Our church’s antiracism discussion group is on a summer hiatus, four years after we started. There are a handful of reasons for this, including members’ summer travels and Henry’s slow and sometimes bumpy healing journey. It’s also important to take periodic time for rest and refreshment so we can return to living out our commitments with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

However, this summer break doesn’t mean our antiracism work stops. In fact, I’m considering this a time to look back and remind myself of the important things I’ve learned. It’s a chance to make sure I’m not losing touch with valuable lessons and to practice learning from others’ perspectives.  

One phrase that has been rising for me was contributed by a member of our group at a recent meeting. In response to learning yet another way in which we white people have been acting from a position of privilege, she remarked that we needed to use a humility shaker with every meal.

I love that image. Like a saltshaker or pepper grinder, a humility shaker can season any type of spiritual food, intensifying the flavor and making it more palatable. When we use a humility shaker, we are also positioning ourselves alongside or across from others, like around a dining room table. This is in stark contrast to the superiority complex that so many of us unconsciously inherited from our families and cultures.

Last week, I noted that I’d like to see arrogance and self-righteousness burned on the pyre that immolates tattered and battered flags and other relics of US life. Just as a flag can be torn apart by the wind, nationalistic attitudes can tear us apart. We US citizens have assumed for decades that our country is the best. We have exported our self-righteous assumptions about self-governance along with our fast-food chains and workaholic tendencies, ignoring the fact that we did not grant true equality to our black- and brown-skinned fellow citizens.

Such unconsciously inherited attitudes need a healthy dash of humility to be right sized in our global context. While we push the idea of democracy as the best option for everyone around the world, we need to recognize how we have also exported our arrogant racist attitudes.

In what areas of your life do you need to use a humility shaker? What could benefit from a fresh dash of perspective?

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