Posted by: abbiewatters | October 30, 2016

Courageous Conversations: Learning to listen and speak across difference

Chapter 30 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

Make a deal with someone you trust in order to practice giving and getting honest feedback. Set your own guidelines, such as: If I ask your opinion, you will give me an honest answer, even if you know it might hurt, or, Feel free to gently point out to me [name one of your flaws] when I do it, so that I can increase my awareness of when and where I do it. Keep in mind the words of pastor Warren Wiersbe, “Truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

I’m going to try to do this.

But today, I’m going to take a point of personal privilege, and try to tell you all, my gentle readers, how distressed I am about the situation on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The whole thing is anathema to me, from the heavily armed, mercenary troops, to the blatant disregard being shown for Native American rights and treaties.

The fact that the route of the pipeline was “kept private” until it was too late to object in the courts, to the reports of unprovoked violence on October 27th by police and “private” police against unarmed protestors.


Peaceful protestors marching against heavily armed police.


Three things ultimately stand out for me in all the rhetoric about the pipeline

  1. The route of the pipeline originally was placed through/near Bismarck, ND. The government of Bismarck objected for fear that leaks could potentially damage the water supply for the town.
  2. The new route was placed through Native American Sacred Sites and Burial grounds. When the tribe objected (including filing suit in Federal Court), the judge issued a temporary restraining order, followed by a dismissal of the tribe’s case. The tribe immediately filed an appeal, but the judge refused to extend the restraining order. As soon as the judge dismissed the case the pipeline company sent in bulldozers and trenchers before any additional studies could be made to determine whether there were burial grounds there or not.
  3. The pipeline is scheduled to go under the Missouri River, setting up untold millions of people for potential damage to their drinking and municipal water.

What can possible go wrong with an oil pipeline? Oh, right…


What do you think would happen if a big corporation decided that it was in everyone’s interest to build a 10-lane super highway from Newport News, Virginia to Annapolis, Maryland, because that is a super congested area and national security demands ease of access. And then, as construction began, it became clear that the route of the highway was through the middle of Washington, DC (we’ll have to take down the White House and the Lincoln Memorial)


across the Potomac, through Arlington National Cemetery (we’ll be sure to relocate the graves if we run across any bones),


southeast through the Chesapeake National Wildlife Refuge (we’ll try not to harm any of the fish or wildlife), and the over to the coast.

Please join me, and people around the world in praying for the Water Protectors, and for the people in uniform during the vigil for Standing Rock.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.


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