I am sorry

I was going to post another in the ‘Christlike’ series today, but instead want to do something else. In one sense, this post won’t include anything original from me, because I want instead to bring to your attention a series of four very moving videos, all posted below.

They are four poems, written and performed by Joel McKerrow (whose website can be found here). In them, he offers four apologies, for four different parts of him: the white part, the rich part, the Christian part, and the masculine part. I have a few reflections, but please watch them too.

I, also, am sorry

I’m white, rich (at least on a global scale), Christian and masculine (male, at least), so these poems are as much about me as they are about Joel. From what I’ve seen of him, I don’t believe he is an active perpetrator (in his words, he didn’t ‘pull the trigger’) of any of these four atrocities: white superiority, rich oppression, Christian oppression or male dominance.

I don’t think I am. At least not in the big ways he talks about, and at least not often. And yet as I watch each of these videos I associate far more with the perpetrator whose confession he voices than I do with the victims to whom he pours out his heart and his apology.

And, like Joel, I wish to say that I am sorry.

The Power of Confession

On one level it isn’t for me to say that. Having not taken part in the crusades, having not lived my life handing out racist slurs, and so on, it isn’t for me to confess to those things. They are not my guilt. They are not my sin.

But for two reasons, I feel an apology is appropriate. The first is that, really, I’m sure that I am guilty. In small ways, I am certain that I share some of those attitudes of white pride, wealthy entitlement, Christian ‘holier-than-thou-ness’, and male brutishness. I’m sure I do. Even in ways I don’t even realise, I am certain that in these areas I must fall, because it is so easy to. And rather than carrying on and saying ‘These videos must be about other people’, it is important to stand up and say ‘I’m sorry’. If only because an important part of confession is repentance – a change of direction – and it will help to strengthen my resolve not to feed into such oppressive mindsets or systems.

The second reason isn’t about me. It’s about non-white people, the poor, non-Christians, and women. Most people (if not all) in these four categories will at some time or another have suffered at the hands of people who share my colour or wealth-bracket or faith or gender. I don’t think I am a large part of the oppressions they will have faced, but I can try to be part of the solution. And they need to know that white, rich, Christian men aren’t all out to get them. Some of us – many of us – are there to stand with them, to love them, to treat them the way they should have been treated all along. For people who have all their lives been subjected only to people like me who would treat them like dirt or like second-class citizens or like a project or like a thing, my apology could mean so much. They need someone to say ‘sorry’, and that person could be me.

So I stand with my brother Joel and say: “I am sorry.”

Here are the videos…

For the WHITE part of me…

For the RICH part of me…

For the CHRISTIAN part of me…

For the MASCULINE part of me…

 


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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16860024527260549220 Mel Criddle

    Thank you Dave and thank you Joel.
    I love these videos and I love you.

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