Friday, May 2, 2008

Wright Message, Wrong Words?

I just got the chance to watch the Bill Moyers Journal program featuring Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and I have to say it was very interesting. Wright certainly did not come off looking or sounding like the fanatic he has been made out to be by the mainstream press and one Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Speaking as a middle-aged white man, I have to say that Wright made some very valid points regarding the treatment of minorities in this country, both in the Moyers interview and in the extended sermon clips that were aired on that program. His unfortunate choice of words does not diminish the validity of his message.

He is also correct when he notes that the victors are the ones who write the histories. As a result, we are able to emphasize the Nazi atrocities committed against the Jewish during World War II because the Nazis lost the war while downplaying our own actions in this country against Native Americans in the 19th Century because we won.

I have always thought that we needed to look at ourselves and our actions before we condemn others. I do not say we should not speak out against oppression, but we should not do so from a position of moral superiority as a self-appointed arbiter of right and wrong. Instead, we should speak from a position of humility, pointing out these things while also recognizing our own shortcomings in such areas. The idea is one of helping others to learn from our mistakes and missteps.

Leading from a position of power ultimately brings resentment, even hatred. Leading from a position of humility should ultimately bring understanding and respect. I know which I would prefer if it were my country being led.

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