Twenty-five thousand Texans have signed a petition to peacefully secede from the United States of America. I understand. I’ve spent much of my life trying inwardly to secede from places and groups (including Texas) that I didn’t agree with.
In the middle of writing Big Topics at Midnight I realized how much energy I’d spent trying to distance myself from parts of me or my world that embarrassed me—my wealth, white skin, cultural Christianity, patriarchy and even Texas. I wrote about this struggle in Big Topics at Midnight:
“When I finally noticed that we had more money than many, I was embarrassed by my family’s upper-middle class and, later, upper class status. For a time, I wanted to give my family money away, not wanting to be wealthy in a world where so many had so little. Simultaneously, I wanted to keep all of the options that money gave me.
Likewise, I had recently realized how white my world had always been. As I heard story after story of experiences and perspectives of people with darker shades of skin, I wanted to rip off my white skin and the white-colored glasses that had kept me unaware of signs of racism during childhood and into my adult years.
The glow from the streetlight gave the room an eerie light as I considered other parts of myself that had faced the knife. It wasn’t easy for me to admit being a Christian, either. Jesus didn’t embarrass me, but far too many Christians did. Too often the radical heart of the faith was usurped by traditional US cultural values.
As a strong girl turned woman, I thought I’d avoided sexism. In the dark of night I realized that I’d been largely unaware of the ways I’d absorbed patriarchal beliefs throughout my life. I’d grown to respect my use of reason and logic—the skills honored in my family—and ignored my subtler intuition, gut and heart. I’d slipped unaware into the patriarchal way of valuing only one part of me. In addition, I was disgusted that it took over thirty years for me to discover how slowly liberation had come to my home state—married Texan women didn’t even have full legal rights until the late 1960s.
I felt full of holes, like a hunk of Swiss cheese. So much of who I was brought me shame. Projecting that onto Texas and onto the United States of America at the height of her world power, I tried to increase the distance between myself and the culturally affirmed values I no longer accepted.”1
A few Texans want to secede from the union just as I wanted to secede from Texas. When I finally woke up, I realized that this separation was in direct conflict with my heart, faith and values of living in harmony within our global neighborhood. The only way I could live a just life in our diverse world was to first accept the diversity that is me. Not blindly. Not trying to pretend that nothing is amiss in our world. But consciously, with open eyes.
We don’t have the luxury to cut and bail whenever we don’t agree. Our hurting world is teetering too close to midnight for that. We will all thrive together or crash together on this one planet we share. I am a Texan. Texans are Americans. Our world depends on us learning how to get freed from the “distress [and separation] of our oppression and to listen to each other in a present and conscious manner.”2
The time to run away with our toys and hide out with others like us has come to an end. And really, the world is a fascinating playground if we can do the work to “build effective relationships and sustain true alliances.”3