Meditation on a ruptured Achilles: thoughts of the temporarily disabled.

On February 19th I ruptured my Achilles tendon playing basketball. Six days later I had surgery to “sew” it back together. About six days from now, I might be out of my walking boot and back into shoes. Having a ruptured Achilles has slowed me down. I’ve gone from a walking boot, to hard splint, back to a walking boot. It has given me an opportunity to briefly walk in the shoes, or shoe, of the disabled.

People are inconsiderate. Inconsiderate is the best word I can think of. People are not rude to me, they are just inconsiderate. People think of themselves and their situation and not the other person.

Don’t get me wrong, some people are more than inconsiderate. Like my boss who asked me the very day I had my hard splint off and went back into a walking boot if I could go back to regular work-duty now.

Most people are just inconsiderate. Most people mean no malice. They do not seem to think poorly of me, or look down on me, or try to trip me, they just do not think of me as needing anything out of the ordinary. People are not rude, at least not intentionally; they just do not care about those in need.

Maybe it is just me. Maybe I should have missed more work. Maybe I shouldn’t be so introverted and stoic. Maybe people do care for those who are truly disabled. Maybe abled people do look out for those missing limbs and not for those whose ailment is obviously temporary. I don’t know.

But I hope this temporary injury makes me more considerate. I hope I become more compassionate. Especially toward those who are suffering.

 

The waters of judgement and restoration

I change up my Bible reading every year- do something different to try to break up the monotony. Every 3 or 4 years I will read 10 chapters a day- which takes me through the OT twice in a year and the New Testament almost 4 times. It is good because you are always reading something different, even when you are reading chapters you have already read that year. It is bad because it is 10 chapters spread out over all the Bible…and the mind can wander.

To combat the wandering I look for particular themes. I am always looking for Trinitarian passages; Day of the Lord passages; and in Proverbs I am looking for verses that talk about wine. I am also looking for connections between passages that I would not otherwise see. Today was a fruitful day for such a connection: water. Following are the passages I read today that spoke about water. It is quite the story of sin, judgment, repentance, and restoration.

Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12-13)

The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Proverbs 9:13-18)

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  (Luke 16:22-25)

 “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)

God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

Your procession is seen, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary— the singers in front, the musicians last, between them virgins playing tambourines: “Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!” (Psalm 68:6-10, 24-26)

White Fragility: chapters 7-12

Chapters 7-12 went by rather quickly and are summarized here. Chapter 7 further repeats elements of white fragility: responses of anger, withdraw, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation, and cognitive dissonance. White people tend to resort to one of these coping mechanisms whenever they are challenged in racial discussion. Chapter 8 further repeats elements of white fragility by focusing on “trauma.” White people react so strongly to racially difficult situations, that “trauma” becomes a frequent description of their response. White people are emotionally and physically moved by such confrontations. Chapter 9 is a further restatement of the feelings, behaviors, claims, assumptions, and functions of white fragility. Chapter 10 offers helpful critiques in framing and guiding discussions about race with white people. I agree with pretty much everything she says. Chapter 11 further repeats elements of white fragility through the lens of white women’s tears. White women often resort to emotional outbursts to deflect and control racially difficult situations.

The final chapter, “Where do we go from here?” lays out a course for racial sensitivity. After(once again) laying out the defensive characteristics of white fragility, several guidelines are offered. Apologies must be genuine and not conditional: no, “I’m sorry if…” Secondly, white people should reflect seriously on the messages they have received, privileges they enjoy, how they have been socialized to feel superior, and how these things are showing up in their daily lives. Next is a too-brief discussion of white guilt. I appreciate the statement, “When I start from the premise that of course I have been thoroughly socialized into the racist culture in which I was born, I no longer need to expend energy denying that fact. I am eager—even excited—to identify my inevitable collusion so that I can figure out how to stop colluding!” We are then told that there is no such thing as a good white person. To be white is to be racist. The only hope for a white person is to be less white.

White Fragility addresses an important topic. Unfortunately, it falls short in offering meaningful solutions. White people are inherently racist. White people revolt in disgust and denial whenever this racism is challenged. After establishing the facts of the case (and I do believe they are facts) DiAngelo spends multiple chapters restating the facts through lenses of various illustrations. In the concluding chapter, DiAngelo tells white people not to feel bad about being inherently racist; that white people cannot not be racist; and that white people should continue to try harder to not be racist. It is a rather hopeless conclusion to a vexing issue. As a book, White Fragility suffers from repetitiveness. The main text is scarcely 150 pages, but just as well could have been 75. As a way forward, White Fragility suffers from hopelessness. If to be white in a white society is to be racist, how on earth am I to suddenly find the answer to my whiteness by just trying hard to not be white?