Trust the Process: “Lives of Reconciliation” with Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige

michelle loyd-paigeInauguration Day brought America a new president, and to Gordon College it also brought an engaging Convocation speaker: Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige, professor of sociology and executive associate to the president for diversity and inclusion at Calvin College.

“While there has been a lot of talking, I would say there’s been a lot of talking to ourselves, that there’s been a lot of talking about each other, that there’s been a lot of talking over each other, and that there’s been a lot of talking past each other,” Loyd-Paige said. In a time of rampant divisiveness, she exhorted her audience to talk with each other. Through conversation, reconciliation is established.

Who embodies “Lives of Reconciliation” more, Loyd-Paige thought, than the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? We celebrate every January the Montgomery bus boycotter and Memphis sanitation striker, who through his civil rights achievements paved the way for a healthier American society.

But reconciliation is a process, not an outcome, Loyd-Paige said, citing 2016 as the “unsettling and unrattling of the United States”—a year that “unearthed the racism that many of us knew was present or wondered maybe we were past.”

There are 892 hate groups and 43 million people living below the poverty line in the U.S., Loyd-Paige said. Black unemployment is twice that of whites; the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population, yet 25 percent of its prisoners. So, what do we do with such injustice?

We have to want reconciliation, Loyd-Paige said, because God wants reconciliation. Outsiders recognize the peacemakers; “there’s an aroma about true children of God,” she said. We must continue going through the process—exhibiting relentlessness and persistence, not being comfort-loving Christians, and emulating lives of reconciliation like Dr. King’s.

By Dan Simonds ’17, communication arts