At your team meeting, frustrations boil over.
“We can’t stand by while our teammates are hurting!”
“If your people would just stop protesting then we’d be all right!”
“I’ve got grievances too, you know.”
“We’re here to do business, not politics. Let’s get back to work.”
“Would someone just tell me what the goal is?”
How do you turn the rising tide of anger into productive action?
Shallow solutions will not work. They never did. You are being asked to speak profound health into a volatile and broken world.
Here’s the path:
- Know why you bother.
- Know the goal: to build thriving communities where individuals can flourish.
- Learn to lament as a community.
- Know what real hope looks like.
These questions are not obvious. I wandered from Vietnam to Selma to the heights and lows of American society before I found these questions. The people who ask these questions ask them because there is a big problem. These are not questions for easy times.
The answers are not obvious. There are many counterfeits.
The hardest part? YOU. This path requires you to meet it with everything you have. It requires courage, insight, wisdom, and exquisite discipline. The path of reconciliation is a razor’s edge. It requires the exquisite training of the mind and heart to walk towards hope along the spine of a society convulsing in tears.
And that path is the path to freedom for us all.
What was the goal for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?
We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization…The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.Martin Luther King, Jr. Facing the Challenge of a New Age, 1956
This Splendorful Path explores the creativity of mercy in the face of the unbearable and irreversible.
This path is about creating and sustaining interruptions in cycles of violence. If these cycles are not interrupted they last generations (that is we condition our children to not question “this is just how it is”). Cycles of violence often make the original victim a perpetrator of violence.
The Splendorful Path is about decisions we make when we realize we have a choice in restoring a broken connection. It realizes that wounds do not heal with peace treaties (though that is an important start). The Splendorful Path is also not about self-destructive giving to abusive people. We are called to be good stewards with the lives we are lent.
Instead, the Splendorful Path starts out with the idea that, “Yes, things are bad. The world is not as it ought to be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Things can be different. We can flourish again.”
What are the elements of a thriving community?
Source: University of Virginia Thriving Cities Project, (now Thriving Communities Group).
What are the signs of a flourishing human?
Source: Consulting Professor of Ethics Theodore Ryan, Ph.D., Duke Business School,
Key Source for A Splendorful Path
A Splendorful Path is a secular work for people of no faith or any faith. The framework (six words) emerged from the roughly twelve words and four questions I learned from Professor Fr. Emmanuel Katongole, Ph.D. and Chris Rice, D. Min., co-directors of the Duke Center for Reconciliation. I served alongside them when I worked at Duke Divinity School as the Executive Director, Social Sector (2008-2011). Their framework is short and powerful for Christian spiritual formation.
Through the Center for Reconciliation’s work, I learned about several people you may read about in the pages of The Splendorful Path book: UN Human Rights Prize Winner Angelina Atyam (Uganda), Aurora Prize Winner Marguerite “Maggy” Barankitse (Burundi), Rev. Malcolm Guite (United Kingdom), Dr. Robert Bungishibaku Katho (Democratic Republic of Congo), and Dr. Célestin Musekura (Rwanda). But for the Center, I would not know these great teachers and heroes.
The Center’s methodology improved through years of teaching. In 2014 the Center’s sister organization in East Africa, the Great Lakes Initiative Leadership Institute, published Christian Leadership for Reconciliation. That book brought additional insight from Scott Schomburg (North Carolina), David Kasali (DR-Congo), Célestin Musekura and Wilfred Mlay (Tanzania). This book can be downloaded here:
Does the methodology work? Yes. The path helped Kenya from erupting into genocide like Rwanda.
Rev. Celestin Musekura, Ph.D., ALARM President, at a Feb. 2008 Kenyan event organized immediately after the path was taught:
And I saw the river
over which every soul
to reach the kingdom of heaven
and the name of that river was suffering:
and I saw a boat
which carries souls
across the river
and the name of that boat
-Written by an unknown poet, often attributed to Juan de la Cruz, 1542-1591