we can't solve problems with the same minds that created them

this week pretty much the topic of conversation here in denver is the democratic national convention.  it really has been a wild week in all kinds of ways. i tried to get tickets to obama’s acceptance speech along with over half of denver but i didn’t make the cut.  i did, however, get a chance to participate in a few other convention events that i was glad to be part of. i am not a democrat anymore (some of you read a bit of my faith & politics journey & know i used to be). i am not a republican anymore (i’m technically registered as one but that’s just because i haven’t spent the energy trying to figure out how to get my affiliation switched to “unaffiliated”).  i do consider myself unaffiliated & look forward to casting my vote in november for barack obama because i really believe he’s the better candidate to help infuse some much-needed change into our country in all kinds of ways. i do not for a minute think he will be our savior.  Jesus has that one covered.  but i do think it will do something important for our country that needs doing.  i am hoping it will bring out our best, but i am also well aware that it’s quite possible it will bring out our worst, too. only time will tell.

on monday i had the privilege of attending a women’s event called “unconventional women” downtown with 3 of my dear friends who are part of the refuge.  the focus was on encouraging women to use their voice to influence change in the system (hopefully through running for office).  i got invited through the white house leadership project, who are committed to supporting & empowering women in all levels of civic leadership.  speaker of the house nancy pelosi was there along with multiple US senators, members of congress, governors & local leaders.  there were too many things to recap but i think what struck me the most was how hard it has been for each of them to make in-roads into the predominantly male political system, but that it’s been worth it because it’s better for our country.  they also shared what i think was one of the most impactful moments of the day:  unless women’s voices are part of the ongoing conversations & decision making & policies of our future, we will never be able to change what we know needs to be changed.

i thought of albert einstein who said: “the significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” i think i could add:”the deep problems we have cannot be solved with only the same people who were part of creating them.” the more diversity at the table, the more likely we’ll be able to create a new future.

i couldn’t help thinking of all the parallels between the political system & church when i was sitting there listening to these women.  a great sadness came over me, too, when i realized how far we have to go when it comes to diversity in the church.  segregation still permeates so many systems.  power is typically held by men.  women are in support roles but rarely in key areas of influence & change. i have great hope in what could be for “the church.”  but i do not have hope that things can really be different until new minds & hearts & energy & passion are at the table influencing change. this means women, minorities, underrepresented & undervalued voices. i think we need each other. i am not pro-women & anti-man. i am pro-people.  i am pro-collaboration.  i believe that we desperately need each other–men, women, all shapes & sizes & colors & experiences–because we bring unique perspectives to the table that the other might be blinded to.  and the only way to diversify, to get new minds & hearts into the conversation, is to make room for those that typically haven’t been included.  the table is big enough. i truly believe that.  it’s just that we aren’t too good at squeezing in more seats. true leadership, in my opinion, is reflected in the ability to give away power instead of protect it, to scooch together, pull up some more seats & say “hey, sit here, we need you. this table is incomplete without you.” imagine what could change if that could be the norm instead of the exception?  

in the same vein, last night we continued the focus on politics with a conversation at our wednesday eve house of refuge about the two candidates. jose did a fun exercise that got everyone talking, especially since our group is all over the place when it comes to political persuasions.  my big takeaway is that i love that we can all sit at the same table & respect each other’s voices & opinions, and at the end of the day the outcome that really matters related to this election is:  “what is God stirring up in me related to how i am going to live my life as a follower of Christ in this crazy world & messed up system?  what can we do different? what do we need to notice? what are some of my responsibilities if i take Jesus’ words seriously?”

today jose, jamison (my 12 year old) and i went with some friends from milehigh ministries to the immigration march downtown.  it was fun to be part & it is an issue that i really am passionate about.

best t-shirt:   “who would jesus deport?”

 best quote i’ve heard in a while, also on the back of a t-shirt, from lilla watson, an aboriginal activist: “if you have come here to help me,  you are wasting your time.  but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

we were at the march today because i believe our liberation is all bound up together.

the civil rights movement was born in the church, and i think it was supposed to be.  i truly believe that as christ-followers, we should be leading the way to advocate for equality for all.  galatians 3:28 makes so clear that in christ we are all one, there is no jew or gentile, male or female, slave nor free.  dr. king and his crew’s efforts & sacrifices lead to us having an african-american candidate for president.  it was and continues to be a rocky road; fear permeates our systems, our churches, and we all know that when we start messing with the status quo things can get a little nutty.  (ps: if you haven’t seen a time for burning yet, it’s well worth the watch).

i am simultaneously excited & scared for our future. i hope we get more minds, more hearts, more voices at the table.  we can’t solve the problems with the same minds that created them.  God, we need your help.

a few DNC-related pix:

my wonderful companions on this crazy journey
my wonderful companions on this crazy journey
thanks for making my job harder
thanks for making my job harder

my favorite sign today
immigration march
the view from behind us
our crew

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Looks like you did a great job, Kathy. And I know what you mean about those people making our job harder. I just wish they could understand that. Unfortunately, they think anything people say to them is persecution, which means they’re on the right track. *sigh*

  • although I disagree with things you say/ have said… that’s okay! 🙂 we can disagree and I still love reading your blog and am challenged by how we are so different….

    I just had one comment…. I think that we are doing dr. King Jr. a big injustice by focusing so much on the color of any candidates skin.

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted society to be blind to the color. He wanted total equality and integration. At least that’s what I thought he wanted… that’s what I want. Isn’t that what GOd would want? To be able to look beyond the physical.

    We are not even close to that yet. We still expect more or less of people dependent on their skin color. It intrigues and confuses me.

  • There’s a lot going on in Denver at the moment – it seems. Beautiful blue skies, a GREAT place to be.

    Who would Jesus deport? – now there’s a thought.

  • Kathy,
    Wow! First of all, all I can say is that it is wonderful you were able to participate in the “unconventional women” conference there in downtown Denver.

    (By the way, did you know that I was born in CO and lived in Arvada until I was 12 years old? Yep. Have good memories of CO).

    I love what you said here:
    “and the only way to diversify, to get new minds & hearts into the conversation, is to make room for those that typically haven’t been included. the table is big enough. i truly believe that. it’s just that we aren’t too good at squeezing in more seats. true leadership, in my opinion, is reflected in the ability to give away power instead of protect it, to scooch together, pull up some more seats & say “hey, sit here, we need you. this table is incomplete without you.” imagine what could change if that could be the norm instead of the exception?”


    Keep up the good work and good blogging!

    ~Amy 🙂

  • I also loved that quote — and now Mccain’s V.P. choice really spices things up for me. He isn’t a stagnant, closed minded, sheltered, one sided man at all like many try to make him seem. He wants change as well – he just wants to keep the same moral code that conservatives have had for a long time. He operates on a different set of principles than Obama in my opinion. Both I believe wanting the same end – having some what of the same vision…. different ways of getting there.

    What do you feel?

  • I think the only thing Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have in common is estrogen.

    Similarly, the contrasts between the two presidential candidates can probably be best seen by looking at whom they serve, and have served during their lives. Probably a good indicator of who they will serve as president, and perhaps a glimpse into what their understandings are of how to serve God.
    I’m glad you made it down there with friends, Kathy.

  • heather – yeah, there have been some wing-dinger stories–trust jesus shirts & lots of hate spewing. there have also been so many lovely christians doing some really great work serving & loving during this week downtown. it was definitely a historic week for denver!

    randi – i love that we disagree & that you like hanging out here 🙂 yes, that was MLK’s dream & i believe God’s, too, but i also recognize that we are not there yet. i am not pro-obama just because of his skin color, that would not be wise or fair. but i think the way we can get to where so many dream of is to increase diversity in all kinds of ways. white privilege is more pervasive than we’d like to think & i would love to be part of anything that breaks that down. concerning mccain’s pick, yeah, that did spice things up a bit for sure, but it doesn’t change anything for me. yes, i believe that both candidates are very sincere & dedicated to serving our country & changing the course of things, i do just see them going at it from different angles. check out the refuge blog next week for a post from one of our friends related to disagreeing politically but keeping our eyes focused on Jesus.

    mark – yeah, lots of denver action, that’s for sure. it was great weather all week, too 🙂 i’ve been pondering the “who would jesus deport?” thought a lot, too.

    brian – crazy is definitely the word!

    amy – yes, i remember that from your story. i do like arvada, especially old town 🙂

    sage – i am with you, they are pretty night and day in so many ways. good thoughts. i loved steve’s comments about our house of refuge, we will post on the refuge next week. that in a nutshell is what i hope for 🙂

  • sounds good! yeah I definitely tend to be one of those ‘types’ that just can see all sides. I always seem to be the one that can understand all angles, feel compassion for all sides, see different point of views…

    we all just have to do what’s right by us based on our experiences and knowledge up to date. I really believe so many (if not all) of us want good … we just have such different ‘information’ because of the paths we’ve walked, what we’ve seen, read, heard.

    I truly believe that as The Body specifically, we are all so interwoven — all connected through Him that no matter at all what our differences are – no matter how far we are away from each other…… if we all ultimately move TOWARD God… because He is ONE pointon top… that we all automatically move closer to each other… oh wow – that’s cool. I like that 🙂 That’s just a play off something I heard at a wedding.

    more on that here:http://randisbooks.blogspot.com/2008/08/quote-womans-heart.html

    anyway – just rambling.

    thanks for sharing yourself.

  • hi – great blog!!! We must remember that freedom for one means freedom for all! (I am from Germany, now a proud US citizen!) FYI for anyone in Colorado, you can register to vote (or change your party affiliation status) by completing the form linked on this page: ttp://www.elections.colorado.gov/DDefault.aspx?tid=415 and mailing it to the appropriate county listed. Thanks for sticking up for immigrants!

  • randi – we’ve been out of town but i wanted to let you know that the post i am talking about related to community & politics will go up on the refuge blog either today or tomorrow. steve wrote another piece but this particular one is directly related to politics & community.

    mika – welcome! thanks for commenting & letting me know about the website, too. i totally agree that all our freedom is connected to one another & we can never take that lightly.

  • nah, it’ll be up tomorrow. our webmaster just got back from out of town & with the holiday we’re a little delayed. it’s called “looking toward the middle”, just a perspective about living in the tension of disagreeing politically but letting our love for Christ be our guiding principle in community


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