Don’t make another New Year’s resolution. Instead, resolve to build a new world.
“Raise your words, not your voice,” Rumi said. It will be otherworldly words that will take us higher and well above the fray.
There are a lot of words to choose from. I would implore you to use some old letter combinations but also to create some new ones.
I am a wordsmith, committed to both with the hope of unlocking the vision of an undivided “kin-dom.” “Ears to hear and eyes to see,” we also need those who have the courage to say something different, namely when it comes to race and its progeny.
At least, that is the case for me. I have been giving considerable thought to the silence and why we don’t talk about race.
I aimed to name the silence, hoping that it would answer me. I used post-it notes, confessing that the silence is breaking our trust, breaking our hearts.
Then, I wrote down some first names – and at least one middle name – to choose from: conspiratorial silence, privileged silence, avoidant silence, disconnected silence, agreed upon silence, complicit silence, traditional silence, strategic silence, controlling silence, collegial silence, structural silence, understood silence, violent silence.
Consequently, we could use some new tongues. Holy Spirit heating coal on lips like Isaiah, the work calls for the witness of prophets, which are not to be confused with politicians who neither champion the people nor their God despite their recycled campaign promises and speeches.
We need different tongues. We don’t need another charismatic leader with the gift of gab; we need those who are slow to speak but quick to listen with compassion and empathy.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s word of the year for 2022 was gaslighting and that’s saying something. “What does that tell us about the world we’re living in?” asked Claire Cohen, a contributor for Vogue.
Words determine the world we live in. New words create new worlds.
I carry a stack of 3×5 cards with words that double as tools, that sharpen my vision, that hammer out my mission, that drive me to keep going.
I started collecting these “journey words,” as I call them, some years ago. I knew immediately that others would follow, as they were putting into words convictions I had left unsaid or hoped would be spoken and shared by someone, anyone.
“I must see my understandings produce results in human experience. Productivity is my first value. I must make and mold and build life. As an artist, I must shape human relationships. To me, life itself is the greatest material. I would far rather build a (person) than form a book. My whole being is devoted to making my small area of existence a work of art. I am building a world,” Jean Toomer said.
Author of Cane, Toomer and I have a few things in common. But that doesn’t matter as much as the fact that I felt he would have understood me.
“We do not possess imagination enough to sense what we are missing,” he said. Yes! My thoughts exactly, Jean.
It is words that keep calling me and building up the desire to see what these prophets, poets and priests were talking about. I strongly believe that if God didn’t want me to see it, then God would have closed their mouths.
Instead, these words roam freely. These words are still out and about.
So, I write them down and take them home. I write sentences to build upon them.
This year will be no different. Construction continues, with The Raceless Gospel as my blueprint. Make this your resolution and join me in building a new world.
Director of The Raceless Gospel Initiative, associate editor, and host of the Good Faith Media podcast “The Raceless Gospel.”