i somehow got into two Facebook argumersations yesterday at the same time. TWO! i can’t remember that happening before. i usually try pick my battles one at a time, but somehow, two different articles i shared, generated two different fairly strong push backs.
Which i love. i love it when people push back and are genuinely committed to the conversation and engaging and not simply being trolls or palookas. But sometimes [especially when it’s people i don’t know so well] it is hard to tell. So i continue to engage while i think there is some point to the conversation [and as i’ve probably written before, often i am writing more for those who are looking on at the conversation as they tend to be more likely to change their mind or be affected by what is shared] and for me it really is a deep search for truth. A truth i typically have a strong belief in [otherwise why bother engaging] but also one that is in the midst of being wrestled with and grown and adapted as it is challenged by what i read, experience and by what people say.
BUT IT CAN BE REALLY HARD. And lonely. And so when a second person joined in to the one conversation and said some things backing up what i was saying, it felt like the hugest breath of fresh air and after a few posts i actually jumped on her Facebook page and simply said – thank you.
But like i said, it can be really hard. Is this going to make any difference? Am i really right about the things i am arguing strongly for? Why doesn’t this person see that they are wrong [if they are]? Is this person being genuine or are they a troll or someone who doesn’t even really care about this stuff.
Both conversations yesterday related to Race and Privilege in South Africa, two topics i care so much about and which affect so many people i am in relationship with [well they affect everyone in South Africa but there are a lot of my friends that are deeply invested in this conversation and life going forwards] and i have put a whole lot of time into research and reading and listening and watching and trying to understand. Does that mean i’m the expert? Absolutely not. But it means i’m deeply invested in this stuff and quite often the person arguing has not put as much into this particular conversation’s journey. Also if i have five of these in one week [one per day plus the weekend off] then at the end of the week each of the people i have been chatting to have had one and probably feel completely fresh and yet i have invested in five and feel completely exhausted. Especially cos often it feels like i am alone or in the minority of people who are prepared to invest in this way.
A lot of people think i’m wasting my time engaging. Or engaging so often and so deeply. And so obviously that question constantly swirls around my head as well. What difference is this going to make?
Well, this morning i received an email from a friend who shared some thoughts about one of the conversations i have been involved in. They shared what it meant to them personally and they shared some insight into their personal friendships with white people and other spaces of wanting to and trying to engage with these kind of situations.
It was one of the most powerful emails i have received in my life. Both in terms of encouragement but also a lot of punch-in-the-face reality call about “life out there” for many people. More than anything it gave me the encouragement and the boldness to carry on.
i don’t always get it right. i am certainly not a Race, Reconciliation and Privilege expert in any way. But i believe this conversation is so vitally important in South Africa right now [Americaland has its own very similar conversation that white people seem hesitant to get involved in, possibly because of the potential cost involved there] and so i’m not going to stop any time soon.
But i do hope more people who feel the same kind of passion and heart for the topic will jump in more. And i do hope we will create more conversation spaces around meals, face to face, and within our friendship groups that there can be safe space to speak about uncomfortable and sometimes awkward topics such as these. We have a long walk to go before any kind of everyone-freedom is realised and the more of us that commit ourselves to the conversation and the ensuing action, the better…
Thank you thank you thank you, to my friend, for the most powerful, encouraging and inspiring email. i will fight another day.