Don’t let the dust hide the shame
Recently while reading Mathew 10:14 I found myself reflecting on what ‘shaking the dust from off our feet’ means for us today? It got me thinking about the dust that clings to our lives, the dust of past generations, and even the dust of historical statues both legal and physical. Dust that tries to shape us and prevent us being the witnesses to the Gospel of liberation that Jesus has called us to be.
There is so much dust in the corners of our nation and in the collective memories of each of us that requires to be swept away, in order to reveal the truth of injustice and hypocrisy that surrounds the culture and lifestyles of all of us who live in 21st century Scotland. This has to happen first before we can encounter the glory of humanity living in harmony that the Gospel proclaims.
As a church we need to begin to speak more openly about these things within our congregations and listen more intently to the voices of experience in order to bring about a better understanding of the part we as a denomination can play in changing mindsets. In doing so we will discover aspects of our history that must no longer shape us and we will uncover areas of our present thinking and practice that may well have to change.
I was privileged to have Matt Hickman the front man of the Scottish band Brownbear appear on our Sanctuary First weekly podcast back in June. We had a fascinating discussion centred around some of the issues that need to be talked about and brought into the light regarding the whole topic of racism and injustice. If you’re interested in listening to the podcast you can find it here on the Sanctuary First website dated 19 June or you can also check it out on Spotify.
Entering into discussion with Matt and also reading some interesting authors like David Olusoga and Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor, I’ve become aware of an insidious dust that has been covering my thinking, telling me that the issue of racism and prejudice belongs to those who pursue white supremest ideology and not to fair minded white Scots like me. But when shaking the dust of injustice onto the ground, even fair minded Scots are forced to cough because of the dust and the cries of inhumanity; as they discover the truth that lies behind the questions, relating to slavery and the slave trade.
The recent protest events in America that have now reached global significance over the death of George Floyd have become for some just another flash point in race relationships. However on closer scrutiny it is much more that that, it is a wake up call to all of us to face up to the inequalities that are experienced around the world by people because of their race, ethnic culture, or colour.
Yes, it is true that bullying and injustice happens to all shapes and sizes of humanity. However that is no reason why we should not recognise the specific historical context of enslavement and how it has affected how we perceive ourselves, our history and that of others who have a different culture and colour of skin. When we begin this exercise it is not a comfortable experience.
The more I have reflected on this topic I’ve become aware of the privileges I have inherited because I was born into a white family living in the UK. In truth this privilege has at times blinded me to the struggle of those who come from a different ethnic group. I’m glad we still have the opportunity to listen to the voice of the artists throughout the generations from modern day song writers like Matt Hickman to the ancient psalmist inviting us to the place of self examination and discovery. I believe like the psalmist we need the humility and the sincerity to pray:
“Search me O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts,
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting”
It’s amazing the journeys we take when we start reading the Gospels. Dust free feet can uncover the shame of the past and present but transform the journey into the future enabling us to become allies with those who for so long have been ignored.
This article appeared in the July issue of Life and Work. Keep an eye open for the up and coming books that are going to be read in the book club this autumn