Being “kind and brave” with our own

20 Jun

There’s a common struggle I encounter in communities, when it comes to holding members and peers accountable for their actions and speech. The options seem to be:

A. Abide whatever was said or done, because the person “didn’t mean it” or “has a good heart.”

B. Kick them out!

This is, of course, a false dichotomy. And it masks the underlying issue of our own fears,  and lack of skills and practice putting bravery born of love into action.

Being “kind and brave” is something I first saw clearly articulated in the Color Brave Space principles (inspired by Mellody Hobson’s TED Talk “Color blind or color brave?“) shared on the Fakequity blog. According to Fakequity‘s team:

Fakequity=Fake Equity. Fakequity is bad.

It shows up as all talk and no action.

Being kind and brave is considering intention and impact, not pretending you can choose between them.

Is speaking up because you care.

Is holding someone accountable especially because you believe they’re a good person. 

Is coming from love, which isn’t just being nice: it’s being real.

This formal complaint against US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, issued by 640+ Methodist laity and clergy embodies the practice of being “kind and brave.” Even if you disagree with their position, notice how they present it:

  • They begin from a place of community that includes Sessions, rather than trying to deny or revoke his Methodist identity. (Consider all the times a community has claimed to be “shocked” by what someone has said or done because “that’s not who we are.” Actually, the facts would indicate that as egregious as the actions or words may be, that is also who your community is.)
  • They explicitly name their intention: reconciliation (not punishment or ostracization. This is not to say that there would be no consequences, but the intention in this complaint is that those consequences be decided and experienced within a community framework, not in isolation or excommunication).
  • They focus on what he has done, not who he is. When they do talk about who he is, they talk about him as a Methodist (in a really powerful public position) first and foremost, which is not used as an accusation but as a premise for why they must speak up. Because Jeff is family.
  • They offer hope. Not a simplistic “say you’re sorry and we’re good,” but a realistic and commitment-requiring (on all sides) aspiration to be on a “journey  with  him  towards  reconciliation  and  faithful  living  into  the  gospel.”

I keep re-reading this letter because it impels me to try to be more kind and brave, which fundamentally requires me to continue growing my recognition of how I’m family, whether by blood, organization or just humanity, with people whose ideas, actions and speech run contrary–sometimes deeply–to my own.


One Response to “Being “kind and brave” with our own”

  1. teamtameblog June 20, 2018 at 9:56 am #

    Nice one, Al! I like that analysis.

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