A friend of mine works as a chaplain at a hospital in another river valley not that far from ours. She forwarded a heart-breaking blog post to me (https://rrayjr.blog), that concerned the racism a young, male Emergency doctor encountered in his residency there. It was, pointed, blatant and horrifying and the institution has not yet figured out how to acknowledge, let alone address, their issues.
In the meantime, they have lost a fine young doctor; forced him to work under hostile conditions — or lose his years of work in this school; shown themselves to be unwilling to foster the talents of all their students. All of this, in a time when there are already shortages of doctors.
It’s 2023, and, in too much of our world, we are seeing ignorant, ancient distortions of Love and Peace rising to terrify and to silence the terrified. Case in Point? This young man’s undisputed good work as a doctor. Another? The Southern Baptists reverting to denying women the right to preach and speak. They say, let’s go back. Let’s have Peace. I don’t know what you understand when you read the bible verse printed at the end of the article, but as a woman, a woman who has been sexually assaulted, I read that there are powers who have looked upon a woman’s wounds, a black man’s wounds, an entire denomination’s wounds — for it is not only the women who will suffer if they are not preaching and leading. Individuals and institutions have proclaimed that the injured individuals must make Peace rather than “troubling the waters” for those individuals and institutions.
Oh, I beg your pardon. Those waters have already been troubled by the perpetrators — not by those assaulted and wronged. This is victim blaming and shaming to deflect attention from the real issues. Those shaming and blaming the victims would like you to believe they can declare Peace without making either apologies or amends. It is the right of the wronged to make Peace without seeking permission. Let us be clear, Peace is not proclaimed from the perpetrators, but emerges from those who have been transgressed against.
People think that because I’m a Peacemaker, I’m a person to smooth things over so that the way is smooth, rather than attending to the hurts and disappointments of those injured or helping them find safety. That’s not what Peacemaking is.
Rather than making everything smooth, sometimes we need to trouble the water. This is what John Lewis would refer to as “Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble.” What is meant in the Spiritual, “God’s Gonna Trouble the Water,” is that God will provide protection for those escaping injustice. This means creating a safe place for everyone. It means confronting our own biases and prejudices so that they do not inflict more hurt on the already hurting. It is a way forward filled with uncertainty, mistakes, forgiveness, and laughter. It is a way forward focused on Joy, Love, Healing. The name of that way is Peace.
I try in my blog posts to be practical and to offer helpful tips for “easing on down the road.”** I admit that this blog post tipped me into rage. Rage is a good warning sign that there is work to be done — but probably not when you’re steaming. Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you the big inhale and exhale. Peace is made with all the information that Rage offers, but none of the steam. As a first step towards Peace, I want people to know that they are neither alone nor unseen. Only then can I invite them, if they’re willing to seek Peace in a place that does not diminish their pain or the realities, into a Peace that works to build a new way. A place where each person, each part of our earth, and all the beings are seen and honored. This is the Peace way, the smooth way. A way that starts where we are and then moves more widely and deeply into health, happiness, justice…
Will you join me in troubling the waters? Let’s make good trouble for ourselves and everyone in this world.
Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Blessed be.
* 1599 Geneva Bible, Jeremiah 6:14: They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people with sweet words, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace.
*The Wiz (1978)