Category Archives: racism

The Danger of “My Truth: Our Current Crisis of Genuine Knowledge

There are two words we need to stop using so glibly: “My truth.” While we are free to express our opinions and need to allow others the same, these two words reveal a serious crisis of knowledge in our reactive, subjective social media world. History, philosophy, and science used to be fields of proximate objective inquiry, testing hypothesis, expanding knowledge, and evaluating arguments. And in many places, these and other disciplines admirably contribute to our knowledge.

Sadly, the shriller voices are self-absorbed subjectivists, arguing that being “good” or “moral” is more important than “facts.” What matters are the “narratives” we create or affirm, not the complexities of the data. This is not a Left or Right issue. This subjective and often irrational perspective subverts the public good and the ability of diverse folks to discover the truth of any matter and bring wisdom to real challenges.

We can transform neighborhoods, but not by the D.C. Leviathan parachuting personnel and resources with no understanding of the locale.

We can improve our schools, if we will listen to the facts of 30 years of research and liberate students and teachers from ineffective systems.

We can improve health care, foster new energy sources, open avenues of economic access…if we will learn from the mistakes and successes of the last half century instead of repeating tired mantras.

A young student who claimed to be an, “anarcho-syndicalist” and devotee of Marx, when confronted with the record of history, could find no evidence of his ideas ever working in a sustained and humane way. His refusal to modify his thinking was evident when he declared that the facts are unimportant, and devotion to the ideal is all that matters. The same mindset pervades awful fascist and racist groups on the extreme Right. White supremacy has no place in a pluralistic republic.

Renewing “the pursuit of truth in the company of friends” (my Cowell College UCSC motto – go Slugs!) will require humility, openness, love for neighbor, and constant refinement of thinking. Our dear friend, the late Miriam Self, once said about this, “Sounds too much like work,” Her humor helps us see the point well. As we decide to pursue the truth of any matter, we will still often diverge on both the data and the policies, but if we stay inquisitive, we may find hidden gems of wisdom and principled ways of fostering human flourishing hitherto buried under the noise.

In closing, I want to thank my late dad for making learning an adventure, my many older spiritual mentors modeling humility and inquiry in their eighth and ninth decades, and all of you that love thoughtfulness…thank you!

And above, underneath, and all around is our loving Lord, the Logos, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Differences that Make a Difference

Learning thoughtfulness amidst the overwhelming data around us is challenging. In our desires for peace and justice, we must refine our critical thinking capacities and recognize what is timeless truth and what are timely opinions.

Here are some differences that make a difference:

Legitimate outrage about racism vs. anarchy and destruction.

Repairing historic, systemic injustices vs. calls for ending the family and imposing Marxism.

Repentance of prejudices of class, gender, and race vs. hatred for anyone with traditional values.

Passionate, principled debate vs. a cancel culture of personal destruction.

Building a world with true toleration vs. fear of violence.

Serious journalistic inquiry and allowing real evidence to further investigation vs. repetition of talking points and allegations.

Repairing our environment vs. alarmism cloaking wealth redistribution.

Accepting history as a tapestry of beautiful and broken narratives vs. cherry picking for agendas.

Treating every person with dignity and respect and respecting cultural diversity vs. blanket categorizations and generalizations.

Freedom of conscience allowing us to bring our best selves to the public square vs. privatizing any moral and religious convictions.

Let’s help the world be more thoughtful.

Good Intentions Subverted by Other Agendas

Dear conservative and progressive friends (and those of goodwill who dislike labels):

Throughout history movements for needed change are subverted by agendas contrary to the values of the initial advocates. Criminal justice and police reform, economic and educational change, ridding our souls and systems of racism – all of these and much more are worthy aims.

The well-orchestrated violence on the streets and the agendas of extremists are obscuring the legitimate (and painful) reform movements. When we stop reacting and start reflecting, there are creative ways forward that unite instead of divide.

Ethics are universal, but action begins locally. Better schools, new business opportunities, the end of banking and food deserts, and community-police cooperation…all of these require courage, wisdom, and love for neighbor, not burning buildings and refusing to listen to reason.

All of this begins with women and men who are thoughtful and refuse entrapment by ideological purity tests, Left or Right. Conservative friends unsparingly renounce racism and extreme nationalism and join with local leaders and foster conditions for flourishing. Liberal friends, renounce Antifa and other forms of violent overthrowing of government and honestly work with others for a more just world in the neighborhood.

Too many folks are paralyzed by fear of being seen as unpatriotic or unwoke. When this fear is replaced by faith in the Almighty, the courage to work toward justice, and the humility to discover pathways with others different from us, hope awakens, and communities thrive.

Wisdom in Chaotic Times

As we converse, we need to include complexity and nuance as we aim for understanding. I am not qualifying any forms of evil or injustice but aiming for wisdom. There are two (among many others) critical thinking errors that often emerge as we aim for civil debate in the public square: The first is over-generalization, especially about groups of people. The second false combination, where we assume because a person thinks a certain way about one issue they will align on several others in a particular manner.


People vary greatly and do not always fit in tidy political categories. For example, as someone deeply concerned about protecting the vulnerable from conception to coronation, I want to see better gun control laws, more access to medical care and mental health services, and reform in our educational and economic policies so access, equity, and opportunity improve.


Racism in any form is a moral evil, calling for personal repentance and systemic change. Such transformations require humility and listening by those historically in power. And solutions that actually work will not fit neatly into ideological boxes. With the help of many friends and mentors, I am listening to many voices, most of which are unheard in a world of clickbait and “gotcha.” Business leaders and laborers, parents and clergy, academics and authors, social service workers and local public servants are all helping me grow in wisdom. 

As we respond to this moment, one message I am hearing can help. These are not my wisdom or words, but sisters and brothers on the frontlines. Their message to all well-meaning folks: Take time and find out what the people in the communities and neighborhoods desire and need and invite local residents to forge the solutions. Listening to parents and local business owners about education, work, housing, and other issues will yield wisdom. 

What America Are We Celebrating?

July 4th reminds us of the best and worst of American history. Many celebrate Independence Day and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. And there is much to be proud of as we remember the sacrifices of so many that keep freedom’s flag flying. Others consider the failure of the Founders and Framers to offer a clear road of Emancipation for the slaves, thus delaying justice for millions, costing our nation a horrible Civil War, the tragedy of Jim Crow, and the unfulfilled promises of the Civil Rights Movement. Add to this the almost 100% record of broken covenants and treaties between the USA and the indigenous Native American tribes and being suspicious of American ideals is understandable.

The USA is an experiment in virtue-based liberty and representative governance rooted in reverence of the Almighty, the equality of all people, and limitations on the power of government. But our history is a tapestry of tremendous and tortured narratives. We celebrate the Ellis Island Hospitality enshrined in the Statue of Liberty and forget the prejudice, racism, and exploitation of both slaves and immigrants. We rightly celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of our culture and forget the painful road toward prosperity for most workers.

What makes America truly great? First, we see that our first liberty, enshrined in the first 16 words of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is complete freedom of conscience and religion for people of all faiths (or no faith) to live their lives and build their communities without government interference. Second, the promise of and potential for genuine access, equity, and opportunity for everyone. And third, our history of halting but continual progress toward justice.

Let’s celebrate heroes of the past and hopes for the future. Let’s feast in freedom and build a future so more can enjoy the fruits of freedom.