This post is written by Andrew Marin, President and Founder of The Marin Foundation
I woke up this morning in beautiful Scotland to an email with a link where someone wrote the following:
I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” -Martin Luther King, Jr
I’m looking at you, Andrew Marin
To no one’s surprise, the person who wrote that heartfelt statement about me is quite an outspoken partisan activist. In essence, the impetus for their thought process is that I have not advocated for the policies in which they deem the only acceptable policy in the only acceptable means to obtain it. I’m not going to give this one more ounce of energy that it deserves, but I do feel it needs to be briefly addressed because I’m tired of the every-so-often misrepresented critique of the work of a bridge builder.
Because one does not take a hardline stance advocating for partisan policy, that either end of the worldview spectrum so desperately yearns for the bridge builder to take their side, does not make the bridge builder neutral. Or more importantly, it does not make the bridge builder silent.
In his book Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf explores the key structural elements of how to measure and quantify “successful reconciliation.” This is the beginning of that exploration (italics his):
“For Jeremiah (9:4-6) and Paul (2 Cor 4:2) the point of speaking the truth, as proposed to deceiving, is not to win the contest in whose “mind” can better correspond to the actual “facts,” but to name adequately what transpires between people. Recent epistemological discussion suggests that no more than that seems possible because all experience relies on prior interpretation and all interpretations are offered in particular languages and guided by particular interests.
Merely telling the truth will not suffice, however. One must do truth…
In the terminology of Michel Foucault, because knowledge of truth is never “pure”—at least it is not pure when it comes to the kinds of knowing that are more significant than knowing the phone number of your grandfather—but always already immersed in the multiple relations of power that shape the self.”
And let me make this very clear: When The Marin Foundation “does truth,” our truth is quadruply-layered in response to the author of the email’s link in how they define “times of moral crisis”:
The Marin Foundation’s four-fold work of doing truth:
*Facilitating peaceful dialogue with both sides of the culture war present, in person, at the same time, such that one has to face their enemy, producing a shared sense of humanity;
*Helping both sides of the culture war understand their differences with their other, such that it produces a shared, more humanlike quality, to those considered one’s enemy;
*Living into an overarching worldview of loving those that one perceives as their enemies; and finally,
*Strongly advocating for the legitimacy of one’s dignity, and the humanity for their life’s story, because it is valid, legitimate, and it has led them to their current point. Indeed, one’s life story will always be as such–just as real and raw as each of their brothers and sisters’ understanding of theirs.
That is how we “do truth.”
Dictating cultural normalcy must never be about worldview dominance, but about oppressor and the oppressed working together to create a holistic system, an actual holistic system, that is based on the sustainability of bipartisan ethics, rather than the train wreck mess of engagement (if one can actually call “it” engagement?) that we have today.