The title of today's blog is taken from a book by Walter Mosley called "The Right Mistake." The point in the story where I found the title is one in which Socrates Fortlow, a sixty-year-old ex-con has decided to start a school and has gathered a group of people around a table for food and then an intense discussion. Socrates gathers local people of all races and social statuses and then asks them to think about what they can do. He acknowledges that the world is messed up and that most of the time people just close their eyes and pretend not to see, but says that if someone were threatening one's children, one would do something immediately so why not now? The conversation leads to a discussion about what each of the individuals at the table does do. It ends up focused on one man who is a killer and who has much animosity directed at him, he also cannot understand why there are people of other races at the table and each character ends up being very honest about their feelings, assumptions, and prejudices against the others.

In grad school, we had many discussions about race and some of the faculty told us that we should be throwing eggs at each other. I vaguely understood what this meant, but it became crystal clear in the telling of Socrates Fortlow's dinner. As the guests leave, they are a little perplexed as to the goal of the dinner, but Socrates assures them that something has just happened that they couldn't experience anywhere else and that is an amazing thing.

The things that we can do can be as small as gather a group of people in a room and talk about that which is often left unsaid. We can discuss race, class, and gender. We can say that which we think and that which we feel. We can make ourselves vulnerable, have our beliefs challenged and try to see another's point of view. We do need to take the time out and ask each other what we can do because often this question will be a check, an opportunity for us to look at what we are doing. And then we also must ask, are we doing what we can?

These questions must be asked of us as individuals and of us as a society. The world is messed up. Young people are being imprisoned. Schools are failing. The environment is being poisoned. Workers are being undervalued. Good work that pays a living wage is incredibly hard to find. All of these things are visible and yet so many ignore the facts. If the first step is taken, if the question of what I can do is asked it will lead to the path of doing something to right these injustices.

Sidenote: Walter Mosley also wrote a book that I adore titled, "The Tempest Tales" about a black man in Harlem who dies and when St. Peter refuses to let him into heaven argues that any sin he committed he had to because it was the right thing to do. He is then sent back to life on earth with an angel in order to prove his point. I highly recommend the book and think that when I finish "The Right Mistake" will also suggest adding it to your reading list.