Kevin H: Understanding the Other
In actuality, his work and abilities expand well beyond recording and performing rap music.
He’s also an author, speaker, social activist, and owner of an independent record label. Even though I don’t know his music very well, from what I do know he doesn’t seem to fit the usual mold of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music).
Lecrae recently gave a TED Talk that caught my attention. Heroes and villains. Antagonists and protagonists. Rap culture. Drugs, violence, and misogyny. Ronald Reagan. Embracing stigmas. Perpetuating villainous ideas as heroic. Cancer or cure.
The man seems to have a good head on his shoulders as his talk was insightful and cogent. One of the assertions he made was that defining heroes and villains is not always so simple. He spoke of how everyone has a different story and how those stories can be quite different based on perspectives and vantage points.
An example Lecrae gave in this regards was Ronald Reagan. Hero to many, but villain to the culture and community in which he grew up. He spoke of how Reagan’s War on Drugs and the actions of his administration helped to create an environment in his community where many saw their only hope of escaping dire financial straits was in becoming a drug dealer. Now, he did not slam Reagan, but he clearly articulated a situation where people’s stories and viewpoints can vary based on circumstances. He challenged the audience to be willing to listen to people’s stories before writing them off.
Here at the Phoenix Preacher, we have quite the diversity. One would be hard-pressed to find another site on the internet where there is regular participation on theological and Christian issues from so many different people across the theological spectrum. Despite the inevitable rough patches, I think we usually fare pretty well in holding together as a unique community.
At the same time, (and this not a criticism, but simply expressing a reality), we also have quite a bit of homogeneity.
I’m speaking at least of the participants as I can’t speak to those who are readers only.
We are people who like to discuss and debate issues of similar interest. Despite our diversity, we do seem to share a lot of analogous experiences. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that we are predominantly White American Protestant Christians.
Now I point this out not to lay on a guilt trip or to cry out for greater diversity, but to give us a little food for thought for when we encounter someone different, whether here or in other areas of life.
Sometimes we don’t do so well when someone comes on here and expresses an opinion that we deem not up to code.
Now maybe that opinion is truly foolish or malicious or arrogant and whatever response it gets is well deserved. But maybe other times that opinion is coming from a very different perspective from a person who has had quite dissimilar experiences and life circumstances. Maybe sometimes the foolish and arrogant ones are us because we make assumptions and misunderstand.
The divisions in our culture are seemingly worsening by the day. The current political climate is toxic. The disjunctures in the church are many and at times great, sometimes necessary, other times maybe not.
Seemingly, we are so quick to label and dismiss those on the “other side”. We’re sure we know what they’re like and we have no problem prescribing evil motives and intentions. If they’re not with us then they must be against us… and they must be treated as the enemy.
But… what if we took a little more time to listen to and understand the others?
What if we gained an appreciation for their vantage point, for their thought process? We may very well still disagree with them, but just maybe we’d be able to interact in a more amiable and compassionate fashion. And even yet, maybe one of these times we’d find ourselves saying, “You know, I never thought of it like that, you just might be right.”
But, nah….. we know we’re right and we already know all about the other guy. No sense wasting our time with this “understanding” stuff. We’re right and they’re wrong and we’re sure going to keep it that way.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3