It is time for this old white guy to take a further step aside to make more room for more of the world.
Many old white men like me have too long tried our best to manage the world and, honestly, from my point of view our results are pretty terrible. It turns out life is simply not a sports event where one team can win, game over.
I’m ready to move over and make room for my daughter and my grandkids and the kids of my sisters-in-law and my nieces and, especially if they are willing to take a long, hard look at themselves, my nephews and the other boys and men in my life. I’m also more ready than ever to tap into the wisdom of really old people—of any color—because as they/we edge up closer to death they often enable us to see true wisdom, a quality that is essential to having a world that works for all of us. All of us and especially the majority of the world’s population—women, girls, children and non-whites—who have so long been not part of the conversations.
My father-in-law, another old white guy, continues to inspire me, as can be seen here walking with his daughter and her wife and one of their eight children down the aisle to finally be legally married, after 28 years of being together. Can I make room for these kinds of changes? Can I stay committed to what is important to me?
I spent thirty minutes this morning looking back at a Life magazine from 1966. I was then a senior in high school. Girls, cars school, religion, the war and politics were important to me, mostly in that order. Girls still “got pregnant;” gas was $.25/gallon; cars were mainly an extension of my racing emotions; the game of school was to get good grades (3.94 average) rather than learn about life; I was deeply questioning how we as Christians could justify dropping napalm and allow black churches to be burned, why we needed to live under the dark clouds of mutually assured nuclear destruction; and the political world, which only a few years prior had still seemed simple enough that we “should” be able to make a difference, had suddenly become scrambled by the murders of the Kennedy brothers, Dr. King, and Malcolm X.
History is a great mirror in which to view the present, to see how many ways we have changed and how many (more?) ways we have not.
On Wednesday of this week I’ll still need to talk to neighbors, shop keepers, family—people who have different points of view and opinions. What can I learn from them? What do we share in common? As an old, white man I realize more than ever how often I’ve seen and tried to shape the world using mainly what I saw through my eyes. And as enlightened as I thought I was and as educated as I am, I know my sight has been blurred and colored and simply blinded for much of my life. It is time to move over and share in a greater vision of the world.
“Still Learning to See” continues to take on new meaning for me today.