Prologue – A beginning framework for what’s to come…
My dear friend and reader,
Living alone this year, during a world-wide pandemic has given me a lot of time to study, research, read, and reflect on important and timely issues that plague our nation, our society, our communities, and our lives in deep profound ways.
Studies show that in the past few years, there’s been a steady rise in activity of white supremacy in our country. Simultaneously, there is a rise in narcissism and narcissistic tendencies. While it’s almost impossible to quantify the numbers of white nationalists in our country, the best guess is around 50 million. And studies also indicate that narcissism afflicts about 1 in 200 people.
I’m no expert on these issues – I’ve just had a lot of time on my hands to think about these things. In this way, the pandemic has been a gift. At times I’ve felt that I’ve been given a sabbatical.
This past year, I’ve been able to reclaim aspects of myself that I put aside – I am a trained philosopher, researcher, and theologian. I’ve also had time to sit and reflect on my own life history, the past and the near past. I’ve reclaimed my calling as a writer. As a writer I have a voice. At this point, there’s no particular topics that are off the table. And I have nothing to lose, so I can be unashamedly honest in a way I haven’t been my whole life.
I have been and continue to be a very existential and experiential person who’s life has never been a straight-forward path. In my college days, I was very impractical and didn’t chose a career path. I chose to study philosophy, because I wanted to learn how to think.
I studied ethics, being fascinated with the various ethical theories out there and how we live and make decisions. I was astonished that there were so many ways to look at the world – so many lenses to consider. Somewhere in studying ethics and philosophy a desire to study religion and theology grew.
For my graduate work, I studied at Chicago Theological Seminary, where my focus of study was the Spirit. I wanted to know what my soul was made out of, how my soul connected to other souls and to the great Spirit that is God.
I write these things to give you a personal context for the work these writings and the work I’m called to do. If you follow this blog, you will learn more about my journey and over time you’ll understand my motivation for sharing what I’m sharing. In my explorations the intersections between white supremacy and narcissism, I’m going to tell a story. It’ll be a doozy – so stay tuned, keep reading. For the first time in my life, I won’t be holding anything back. In time, you will understand why I’m telling you this story. It will all make sense.
But in order to tell that story, there’s some contextualization that needs to happen. It takes place within the context of two very real, dangerous soul-sicknesses that plague our society, our country, our communities, our families, and our lives. My story will be told in the context of these two soul-sicknesses. I am no expert. I’m not a social scientist, a doctor, or a psychoanalyst. I’m not a preacher. I’m a story teller.
With that, I’m going to jump right in. I’m quickly going to lift up some ways that I believe these soul-sickness intersect.
- Both soul-sicknesses – white supremacy and narcissism – are rooted in “power over” dynamics.
- White supremacy and narcissism are fueled by entitlement, anger, and a need for control.
- Both have targets. Both have victims.
- Both have enablers and stakeholders that benefit from these soul-sicknesses.
- Both are extremely toxic and dangerous to society, community, family systems, churches and other institutions.
- Both are very damaging, very dangerous, and are on the rise.
“I think we’re in the middle of “white male power making a last stand” and last stands are bloody, long and violent. I can’t calibrate exactly where we are in that….the world is going to change….people who feel like power is finite are going to go down fighting. I don’t believe power is finite…. I believe it’s limitless…the more you share it…the more grows. It not just “white male power” it’s “white male power over”…we’re still reckoning with the remnants of colonialism. I think we see it every day.”~ Brené Brown speak these words in a podcast with Russell Brand
I’ve read the above quote so many times that I almost have it memorized. In my writing around these soul-sicknesses is that I agree with Brené Brown. I do think we are in the midst of paradigm shifting, but the structures of white supremacy are so deep and ingrained, that we are in the midst of a fight.
It’s a fight for the soul of our nation. It’s a fight for the soul of our communities – our businesses, our churches, our families. It’s a fight for fair and equitable livelihoods.
For many, it’s a fight for their very lives.
But – it doesn’t have to be that way. There is enough abundance to go around for everyone. There is enough goodwill, creativity, respect, love, and power for everyone. Holding us back from these things is the toxicity of these soul-sicknesses. I’m framing my conversation in terms of illness, but let me be clear, I believe that these illnesses are dangerous and these illnesses are holding us “hostage.”
It’s my hope, through my writing, to speak to both the “hostages” as well as the “hostage takers.”
I will write both of my own complicity in the soul-sickness of white supremacy and why it took so long for me to join the fight. I will conduct interviews. I will write about being targeted. I will write about being an enabler. I will tell stories. I will ask for stories and listen to stories. Together, we’ll examine the dark side of these soul-sicknesses. Together, it is my hope, that we will find new ways of collaboration and creativity in order to break free of these soul-sicknesses.
Thanks for reading, my friends.
Coming up soon: a story that’s never been told – a story of a spiritual seeker, a spiritual teacher, a community, a family, and a tragedy.
“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.“
Power: the drive of everything living to realize itself with increasing intensity and extensity.” ~Paul Tillich
“Love: the drive towards the unity of the separated.” ~ Paul Tillich