I’ve realized that there are still strong feelings about race in Baltimore. Many conversations are focused on the topic of race but not aimed toward the goal of reconciliation. Recently I heard the term “zero-sum” and I did some research on its meaning. What I learned helped me understand how our assumptions about reconciliation impact our conversations about race. My hope is that the overall sum of our conversations of race will lead us to reconciliation. Here are three different approaches:
There are conversations filled with anger. The assumption is that there is very little space for common ground. These conversations tend to become arguments and neither person involved gains anything. The only true gain is determined by who loses the less ground for their argument. Overall there is a regress from reconciliation so this results in a negative-sum conversation.
There are also conversations filled with exchanges of pain. There is an assumption that in order for one person to gain something, then someone else must lose something. So in order for me to feel validated someone must feel remorse. There is an exchange of pain but there is no progress toward reconciliation. Overall steps toward reconciliation are stalled in blame. So it becomes a zero-sum conversation.
Finally, there are conversations filled with grace. There is an assumption that somehow there is enough healing to fully cover the deep layers of pain. So each person fights for healing with courageous vulnerability. For each pain exchanged there is forgiveness offered. And every strand of forgiveness strengthens the bond of reconciliation. So it becomes a positive-sum conversation.
Which conversations will you lead?
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.