Respectful Dialogue: Kim and Al...

I'm just really enjoying the exchange taking place between Kim and my friend Al, regarding the abuses and atrocities committed against First Nations peoples in North America. It's important to emphasize that the impact of those abuses unquestionably continues to directly wound, oppress, marginalize and even to culturally (and economically) enslave our brothers and sisters of Native decent.

Click here and scroll to the bottom of the comments section to really see a beautiful kind of dialogue between stranges of very different backgrounds. It's a level of conversation I strive for (and often fail to attain).

Kim offered some links for further interest:

Also a book by Richard Twiss, an incredibly important voice in Native conversations...

Al, Kim, thank you both for your example.


Al said...

Thanks, Peter.
On a good day, I try to let my heart lead me. When I read Kim's first post, I immediately knew I needed to let her know someone is listening.
I hope I mean all the words I said. I know they are the right words, but more than that, they needed to be true words. I truly hope that they are not just words, but come straight from God's heart through mine.
I have been known to put my foot firmly in my mouth, and not even remove it before putting the other one in. So, I tend to work at making sure I'm not accidentally saying something in an insulting or ungracious way. In a way, it's being politically correct, but for the right reasons.
In the case of two people trying to bridge a gap of generations of mistrust and abuse, I really don't want to unintentionally add to that by an ill-chosen word or phrase. It could be so easy (on my part) to play into an old stereotype and use an image that connotes colonialism. For example, I used the phrase 'your people' in reference to Kim's First Nations heritage. I had to think about that for awhile, making sure that I didn't in any way infer a kind of superiority of 'my birth culture', over Kim's.
Most of the other things I said I credit to God's wisdom and grace touching my heart, as I know His grace and wisdom are also touching Kim's.
Although I certainly didn't intend this conversation to simply be an example of how to be sensitive in talking with someone, I'm glad it can help to encourage us (myself included) to really hear what a person is saying, what is coming from their heart, and how to bless them for that.
By the way, in Canada we tend to use the phrase 'First Nations' to refer to those who were already here when the Europeans arrived. It is a phrase they have chosen to describe themselves, and one they want to be known by. The desire is to remove any stigma that might have been attached to 'Native' 'Tribe' or 'Indian' in the past. I realize that this usage is not the case in the US, but for me, using words like 'native' or 'tribe' might infer things it shouldn't.

Peter said...

Thanks Al. Bryan McLaren tends to use the "First Nations" identifier too. I like it. Some of the Native/First Nations folks who have affiliated with George Fox recently seem to use both with preference (only in my observance) to "Native..."

Either way, I'm just humbled and thankful to witness and be a part of dialogue. Thanks again for your heart, friend!

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