Sunday, February 17, 2008

More thoughts on Brutality

Yesterday, I shared with Sarah some of the horrors happening in Kenya. She asked me why the US doesn't do something to stop the violence. She has a wonderful sense of justice and desire to help others. We talked about other areas of the world where tribal violence erupts, including Iraq. It really got me thinking about American reactions to the war in Iraq, and how many of us want our soldiers out of there.

Many of my friends talk about tribal violence as something we don't understand that can't be changed. I've always agreed that it can not happen quickly - and I think my ideas are backed up by theories that make sense, such as the Spiral Dynamics, which basically says societies progress in a linear fashion and can not jump from (what I will call) a "lower" mindset to a much "higher" one without the time consuming process of taking every step in between. But, I wonder, must we plod, or can we run up the steps of change?

Later that day, my close friend and mentor, Frost came over. Sarah is doing a report on Maya Angelou, and was asking Frost what he remembered about racial tension during his childhood. He told her stories of lynchings - of how a family would watch a lynching on Saturday, and then head to church Sunday. He also talked about the KKK coming after his sister, who was the first black ballerina on Broadway.

Frost was born in 1941. Today, 2008, we are close friends, and he will not be lynched for talking to me. It is also unlikely I will have a cross burned in my yard because my kids are not white. There are no longer billboards on the road from Spartanburg to Columbia advertising the Klan. They still have a presence here, but public opinion has forced them underground.

Our society has changed, though a river of innocent blood was shed to make it happen.

What do you see as our role in helping other countries overcome tribal violence and experience positive change?