Beacons to Each Other in Eliminating Racism

Dear Tim,

We had a breakthrough in our work on eliminating racism at a recent day-long Area workshop.

Our Area is in a part of our city where a great number of people of color live, but there are relatively few people of color in our RC Area. I described your thinking about why RC's current priority is eliminating racism. It is not because racism is more important than other oppressions, but because it tends to confuse and divide us and make us feel that we cannot overcome it. I insisted that we can overcome it and that we can do so as a Community. We are not alone in our attempts.

I told the workshop an Ethiopian story: A wealthy landowner offered his servant some of his lands if the servant would stay awake all night while standing on top of the highest mountain in the area, where it would be bitterly cold, without clothing, blankets, food, or water. If he could accomplish this possibly life-threatening task, the landowner would give him land, a house, and cattle. This would mean a great deal to the servant's family and his descendants. The servant agreed to the wager, in hopes that he could one day till his own soil, but he was worried, for the wind swept bitterly across the mountain peak.

In the morning the servant went to the wise man of his people to seek advice. The wise man listened carefully, then offered to help him. He said he would keep a fire burning on a prominent point of land that was visible from the distant mountaintop where the servant would be standing. He said to the servant, "All night long you must watch the light of my fire. Do not close your eyes. As you watch my fire, think of its warmth and think of me, your friend, sitting there tending it for you."

Though the howling wind that night seemed to chill the very marrow in the servant's bones, he watched the twinkling fire that shone like a star across the valley the whole night through. By so doing he accomplished the seemingly impossible and won the bet.

I told the workshop that I want us each to be that fire for each other as we move forward to eliminate racism. When we get lost or discouraged in our efforts to eliminate racism, I want us to be able to look out and see that fire in each other, that fire that reminds us of our common goal. We will need to carry that fire to persist in eliminating racism, through whatever difficulties or feelings we will face. Our common commitment must burn in us like a fire.

Many of us wept openly at this, moved by the possibility of actually counting on each other.

We then went directly to discharge groups for people of color, Jews, and Gentiles. When we reconvened as a large group, it was clear we had broken through a level of isolation. I am looking forward to many such breakthroughs in our work together to eliminate racism.

Thank you, Tim, for making eliminating racism in the International RC Communities an explicit priority. Your doing so builds a "fire on the mountain" for all of us.

Gail Mandella
West Berkeley, California, USA


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07