’t deal with the real issues of life

Why don’t they just realize

Things are how they are because they are simply uncivilized.

Their blood isn’t as pure as mine

And they aren’t worthy of my respect

It’s not my fault I was born upper class

They can get over it or kiss my,

Ask yourself this

Then sit back and ponder if you will

How it is that in the name of God

That we decided it was alright to kill,

The descendants of his chosen people,

Barbaric as they may have been

We waged war on a continent

To which we had never been.

But oh how we fought valiantly

And how we showed bravery.

We killed those savage Muslims

And we took their holy city, Jerusalem.

But that wasn’t enough for us

As nothing has ever been

We expanded our empire into every known place

We imposed our God on every new face.

Then one day in early colonization

A black man approached us with

An unbeatable proposition.

He said “I’ll sell you my brother

For some measly pieces of gold”

We had it in abundance,

So without a second’s pause we declared SOLD.

So we bought them by the thousands

And shipped them away from their home.

But it wasn’t really that unfair be-CAUSE

We gave them a new life, in the civilized AMERICAS!

We made them do our biddings

Simply because we were bigger.

We defaced their humanity

And labeled them lowly niggers.

So we’ve been out of the garden

For a few thousand years

Yet we haven’t made progress

Still living in fear

Our sin separated us from God

And it still does so today.

Our humanity made us killers then

And tell me when that stopped, when?

Now we can’t understand

Why the whole world hates us.

We took from them the gift of life

And gave them back nothing but strife.

“BUT we have apologized, why can’t they understand

We said we were sorry

We have done all we can”

Well you and I both know that that’s a load of crap

Its time we actually stand up and do something

To break this nasty cycle,

Its time we stand up look our brothers in the eye

And reconcile.

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Posted on May 8, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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