If we want to build a unifying movement,
we have to make sure space for the other is first created.
Sherri Mitchell, Esq.
Penobscot sacred activist “Indigenous Wisdom”

The Blessing of Diversity

A reflection by Teresa Foley and Denise Granger

The beginning of a journey toward addressing racism must begin in prayer and reflection and an effort to act with the intention of what Pat Bergen, ssj calls the charism of “unioning love”.  Theologian and Episcopalian priest Cynthia Bourgeault  calls this  “finding identity in collectivity…unfathomable unity, activating reconciling work.”  Indeed,  Fr. Richard Rohr describes God as “relationship itself, a dynamism of Infinite love.

“Divine Diversity” ……what we might call the “Great Love of God.” This work together has the goal that our Buddhist neighbors would describe as letting go of the illusion of separateness. Or as Chief Seattle said so many years ago, “humankind has not woven the web of life. We are one strand within it…. all things are bound together. All things are connected.”

Communities we live in are most whole when our diversity is celebrated and blessed…we encourage each of us to lean into this spiritual journey and find the blessing. The love of God creates in us such a “oneing” that when it is truly seen  no person can separate themselves from another person…and in the sight of God all humans are one…..” Julian of Norwich.

So, let us begin our journey in unioning love…

A Common Language
The meaning of words and the messages they convey are laden with the influences and impact of culture, conditioning, our place in time, and so many other factors. What we hear can be quite different from what was intended. We need to create, as best we can, a common language from which our exploration and discussion of issues of diversity, bias, prejudice, and racism can evolve. We offer here some definitions that can be used as a foundation for our journey.

Diversity

Difference, variety, multiformity,
the nature of the universe, including
things, people, and communities.

Bias

A preference, a strong indication of mind, opinion about something or someone…often without good information.

Prejudice

A pre-formed judgement, often without reason or with faulty or insufficient reasoning. Often based on stereotypes and often negative about groups of people but not always…they deny the individuality of persons.

Racism

The individual, cultural, and institutional beliefs and discrimination that systematically
oppresses people of color.