“Calling In”


Much name calling fills our newspapers, newscasts, internet writing and tweets. People are insistent on “calling each other out” for every view or statement they make. I was challenged this week reading an interview in The Sun magazine July, 2019 with a food activist Leah Penniman. (The article “To Free Ourselves We Must Feed Ourselves, Leah Penniman on bringing people of color back to the land is worth reading for those interested in the intersection of social justice and farming.) She stresses the importance of calling people in rather than calling them out.

I quote her since what she said struck me as deeply important: “Yes, people are not disposable. Rather than dismissing, shunning, or shaming those who make mistakes, I believe it’s our responsibility to call them into awareness and support them in their learning journey, so long as they have a desire for healing. We can’t excommunicate one another. We’re all here on this planet. Let’s try to figure it out together.”

What connections might come if we stopped fearing that every opinion out of our mouth might be labeled as one thing or another. What if we stopped shaming each other about our ignorance about religion, gender, race and ethnicity. I remember years ago in rural Oregon a white man saying to an African American friend of mine, with genuine delight, “You are the first ni—-er I have ever met.” My friend had a choice to recoil or to engage. His first response might have been “how can you use that word? ” Instead I remember him extending his hand and shaking the man’s hand. Then some conversation could begin.

13 thoughts on ““Calling In”

  1. It took great strength of character for your friend to shake that man’s hand. Maybe that is what was really meant by the phrase ‘turning the other cheek’.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  2. Having people of color close in my family, that would be a challenging step to take in today’s undercurrent of racism. I understand the sentiment, however difficult that step would be. I grew up in small town south and when I moved north, I was constantly ridiculed for my accent. It changes us when society sets us apart from others. And that little thing I experienced does not compare in the least to what my own family has experienced.

    Conversation and dialogue about not only our differences but also our similarities could heal us if given the chance. Trust must be there at some level, I would think. How do we rebuild that trust?


      1. Of course that is correct, Elizabeth. It is hard to build trust when distrust has been so prevalent. I have hope, though. We each do our part to bridge the gap hopefully.


  3. I like the Leah Penniman quote you’ve shared.
    With regard to the occasion in rural Oregon so many years ago, your friend’s ability to shake hands with the guy prior to engaging in conversation displays great tolerance. I imagine I’d have to tell the guy he wasn’t meeting a “n–” before we could talk.


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