June 6, 2022

The Not So United States and the Voice of the Middle Ground - with guest Ruth Jefferson

The Not So United States and the Voice of the Middle Ground - with guest Ruth Jefferson

The etymology of "Voice" is explored, plus...why we're so divided as a society, as a country, as a dot dot dot... (fill in the blank). Matt, talks about the techie side of things, how tech is responsible, how it contributed to the division that we're experiencing, and something he found out that is very interesting about the structure of our government that's led to this division, and Fawn's thoughts on why the division exists and how she thinks it's a tool to keep people disempowered. We turn to Ruth Jefferson from Voice of the Middle Ground and speak with her about the state of our society and discuss the art of building community and connections to build a better way.

The etymology of "Voice" is explored, plus...why we're so divided as a society, as a country, as a dot dot dot... (fill in the blank). Matt, talks about the techie side of things, how tech is responsible, how it contributed to the division that we're experiencing, and something he found out that is very interesting about the structure of our government that's led to this division, and Fawn's thoughts on why the division exists and how she thinks it's a tool to keep people disempowered. We turn to Ruth Jefferson from Voice of the Middle Ground and speak with her about the state of our society and discuss the art of building community and connections to build a better way.





The Middle Ground

[00:00:00] Fawn: Hi, welcome back everybody. Welcome to our friendly world. Hello?

[00:00:04] Matt: Hello hello!.

[00:00:06] Fawn: We're here. We have a new friend to introduce you to today. Yeah, we do. Before we get into introducing you to this beautiful new friend in your life, I was looking at etymology of certain words again, and I looked up the word voice;

The sound made by the human mouth with, see, I don't like it when people or definitions always go to the human being. They don't think that other creatures on the planet have voice.

[00:00:37] Matt: Right, right, right. Like my buddy growing up, they had a, they had a parrot that could mimic the mother's


[00:00:43] Fawn: Is this the racist parrot or the racist duck? There was a racist duck,

[00:00:46] Matt: racist duck. And actually, uh, actually the parrot was racist too.

[00:00:50] Fawn: Okay. Fantastic. All right. So. Late 13th


[00:00:55] Matt: Maybe we should actually describe why, as opposed to just letting that go.

[00:00:59] Fawn: What do you mean? Okay.

[00:01:00] Matt: It's because they had a neighbor, Bill who was, unfortunately, he was white and rather tall.

He didn't actually look like me, but he was white and rather tall and they were Hispanic and he would torment the bird. And so the bird would always snap at anybody who they thought were, was actually this guy bill. And unfortunately I looked enough like Bill, that he was snapping at


[00:01:18] Fawn: And what happened with the duck?

Same thing with

[00:01:20] Matt: the, it was a similar thing with a duck. Yeah. And also I think the duck was also trying to protect territory and didn't think I belong there.

[00:01:27] Fawn: Okay. All right. Can I, can I move on now?

Now you can. Yes.

Right. So voice 13th century sound made. Can I just say a mouth. Whatever it just says mouth because there are other ways I want to fight every definition, any, anything, clinical, whatever I want to fight it, but I'm just going to read to you what it says.

The etymology 13th century, sound made by the human mouth, old French: " speech, word, saying, rumor, report." Then you have the Latin, which means "voice, sound, utterance, cry, call, speech, sentence, language, word. " Then we have some sources from Italian and Spanish which is "to call."

We get further and we get into old English, prodo, Germanic,

uh, and then they get into the meaning; "ability in a singer," which is interesting.

The ability in a singer is first attested, circa 1600 meaning "expression of feeling, et cetera." in reference to groups of people, et cetera. It's interesting because, it gets into meaning "invisible spirit or force that directs or suggests, especially in the context of insanity, as in hear voices in one's head as from 1911." That's the noun version.

Then you get into the verb, which is to " to express, give utterance to a feeling opinion," et cetera, from 1867 as "utter a letter sound with the vocal chords related to voiced, voicing" whatever. Okay. This is getting too much. It was not that interesting actually, but Hey, but what got me was, um, the singing and was the other thing I said,

[00:03:27] Matt: you said a lot of things,

[00:03:28] Fawn: the invisible spirit or force that directs or suggests, which is what I was trying to say in the beginning, that voice doesn't have to be the voice coming from the mouth.

It is an expression. Something that came across my way a little bit ago; a quote. It said, "Thank you for letting me know your thoughts. Thank you for letting me know your thoughts. And at first I thought, oh, that's great. And then I thought, no, it's really not. Because I remembered how, when I was being trained as a photographer, in my teens,

I was always told when you go show your work to someone, they may be awful to you. They may reject you and say horrible things, and you should always shake their hand and thank them for their time. One day and I told you guys this already, but there was this one time where I just came to this conclusion within myself.

And I said, I will never shake someone like that. Again, not shake someone. I will never shake someone's hand like, oh, how do I say this? The kind of person that was coming at me, I will never touch their hand or thank them for their time because I just, I came across so many, terrible. Mean-spirited racist people that were looking at my work and they were obviously so triggered.

I hate that word triggered, but they were obviously so distraught over images that they, that makes them uncomfortable. Right? Um, no, I want nothing. I don't want to touch their


[00:05:05] Matt: Well, there's also, to me, there's a sense of you want to be genuine because you know, you want the person to know when you really do appreciate their time.

It's like, it's like spinal tap going to 11. It's like, if I always say thank you for your time. And I always sound sincere and I always feel sincere then how does somebody really know when I really, really mean it? So being genuine factors into that for me,

[00:05:26] Fawn: but see, I was taught regardless. That's what you say and that's what you do.

Right? So when I came across this, that said, where is it now? I forgot where it went. Thank you for letting me know your thoughts. I went back and forth, but then. W what I, what I came to thinking was because we are so divided right now, because things are so volatile in our society right now. And I know where it comes from.

I know where it stems from. And I'm talking about people that I don't want in my circle, hearing their thoughts, but they are that way. Everyone is a certain way because they're not being heard because they haven't told their stories because they haven't expressed their pain. And so everyone needs to be seen and heard, even if they are totally in the wrong, you understand, you have to understand

you have to understand where they're coming from. Right. Otherwise you're just going to have continuous conflict. Right. But, so then I started looking at these words, "thank you for letting me know your thoughts." And I thought it's really beautiful. And you know what? It even works on the extreme. So let's say I come across that racist person in the photography industry.

I can say, thank you for letting me know your thoughts. Because back before this decade, racism was like a little bit more hidden. So I was thankful when someone told me their thoughts, because I knew to myself, I was thinking, well, now I know what, where they stand. It's not my imagination. Do you know what I'm saying?

Right. So if you are expressing hate inside of you because of where I come from, because of the color of me, because of my background, it's best that I know for sure what your thoughts are. And I appreciate that. Thank you very much. Do you know what I'm saying? It's just, it makes me feel.


[00:07:28] Matt: Well, yeah, no.

And we've said this on a number of occasions. People will invariably tell you who they are if you pay attention.

[00:07:36] Fawn: Yeah. But like with, uh, with THAT, Matt, when someone is, you know, when they hate you for whatever reason and has nothing to do with anything you've done, but it has to do with your background, who you are as a human being.

And if it's not expressed out loud, it's just a weird it's, it's, it's a very B I don't want to say uncomfortable. It's a, it's a scary thing because in your gut, you know, something is really wrong, but you can't prove it. And you know, like I would come to you and say, Matt, this happened and you didn't want to believe that such hatred was out there and being thrown at me.

So I would think, well, maybe it was my imagination, but when someone expresses it, thank you for letting me know your thoughts. I really appreciate it. So I don't think you can go wrong with that. What do you think? Thank you for letting me know your thoughts. I mean, I'm taking it to a very bad place, but I think it's a good thing to do.

I think it's a tool we can use when we're speaking with one another, especially if we have wildly different points of view; that if we at least say that it is kind of like saying, thank you. I hear you. I see

[00:08:48] Matt: you. Right. And there's something wrong about saying, well, I guess we're just going to agree to disagree on that then, because that feels like I'm in the moral high ground or I'm right.

And I know you're wrong as opposed to, to

[00:09:00] Fawn: me, those are fighting words. When someone says that to me, I want to throw everything down and tackle the person

[00:09:07] Matt: every time I hear it, I, I.

[00:09:11] Fawn: Right. Okay. So I'm sorry. I totally digress. Everybody. Welcome. Hello. Yay. Happy show the show. I want to introduce you to a new friend.

Our new friend is a little shy. Her name is Ruth Jefferson, Ruth. Maybe you want to plug your ears and go LA la lalalllalalala. Ruth is so shy, she does not like people embracing her greatness in front of her. Like, oh, she's totally. Oh, she took off her. She's not listening. Okay. So, all right, here I go. Um, I will just signal when I'm done talking about her. All right.

You guys, Ruth Jefferson. She is beautiful, wise, compassionate and loving Ruth Jefferson. She's originally from Texas, a Texas native Matt. A lot of our friends were from Texas. Isn't that wild?.

[00:10:00] Matt: Well, Texas is a big state, a lot of people,

[00:10:02] Fawn: but a lot of our friends are from Texas or come from Texas.

They've moved around. But anyway, she's a, y'all, she's a Texas native and through, through her y'all I love, I wish I wish I had a Texan accent. I

[00:10:17] Matt: actually really liked the word


[00:10:19] Fawn: oh, Ruth is laughing. So she must be hearing something. Are you listening? I can't hear you. You're on mute.

[00:10:28] Ruth: I'm seeing your facial expressions and wondering why.

[00:10:33] Fawn: Okay. I'm not done yet. Okay. Okay.

All right. So she's traveled around. So through her travels, she's found her passion for racial diversity and justice. Currently she works with communities in Minnesota to empower churches and organizations to be agents for a healing and change. Love her. Ruth is the founding director of Voice of the Middle Ground, an organization dedicated to supporting these goals, wherever the opportunity arises and promoting and fostering, spiritual, emotional, and physical resilience within communities, which is perfect because that's what we're all about, how to build community, how to build connection, and how to voice things, right.

How to bring people together. To know more about Ruth and to reach her, visit https://voiceofthemiddleground.com/ and I'm, I'm going to wave at her and tell her that we're done gushing over her. Let me go a little bit more though, but I'm, I'm serious guys.

She is the most beautiful person and it's like, I don't know how she would do at a party. Like this is what we do, right? If we're at a party, we gush over our friends and introduce them to other friends. So friends around the world, please meet Ruth, Ruth Jefferson. Okay. I'm going to wave to her and say, we're done her ear buds are going back in,

[00:12:14] Fawn: Hi. Hi Ruth Ruth. Meet everybody. Welcome to our friendly world. Welcome to our kitchen. Welcome. We already gave Ruth A. Little, um, a little tour. R this portion of our kitchen, our kitchen is currently packed. Um, but the spices are still here.

[00:12:35] Ruth: including the dried limes,

[00:12:37] Fawn: including the dried limes.

Yes. Uh, Ruth. Welcome. This is what we're going to talk about today. Guys, the art of building community, the art of building connections, the art of sharing our experiences. I mean, that's the bottom line, sharing our experiences.

we're going to talk about how to build a better society, how to communicate. We're going to find out the definition of middle ground. We're going to find out more about life, the life that Ruth has. Ruth's life work, Ruth life's work. The reason you guys, they made me Matt and Ruth made me change the title of this show today.

I won't tell you what the title actually was in my mind, but what we really want to get into is figuring out the reason for the state of division in the United States, something that I have always thought about. And it's kind of gone to the kids. I was out with little Alegra. We went out to one of our favorite stores and, you know, Al and Alegra will say the funniest things out of the blue.

To me, they're funny because it's not a joke. They find things to say, in a short little phrase that just cracks me up. So we were standing there looking at these beautiful things in this store and all of a sudden. She's looking out in space. And she looks at me, she's like "The not so United States." I don't know where that came from. We were looking at some French things. Were at the French store. That's what she said. The not so United States.

Isn't that funny? It is. Okay. So we want to get into why it is that the United States is the way it is at the moment, I wanted to say, why is it that there's so much conflict? Why are we so violent? But I won't say that. All right, well, we have some questions for Ruth. What's her take on this?

Why does she feel we're so divided as a society, as a country, as a dot dot dot.. Fill in the blank, Matt, we'll talk about the techie side of things, how tech is responsible and how it contributed to the division that we're experiencing, and found out something very interesting about the structure of our government that's led to this division.

And my thoughts on why I think the division is here.

All right. Should I go first? I'll go first. Okay. I just want to talk about the division thing. And this is something I have always talked about. That's why I'm doing this whole thing on the art of friendship.

Because traveling from country to country, photographing different countries, photographing different cultures. Every time I came back, it was like this affirmation for me, like it reaffirmed what I felt was wrong, growing up in the United States as an immigrant. Because I had different eyes than you would Matt.

And I was treated differently. From the time that I was like knee high to my parents, I would notice things that were said to my parents, horrible things like just to strip someone's dignity in a second. And that's why I'm so the way I am with our kids when we're at the store, because I find that people still, they now talk to me the way my parents were talked to, like, you don't belong here, go back to where you came from.

Or, you know, getting in my face and being really sarcastic, you know, saying some word that where whatever country they think I'm from and like saying that we're really loud inches away from my face. And so I have to explain to our kids and I've had to explain to them ever since they were toddlers, what is happening?

I wasn't going to ignore the situation. It became a teaching teaching moment. Every time we went out. Right. And so I digress, I forgot what I was talking about was I saying, oh, so I notice things growing up and then I thought maybe it's just me. But every time I went in my older years, every time I photographed any other place, every time I came back, I had this kind of culture shock, like, wow, we really treat each other differently in the United States than people treat each other in France or in Ethiopia or you name it, like wherever I went, the way I saw friendship, the way I saw families, the way I saw people bonding and, and eating together, like all the things that we do, it was a little different over here in the United States.

And it, it made me sad and throughout the years, I decided, you know what, I want to take notes. And so, and then when we got together, Matt, we went through this whole thing. We described this in the very, very first show that we did, why we're doing the whole friendship movement thing, because we believe that's the key to having a better life, a better society, a more thriving economy,

,a racially harmonious like a utopia, even type of society, if we remember the art of friendship. That when we see that we are family, we can thrive and being a friend is being married. Being married is not just romantic. You have to respect one another. If there's no respect, love will not survive.

That needs to happen with your children. It needs to happen with your partner and everyone just remember, the world is a small town and everyone's your friend. Your neighbors are your friends, your children are your friends, your partner is your friend. And like what we're talking about today,

"division". I came to this conclusion that this division, that we're feeling that sense of loneliness that for the most part before the pandemic, no one wanted to admit that they were lonely. because they feel embarrassed, as if something's wrong with you and that's why people would get so offended whenever I talked about the art of friendship, what I was doing, and what I was thinking about people would get so offended thinking that I was saying to them, you don't know how to have friends and you don't have any friends. I wasn't saying that at all, but you know, people would be so defensive

[00:19:05] Matt: of course.

[00:19:06] Fawn: And so what I'm trying to say is that it could be seen as, from my perspective, it's kind of a tool to keep us separate from one another. when you feel like when you don't have your comrades, when you don't have your buddies next to you, shoulder to shoulder, and I'm not talking about having likes and followers and you know, all these people online, that's not real.

That's like the one friend or the two friend that we talk about when we go back to Nicomachean ethics, those are not true friends. The true friend is the number three friend who is friends with you because they love you. They love you throughout all of it. They love every part of you for who you are.

Not because you're selling a course. Not because they can have an advantage in life because you're in their circle. It's just because of pure respect and acknowledgement of you as a human being on this earth, in this universe. When we feel like we don't have that, when we don't have that in our lives, in our neighborhoods, it feels like you're not as powerful.

If you want to voice an opinion, , the tendency is not to voice the opinion. Because you're the lone voice and it's so easy to have something go wrong or for you to be attacked because you have no backup. But when you have friends, you walk down the street more powerfully. Is that a word more powerful?

You're more able to relax because you're not on guard all the time. You don't feel like you're a crazy when something happens because you have a witness to say, wow. Yeah, no, I noticed that too. You're not alone in that. I heard that. I saw that. I'm right here with you. You know what I'm saying? And so I think that it's a very convenient thing to have such division because it creates a fragmented society where there's no cohesion.

There's no sense of coming together for a common cause because there is so much confusion and distraction and disempowerment in not having friends in not really pursuing this art of friendship. So I think that this division is used as a weapon to keep our society as messed up as it is right now.

So anyway, that's my thought. Matt.

[00:21:34] Matt: Wow. And I'm just going to rain on everybody's parade too. So, but I mean, we can almost like go back to ancient Greece. We love the ancient Greeks and we can talk about Socrates and we can talk about the fact that first of all, he heard voices, which is a whole other thing, but to take us back to voice, but also, keep in mind he was in the marketplace. He would talk to everybody, but the only people who would really talk back who he would have conversations with would be the young. And they started sparking all these challenging ideas. And he ended up drinking hemlock because he was corrupter of the youth. And, he was challenging their gods too, because he heard this voice spiritual anyways, makes things, oh my goodness, tricky.

Argue all you want, but, ancient Greeks certainly started to pave the way for our quote unquote modern society. So we start with that challenging history. And then we take a look at what's going on now. It's almost like, I almost want to say I blame the remote control on the TV because it's so easy to say, oh, I don't want to watch that. Click

[00:22:39] Fawn: mute,

[00:22:40] Matt: click.

Click and we have our choices of hundreds, maybe even thousands, God knows of different channels to watch and different segments to look at. And I could spend my entire life just watching one particular program or one particular channel that presents one particular viewpoint. And then we got the internet, which kind of even takes those admittedly small market segments and makes them even smaller.

So I can literally find left-handed Lithuanian basket weavers, and I can join a community of them. Oh my God. You know, where is, where's it? Where's the challenge. Where is the art of discussion? Where's the thought of, I like it when people disagree with. I really do because you know how come? Let's figure out why you do disagree with me. Maybe I'm wrong.

Maybe I'm not wrong. Maybe you're wrong. Maybe both of us are wrong. Maybe neither one of us is wrong. And we're just not seeing what the other person sees. And we've lost that because basically places like, Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram, I mean, we're all presenting our best self and we're presenting our best self to a receptive audience or a toxic audience.

We don't really hear from those people who are like "meh". I don't know. I don't think I agree with you, but I'm not moved enough to say anything about it. So we either get, you're perfect or death threats,

[00:24:09] Fawn: and you're not noticed unless you have that, this course of negativity.

Right. Sometimes the algorithm only works in your benefit if you create strife

[00:24:20] Matt: well, and that's another thing like Facebook realized that the way to quote unquote engaged people is to infuriate them. So they present very challenging pieces of content because they want to engage you.

They want to keep you stuck to their site as long as possible. And that's all they care about. They don't care about moving the society to a terrible place or a great place. They literally don't care. They're literally following the money and that's what they have learned through testing and spending and all the rest of it.

And then we move away from even a big company like a Facebook. And then we moved to, I'm almost afraid to say it, but we moved to sites like four Chan

[00:25:00] Fawn: What's that?

[00:25:00] Matt: Yeah, exactly. Well, four Chan is where,

[00:25:03] Fawn: like, how do you

spell it?

[00:25:05] Matt: The letter, I don't want to give them that much advertising

[00:25:10] Fawn: they're evil.

Um, nevermind.

[00:25:14] Matt: Okay. They're bad

so there have been documented cases where the people who do the terrible, terrible God, awful things in America are literally on these tiny little message boards on sites like this. And that's where they publish their manifestos.

[00:25:34] Fawn: Oh my God.

[00:25:35] Matt: Yeah, exactly. And yet free speech is free speech and that's, what's so painful.

It's like, you know, I may not agree with you, but to say you can't say things, I have a hard time back and forth with, and, and this has been one of, I think the problems in our country forever, but I think back in the day, we had a responsible third estate, the newspapers and the media to try and present both sides of an issue for instance. There weren't opportunities for us to be able to ignore the other side of the argument.

But I think where we sit now, we can ignore the other side of the argument, or we don't understand the other side of the argument because it's not presented to us because that might be challenging. We may turn away as soon as our thoughts and beliefs get challenged. But then the problem that we have, I think, as a society is because our thoughts are never challenged when we're in a position where we can voice them and get them challenged.

We don't know what to do with that. And we end up in this world of either run and hide or death threats, and that's a terrible place to be. It should be okay to say, you know, it should be okay to be somebody like Liz. And disagree with and not get death threats.

[00:26:53] Fawn: It's not just her.

[00:26:55] Matt: And I know it's not just her, but she's a particularly interesting


[00:26:58] Fawn: from that one side.

Yeah. I'm sorry, go on. And I wanted to argue with you about one other thing about newspapers. They were, what was, how did, what did you say about newspapers that they were, how did you describe them? No, but how did you describe them?

[00:27:14] Matt: They're at least going to attempt to show both sides of an issue.

They are absolutely slanted because that's where they are.

[00:27:22] Fawn: That's what I wanted to bring up a little issue, which may make us go in a different direction. But I just want to say that, what'd you say again that they were not biased?

[00:27:32] Matt: Well, they would, they would attempt to report both sides.

[00:27:34] Fawn: Okay. Yeah. I disagree as a person of color because.

Whenever something would happen the way they would describe people that were not white was basically putting us in the wrong before anything was even proven or anything. Do you know what I'm saying? I do.

[00:27:56] Matt: I do. And I'm not going to pretend that bias doesn't exist. I mean, that's just, that's a fool's errand, but you know where we've gotten to as a society, particularly now that newspapers are fading, if not faded, is that we're not having, we're not seeing that kind of middle ground, unless we really go hunting and looking for it.

And frankly, do I really want to go out on the internet and start Googling points of view that disagree with my own and. I do that sometimes I do that a lot of times, but we're very much moving into a very conflict based society. I can even say one of the interesting factoids that I've bumped into lately, that really is made me like sit and really think about for a minute

[00:28:40] Fawn: is the Senate thing

[00:28:42] Matt: back when

[00:28:42] Fawn: Newton, they listen to this, listen to this, wait, hold on, hold on.

You guys, this, this actually blew my mind. I just want to put in

[00:28:49] Matt: and this is Congress. This isn't Senate

[00:28:50] Fawn: . Oh, I'm sorry. I just want to put emphasis on what Matt is about to say. Like it really, like it brought light to the situation, not light, like, oh, everything's wonderful. But it's very interesting. What you found out.


[00:29:04] Ruth: Can I say something before we change? I think, one of the things when we're talking about the newspaper is not, not only the way that people of color were represented, but sometimes the way, and I would say, even a lot of times, historically things were not presented at all that affected the black community, which is one of the reasons why there had to be the black press in the first place

[00:29:26] Fawn: or, or church.

Right. Like when you're not welcome into a place, you have to create your own.

[00:29:31] Matt: That is definitely true.

[00:29:32] Fawn: Totally.

[00:29:33] Matt: Okay. So back when Newt Gingrich was speaker of the house, meaning he's like the head muckety muck in the house of representatives, he discouraged, any new Congress critters from moving their families to Washington DC.

Now, what does that mean? And you can make arguments on both sides of it. One of the arguments you can make to saying this was a good call was, you know, it keeps your family grounded in the community that elected them. And so, they're going to be more receptive and more open, and they're going to be frankly, in their home congressional districts, much more often to be with their wife, be with their family, you know, be with a wife, husband, be with their family.

But what it also does is on the other side of it is it keeps Congress critters, as I like to call them, from forming bonds with other congresscritters and okay, that doesn't necessarily sound like who cares, but by the same token, it's like, if your kid and my kid are in the same school, we talk about your kid and my kid being in the same school.

It doesn't matter that I'm, uh, American socialist, a Democrat or Republican and you're something else or whatever it happens to be. And so we get, we start forming common ground, and then it's easier to, I don't know, reach across the aisle and pass legislation without it becoming this whole matter of well, if I do this for you, you do this for me. It doesn't become this whole trading favors.

And what we're seeing now, certainly in Congress is, you vote your party or you get voted out and that's a frightening place to be in. And all of a sudden it's like, wow, this one Congress critter is voting differently. And all of a sudden they're super imp. It's like, they're super important because they're voting their conscience, their voting, their, their beliefs.

Uh, it's all very


[00:31:21] Fawn: So in Congress, they've definitely set up a. System or a situation where you can't get to know your neighbors, you can't be friends

[00:31:28] Matt: they make it harder to get to know your neighbors and thus, you know, call it dehumanizing, calling it, call it whatever


[00:31:34] Fawn: want

want. And then that trickles down to the rest of us not being friends either because it, that, that division further gets amplified.

[00:31:45] Matt: And there you go.

[00:31:47] Fawn: Interesting. So we're talking a lot because we, all, the three of us are agreed. Matt would say his, his share. I would say my share. And then we wanted Ruth to come in and grace us.

[00:32:01] Matt: But I have one more, one more sad, sad point

[00:32:04] Fawn: sorry, go ahead.

[00:32:05] Matt: So, uh, when asked random congressperson, you know, what is your number one responsibility here?

They all typically say it's to get reelected, not is to help.

[00:32:20] Fawn: We already knew that. Yeah, I know, but that just, but they

admitted it.

[00:32:24] Matt: Yeah. That makes me sad. And somebody wanted, yeah, it was like, it was like the, uh, the reporter who asked the question was like, what? But, that's part of where we've degenerated into; a Congress critter should be there to help people, you know?

And actually what's fascinating is in the original founding documents for our country political parties, aren't mentioned. You know, they really believed and as it turns out incredibly naively that political parties would not exist, that people would elect; we really like, you know, Fred Smith because he's a, he's a standup guy or whatever it is, and he's gonna represent us and our country and the best way possible.

Versus now we're going to elect Fred Smith because he's in this political party or because he has an endorsement from such-and-such.

[00:33:17] Ruth: Yeah. Question for you

and your response to that statement. Um, do you think it's that they didn't think that there would be political parties or do you think that they didn't necessarily envision what it is we're seeing today?

Because at the end of the day, even back so many years ago, there were things like Whigs and Tories, Federalists and anti-federalists


things like that.

[00:33:40] Matt: Yeah, no, no, no, absolutely. And we've seen a different whole different political parties come and go, but we're talking about the original framers of the constitution.

We're talking about way back when, before we had anything, they didn't envision political parties. And, I get the fact that it's good to have voting blocks of different parties. I get that fact. It's just the fact that we have two, leads us into this weird conflicting state.

Whereas if we were like other modern democracies and we had lots of different political parties and you had to form a coalition and all the rest of it, then the art of compromise is all over the place. And I think part of what's going on right now, politically, and then we're seeing this reflected down in, people's personal beliefs is that there is no art of compromise.

It's my way or the highway,


[00:34:27] Fawn: This may be another show, but I don't understand why we keep going back to the constitution. Because first of all, they said, all men are created equal. First of all, they're saying men, but also they didn't consider anyone who was not white as human beings. So, you know, why, why do we keep going back to exactly what they said.

I just don't


[00:34:51] Matt: It's a living document and open to interpretation and it's allowed to grow. It's allowed to breed. It is because of amendments. It is

allowed to grow

[00:35:01] Fawn: well it takes many 50, 60 years

to have one amendment.

[00:35:06] Matt: It requires the will of lots of people and I'm not going to sit here and defend the original, complete, original thoughts behind this document because you're right.

And then all of a sudden, gee, willikers, we're going to count, you know, black people as three-fifths of a person, they still can't vote. But we'll use that as far as like determining representation in Congress. So there are three fifths there's there's a lot of wrongness there,

[00:35:28] Fawn: so we need Ruth to come in now.

Um, I was thinking, so she, she is the voice of the middle ground. I started to look at what middle ground really means. I only know, first of all, I don't know what a middle ground is because I'm not the type of person that can be. Okay. Well, I had, first of all, I had to look it up like, what is the middle ground?

Because, I mean, I only know there were two definitions and I only really could relate to the second definition, which is the middle distance of a painting or a photograph.

Then I'm like, okay, what are some other words for a middle ground? And I found "central points". I found "balance", which is nice "neutral ground." the first meaning was an area of compromise or possible agreement between two extreme positions, especially political ones.

That's the definition like right. Of, of the middle ground, but all right, so now we're done ranting, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, my darling, Ruth. First question for you. What were we going to. Are we ever going to let Ruth talk

[00:36:39] Matt: I know, I know. And by the way, Ruth by all means, light me up every time you feel like the need to so

[00:36:46] Fawn: question for you, Ruth, as we go on is the first question we initially had is what is your take? What, why do you feel that's our country, our society is so divided the way it is? What happened? And when we had this conversation, I loved what you explained to me.

It was like, you went back to the founding of the nation and you were talking about how everyone's always running.

[00:37:11] Ruth: I think if we're, if we're going to talk about one of like, one of the reasons why we are divided, it starts with the founding of the country. It starts with people came to the country. Some of them came because they were being persecuted for their religious beliefs, others of them, were being put here because they had committed crimes and things like that.

And in that sense,

If we start with what happened in the beginning there, and the fact that they couldn't necessarily go home because of those things, you end up with people who are in a position where they feel like they have to run where they feel like they have to be constantly on the move from those things to the point that they don't even really necessarily consider the ramifications of the actions that they take.

And then if we look also at other communities that were negatively affected by the actions that they did choose to take, when they got here, then there is that, that negativity that's there. Like as far as things that people have to overcome now, like, like the trauma, like being programmed, basically to look at other people in different ways that they wouldn't have necessarily looked at people.

So you, when you look at those things like intergenerational trauma and other challenges that we see going on in our society, A lot of that starts with people being on the run instead of trying to work through things and work through things together. There's division. And that, that really in a lot of ways is kind of a natural resulting, I would say of that original.

[00:38:46] Matt: It is an interesting thing. And it does kind of, you know, God. It is kind of ingrained into the quote unquote work ethic in America. I mean, we do tend to never take vacations and you know, we're always hustling and we always need to hustle

[00:39:04] Fawn: and it's not by choice

moving and we're always in

[00:39:08] Matt: survival mode.

It always feels like, I mean, and certainly nowadays for sure. But it always feels like a fear of missing out that has gone and, and embraced now inside of all aspects of what we do. So it's like, you have to be available 24 7. When do you get a break?

[00:39:25] Fawn: Ruth, do you think we're like a take, take, take, take kind of society. The people who came here didn't know how to survive. A lot of them got very sick and died.

They didn't know how to grow food, right? Like the first round of people that came didn't know how to survive. There was a lot of challenges for sure. The weather, the climate's like nothing. They didn't know how to do anything.

And then the second round, they came with more supplies and they were able to do better. But, I want to say that this place was built on a take, take, take, taking, taking land that belongs to no one like the first nation people. You don't own land. That is ridiculous. It's a ridiculous concept.

But to take someone, to take people, to take the land, to take the gifts and like, take it, take it, take it because you are in survival. You would only act that way if you are about to cross to a death situation. Where you need something so desperately, you're not going to live the next second.

So you just take

[00:40:37] Matt: it off of bread or do you starve to death?

[00:40:40] Fawn: Right? It's a conversation, Matt and I have all the time. Like what point do you think you would steal? And I would say I would never do that. And you always say no human nature. You get to a point where you have to seal steal it from your family.

You will steal it for your family. You'll do anything for your family. Or I just feel like it's come to the point where we do anything for ourselves, and it's not like that for every community, but I feel like the ones that are so distraught and under so much pressure and under so much duress. What's the word I'm looking for there they're in survival mode, then the rest of society starts looking like that kind of behavior.

Ruth, is that kind of what you think is happening? Like it's been that way from the beginning

[00:41:25] Ruth: I would

say that that's definitely, what I would think as far as that. When it comes to the, the busy-ness though, and the fact that people do things like, uh, like work so many hours or make other people work so many hours, I think part of what happens when people are at the top, making other people work that many hours might be the fact that they are wanting other people basically to support their habit of working.

And they can't necessarily do what they want to do. And in regard to that, without other people also feeding into that. So in a sense, I guess it's like, an enabling to where I work becomes an addiction and it becomes like, like this thing so that they don't have to stop and they don't have to sit with themselves in silence because when we do sit with ourselves in silence and all of the things that we have been running from ultimately end up coming back to


[00:42:23] Fawn: Yes. And that's a whole big issue right there. That's true. We're constantly running, running from our thoughts. That's why it's hard for people to just sit and be. It's too painful because those thoughts will catch up. Everything will catch up to you. Okay. The truth will come out.

Your deeds will come back good or bad,

[00:42:47] Matt: Absolutely

[00:42:48] Fawn: side note: this is why I like Days of Our Lives. I watched the soap opera. I dunno, I got, I got hooked as a kid when I was home sick from school, I got addicted to Days of Our Lives. And now I've gotten our kids addicted to it. But, but you know what?

It's a teaching experience because of what I learned from this show from the soap opera is lies will get you nowhere. You'll, they'll always catch up with you. Live your life, do not lie, don't hide anything and whatever you've done face up to it immediately. Otherwise you just drag on and drag everybody else in with you to this horrible existence.

Anyway, side note. Thanks "Days." (Matt: "Lord! in a sarcastic tone)

don't lie. Don't do bad things. And when you do, fess up and move on. It's also the 90 second rule. If you experience an emotion, no matter how hard, if you fully, fully, fully feel it, it's recorded. The chemistry in your body, needs 90 seconds and it will get flushed out of your system.

It won't get stored in your body. If you'll allow for those thoughts to remain there for 90 whole seconds, uninterrupted, you feel the pain completely. And then you move on like chemically. But I think part of the reason we're in so much trouble is we don't talk about our pain.

We don't talk about the things we have done. We don't admit it. We don't share our stories. And then we don't want to hear each other's stories because as time goes on more and more gets piled up. And now it's like, where do we start?

[00:44:34] Matt: You're absolutely right.

[00:44:35] Ruth: I think part of it goes back to, what we were talking about earlier in terms of social media, because when we have those negative feelings, like guilt or like anger or things like that, there's a, there's like a natural tendency to focus on okay, part of it is how will this make other people perceive me? And so there's like this, this feeling of constantly being watched. And so you don't want to fess up to those things because if you fess up to that, does it make you, does this make me a bad person in other people's eyes? Not even necessarily like, stopping to think about what it is that what it is, the action, the action is.

[00:45:15] Fawn: Haven't you all noticed when you do fess up to your feelings and you put aside the fear of getting judged, when you do express your story or your emotions, I want to say always, you have people that come up to you and go, I feel the same way.

[00:45:35] Matt: Right? But what you're afraid of is you're not afraid of like 10 people coming up and saying, I feel your pain.

I've been there. You're afraid of those hundred people who are going to tell you, God knows what

[00:45:45] Fawn: but I think what, what has caused us to not hear other people's pain? Let's put it on the other side. Yeah. The person doesn't want to be judged.

They don't want to get in trouble. I don't know what the word is for it, but let's look at the other side. Why are we not open to hearing other people's stories. I think it's because of guilt because you know, you're responsible maybe, but I either that you've done something to that person or you're living a life that ignored it.

And when you ignore some injustice, you know, deep down, that's as bad as doing it. What would help is to say, I'm hearing what you're saying right now. I see your pain.

And so what is it that as people of color, we can't express our stories

[00:46:45] Ruth: I would

say if, if we're talking, if turning back the topic to people of color, we also have to look at slavery itself. I know there's a lot of people in there. Like you can't really just get over that.

But the fact of the matter is no, because during slavery, you have people who were actively encouraged to look at other people as, as not people, people who are actively encouraged to not see the pain that other people are going through or to not see it or to hide, if they do see it, because if you say something you could get in trouble too.

Or if you see this person as someone who is like you, then it really messes with your image of yourself and your own feelings of powerlessness and everything else. And so when we bring that into today, and especially when we're looking at families who were still being affected by that through things like intergenerational trauma, then what you see is those kinds of patterns continuing.

And so we're not able to sit with the stories of others because in part, one of the reasons is we're not able to sit with our own. And then another is the fact that there's still that programming. That's like, I can't see this because , if I see it, or if I say something about it, then, I mean, what's going to happen to me.

[00:48:10] Fawn: Wow.

[00:48:10] Ruth: And I think another thing that kind of comes into play there, um, I think that's when we start getting into masking and stuff like that.

[00:48:18] Fawn: Can you elaborate on that? What does that mean, "masking"?

[00:48:22] Ruth: So masking, basically, adopting the patterns and behaviors of the predominant culture in order to kind of fit in or in order to survive predominant culture at this point.

And, and I don't even know statistically, it bears out at this point, but I mean, they do white people do, statistically have more as far as like positions of power and things like that. So in order to fit in, you kind of have to adapt that, that sort of an attitude, at least publicly. And a lot of what we see there is that people don't want to see the things that are actually happening.

People don't want to see it and so they don't. And so if you say something or if you talk about how something is difficult for you, because of how this person over here is treated, then there's there's questions that come back to you. For example, there was like a week span at one point, not too long ago, where there were people being just, um, th the situation, well, the murder of Lyoya happened, then there was the decision not to try, locks, killers.

Then there was all of that that happened within that span. If you're someone who is deeply affected by that, because, Hey, these are people who look like me, and these are experiences that, that they're having, that I'm also afraid of, if that affects you, and you show that to some people, depending on the person that can make you someone who gets isolated

[00:49:59] Fawn: and true.

Yeah. And so I'm sorry. Yes. No, go ahead. I was going to say, and we're taught that as children in the school, it's, it's very high school. It's very elementary school right here, because

I'll just, I'll just put it in that perspective, because I don't want to give specific examples of how this happens racially, but I'll just put it in high school perspective that if there's a child who is constantly bullied and disrespected and all these things bad, and there was another kid who recognizes that, has compassion for and loves this kid, they're not going to show it because if you show that you will typically, this is what happens with people who are not as strong.

Oh, who feel like they can't overcome the societal pressure. They start acting like the bullies, even though they're, they're exactly the same as this kid who is being bullied, they try to act and be part of this other group that's inflicting the harm on this child. Am I making sense? Am I saying it

[00:51:15] Matt: right?

They don't get targeted themselves

[00:51:19] Fawn: so they don't get targeted. And I've seen this with different ethnic communities. Why is this ethnic community being mean to the black community? Because they're both getting the same injustices thrown at them. They're trying to be part of the quote unquote hip kids.

So they don't get targeted,

[00:51:40] Matt: I want to say that we've gotten, I don't know, tolerance tolerance is a great word and that's, that's I think lacking word, but it's lacking more and more.


[00:51:51] Fawn: know I hate that word tolerance because to me it means, oh, I'm going to tolerate you. That's like your parents saying to me, You have no idea how tolerant I am of you, like,

[00:52:04] Matt: right. And I realized it's a trigger word, but the, the

[00:52:08] Fawn: it's saying there's something wrong with me. I'm willing to tolerate your behavior.

I'm willing to tolerate you as a person. You'd

[00:52:15] Matt: rather me fight

[00:52:17] Fawn: with you?.

I would rather people chose another word and therefore like created a completely different sensation of feeling in our society than tolerance.

[00:52:30] Ruth: I, I hear what you're saying and I hear the frustration there, but I would also as far as the word tolerance, I feel like what it really comes down to is do we let society determine like the feelings that are associated with that? Or do we say like, this is what this word actually means and let's practice what it actually means.

[00:52:52] Fawn: I would not, I would like to have the word thrown out completely and have the word compassion or some other word.

I'm not an expert with language, but I would have the feeling of compassion be there instead and erase the word tolerance. Appreciation is what I would put in instead of tolerance. But I'm sorry, what were you trying to say, Matt? I got thrown off by tolerance.

[00:53:19] Matt: What I was trying to say is, um, you know, we've, we've gone from really trying to be a quote unquote tolerant society.

Yes. I know to this world of protecting me and mine and, you know, forget everybody else, which is wholly different, which is not tolerant or appreciative or sympathetic or, and all the rest of it. It's about, fear again, back to a fear-based back to a survival based, you know, worried that "my way of life will disappear."

[00:53:49] Ruth: I don't think that's anything new though, because if we look at some of the things that were, um, that were happening in the south and in some places still do happen in the south, especially like that mentality of protecting me and mine is, is part of what led to that. If we look at organizations like the KKK, which at least a couple of years ago was dying, um, then what you see is they don't want people who are , outside of the culture to come into the culture or to mingle with it because they are afraid of things changing.

They're afraid of losing their way of life. And so. It's not really anything new. Unfortunately

[00:54:30] Matt: it just feels like that went from being a fringe mentality to becoming more and more


[00:54:35] Ruth: I also feel like it's important to say something else just for, just for a minute. And that would be, even though like this, this toxic, um, this toxic version of protecting me in mine is definitely out there. And it's definitely something that has been around for like a really long time. There's also like a part of culture in which they're like, it's a natural kind of intrinsic tendency to look after, look after like our families and things like that.

But there has to be like a healthy way of doing that, where we also look at what is, what is good for

society as well.

[00:55:17] Matt: Ruth

something that I was going to bring up was our lack of role models and heroes. Cause I really feel like we're missing those people who stand outside of partisan views or who shine a light on, what's right, what's truth ,what's and all the rest of it.

Who do you see? You know, I'm having a hard time coming up with anybody I can point to as a hero in that kind of sense. Is there anybody that you can think of who's maybe on a national stage that I'm missing, who really is outside of it all and yet speaking truth on either side of the aisle,

[00:55:57] Ruth: um,

[00:56:01] Matt: And yeah, to me, that's the problem right there. Okay.

[00:56:06] Ruth: I'm just, I'm just thinking don't, don't get me started on conversation about role laws right now. Cause that's triggering.

[00:56:13] Fawn: Why isn't it explained because

[00:56:17] Ruth: it was one of the things I've been thinking about a lot more lately is the civil rights movement is the people who have like, made moves towards integration.

Like if you look at, for example, Jackie Robinson and the moves that he made, he was only able to make those moves by basically making himself a punching bag.

[00:56:35] Matt: Right.

[00:56:35] Ruth: And the only reason people even noticed that was because of the white people who were supporting him. So, yeah. And there's other people like that too.

And I feel like, I feel like that's something that needs to be transformed as far as perceptions and things, but, then if we kind of get past that point for me, I would say that the people who are actively having more of a positive stance are not going to necessarily be the people who are on the largest stages are going to be the people who are actually active in their communities.

Like for example, while a lot of churches aren't necessarily doing the best job right now, there are some that are, that are actually actively taking a stand and speaking up against things that are happening and that needs to be honored as well. but yeah, so those are my thoughts on that. Okay.

[00:57:31] Matt: Yeah. That's kind of where unfortunately my head was at, I wish I could like point at person a and say, yeah, that's the person, but no, I, I have a hard time. I've I've had a hard time trying to come up with who exactly.

And that's,

[00:57:45] Fawn: that's the problem right there, because that's part of, that's another example of the fragmentation,

we don't have friends, we don't have leaders. We don't have elders. It's like, no one is being listened to. No one is leading. There's no understanding happening. So, yeah. And we've you and I have talked about this for a long time, that what happened, what happened to role models and leaders?

Isn't that interesting. It's all. It feels like it's all broken down. And the question is, is it building back up? Are we all learning? So no one is leading because no one knows. Are we going into a completely new territory where no one is considered the head or no one is considered the one with the knowledge, the ability to lead.

'cause we're all trying to figure something out. Right.

[00:58:36] Matt: Or, you know, those people maybe who are in a position to, to lead are choosing not to, because, because of various and sundry, uncomfortable reasons, I don't know.

[00:58:48] Fawn: Let's talk about what you always say. Like the ones that end up in the front are the ones that are so crucified and now it's

whoever dares to speak, their character is destroyed. Right. And why is that?

[00:59:03] Matt: It's like we can't bear to have heroes anymore.

[00:59:05] Fawn: Is it? Or is it that we don't want anyone to be empowered because we want our society to remain defunct in a way,

[00:59:14] Matt: but again, we spiraled down, so I

[00:59:16] Fawn: leave it up to me.

I'll spiral it down for us again. I'm sorry. Our friendly world. Welcome to our friendly world. LALALA

Dear Ruth, tell me Ruth, tell me,

[00:59:30] Ruth: well,

I can't really think about this conversation without also thinking about the importance of my faith in it,

[00:59:38] Ruth: Like my faith in general and, And this is one of the reasons why I did not want to bring this up because I know that

it's not a faith center populace.


[00:59:49] Fawn: no, what this podcast is, is the art of friendship. And we talk about everything and you are a very good friend of mine

[00:59:57] Matt: and you are a woman of faith.

[00:59:59] Fawn: Yes. And you're not the first person that's been a person of faith that's been on our show. It's nothing to hide. That's the value of friendship for me; is to share what is a value in your life of value for you.

I want you to share that. That's what friendship is. If you don't share with me, I feel like there's a disconnect. I want to know.

[01:00:23] Ruth: Well, I mean, share movie you is one thing, but I also don't want to blow you up, like from your



[01:00:30] Fawn: our listeners are our friends, this is a friendly environment. Please share.

Everyone wants to know. That's what we're here for

[01:00:37] Matt: is to share.


[01:00:39] Fawn: I am glued to the edge of my yoga ball. (Ruth laughs).

[01:00:44] Ruth: So, I mean,

for example, one of the things, when we were talking about masking, I think for me, that's kind of, it was kind of, it also kind of has like a personal element because, I'm a former military brat as well. And so one of the things that, that comes as a result of that is the sense of which, because you're connected to the military, people are expecting like a certain, basically a certain type of person.

And so like masking is something that's kind of learned over that time and that expanse. And it's something that, because I entered that life so young, I think basically from birth, there's a sense in which masking was just like generally a part of that. As far as like racial disparities and things like that.

One of the other things that kind of comes up for me in that is like the living situation. Even with that, even with my, my father being in the military, like there was this difficulty. There were times when, and this is something that you and I have had a conversation about even more, like, all we had to eat was like oatmeal and raisins.

And as a result of that, I don't like either of those things or anything that reminds me of them. Then going forward and looking at my life, like even after that and the way that, that kind of played a role, I feel like it got me into a position where like, as I was kind of going through life and seeing certain things, I had this perspective that I gained through that where I learned basically to not react, which became even more difficult


I also saw the things that my brother was going through. There's this one instance in particular that really the whole murder of George Floyd kind of like picked up for me, which was thinking back to Mississippi, my brother and I driving one night off of the highway and all of a sudden we get stopped by police.

[01:02:43] Matt: Um,

that scared

[01:02:48] Ruth: me, And when they came to the car and got him out, like, I didn't know, especially like in that, in that area, if he was going to be okay if I was going to be okay, or anything else like that, like the situation was traumatic for me, even to the point where there's still a lot of that situation that I don't remember.


the only thing, like I can say that. Ultimately like, I, I do know that we ultimately ended up getting kind of out of it. Um, but other than that, there's, there's a lot that I don't remember. And then even thinking back years later, in Texas, my brother, we had actually been at like the car dealership about to get a new car.

And he leaves in his car to go and do something he's back a couple minutes later. And I'm like, what happened? Because. His t-shirt looks like it's, he's disheveled. He looks mad and like he's mad to the point of like crying and I'm like, okay, what happened here? And then he tells me what happened. And honestly it broke my heart, seeing that and hearing about the fact that.

They basically accused him of, being the one to steal a car, probably because they couldn't believe that he was a black person who could afford a car like that. Which, I mean, it was a second hand car, but I mean, yeah, it was a sports car, but at the same time, I feel like if they would've waited instead of like, cause what they ended up doing was throwing him down on the ground and putting it in handcuffs.

That enables like everyone passing by to be like, oh, there's another black man. What did he do? And reality is he hadn't done anything. They, they stopped him and threw him down and he hadn't done anything. And so going back to the situation, well with George Floyd, like all of those, all of those types of things were picked up for me.


one of

the other things that ultimately ended up happening because of that is me going into the spiral where on the one hand, there's a lot of like anger and people being really upset and everything else and saying things out of the fact that they were upset that were kind of incendiary, which I mean, People say all kinds of things when they're upset.

And then on the other side of that also seeing the church, not really saying anything, or if they're saying something it's not something that's helpful or positive. Like there was a pastor at that time, not one that I had, but there was a pastor who ended up talking about how, like, if your church is talking about diversity, like it's of the devil.

And all those things were really difficult for me, kind of struggling with that. And, also making me question my faith, making me question God, which up to this point, God was a very important part of my life, but then here's this thing that I don't know, where does God fit in that?

And so

Working through that for me, and talking to a couple of people that I still at that time did trust, ultimately for me, I came to a place where I was like, I either am going to continue to be in this really dark place, or I'm going to have to do something about it. I'm going to have to put this pain into some sort of a use.

And maybe in the process of that, I can also help to make things better for other people who feel like me, who may be in different churches and feel as though like, God doesn't relate to that. Or there may be like in communities where they feel as though people are not paying attention and they should be because that, that can be hurtful too.

And then just trying to navigate that. And ultimately that's what led me to start Voice of the Middle Ground, which incidentally is one of the reasons why it's kind of a little bit upsetting when people just assume that because, we're looking at an organization called Voice of the Middle Ground that we're all about, like not talking about things and compromising to that point, but I'm working on getting over that.

There's a lot of things at this conversation brings up for me, as far as talking about racial justice and diversity and things like that, like these are not just ideas that are out there for me. They're near things that are real and relevant

[01:07:16] Matt:

Thank you.

[01:07:19] Fawn: For me, I started talking and I get loud and I feel like the cartoon character saying something. And then I feel stupid because people get quiet when I talk. So I don't know if I sound like an

[01:07:31] Matt: idiot

[01:07:32] Fawn: if I'm speaking out of line, but all I can think is I'm just going to tell you,

my friends, how I feel and it may change, but that's where my perspective is at the moment. That's where my pain is at the moment. And at the risk of sounding ignorant, I'm still going to tell you how I


and I'm telling you how I feel, because I would appreciate. If you told me how you feel in response and therefore, perhaps I can see my ignorance in what I'm saying, or my perspective can be changed and I can look at something another way.

And I really appreciate these conversations. And I appreciate the patients knowing that I may sound like a fool and I'm just going to put myself out there. what the risk of A: sounding like a fool or seeming crazy or ignorant or angry. It's our friendly world. To get to our friendlier world,

we need to go through all these jumbled up emotions, go through our experiences. We need to share our stories. So Ruth I'm so thankful that even though you're a very private person and you're a very humble and shy person that you're speaking with us, I'm grateful to you.

[01:08:41] Matt: Absolutely.

[01:08:42] Ruth: Thank you.

[01:08:43] Fawn: And I want to know more Ruth.

[01:08:44] Matt: What do you want to know? I want to

[01:08:46] Fawn: know this is the one thing about podcasting. I'm not good at asking questions. I want to know everything about my dear


I am inspired by you. I love you.

You went from Texas, you saw what was happening. You


what happened with George Floyd and you went there, you went there

to help.

I think most of us would just be sitting there not knowing what to do. You take action with compassion love and wisdom.

You are a beautiful person. I would like to learn your ways.


You are a beautiful force

[01:09:22] Matt: in the world.

[01:09:22] Fawn: The way you reach out to me, when I'm distraught on the phone, the way you stay with me, the way you hold me, even through a text conversation is like none other except for Matt.


are a beautiful human being.

[01:09:37] Ruth: I am really trying not


cry right now,

[01:09:43] Fawn: that is the leadership we're looking at Matt right there.

[01:09:46] Matt: It's a Ruth.

Ooh, Ruth, is it.

[01:09:48] Fawn: So, Ruth, can you discuss with us what the voice of the middle ground is and what it means? The meaning of it? What you do? How do you bring people together, Ruth? How you get people to communicate?

How do you get people to come together to do wonderful things?

[01:10:09] Ruth: Well, one of the things that I feel like I have to start out with is one, when people think about middle ground, a lot of times, what they do think about is compromise, which can actually be something that's kind of played with minefields, especially when we think about the way that, people of color have often been asked to overlook this or to, to get past that without any real change actually taking place.

If we stop for a second and actually I was trying to think of like how I would explain that. And really what it takes me back to is one of the things that I did when I was in high school was I was on a bowling team. And so when you're bowling, you have the ball and like the arrows on the floor and everything else. Your job is to knock down those pins.

If you aim too much to the left, then the ball is going to go to the left. You aim too much to the right. The ball is going to go to the right. But the thing is to be aware, because one of the things that can be natural for people is to have a bias one way or another, or to have a tendency to go one way or another.

But the question isn't what's this way, or what's that way, the question is what's dead center. What is truth in this instance, in like, in these situations and what is it that's going to bring us to what we want, which is community healing. We want racial justice. These are the things that we want.

And so. For example, kind of taking it away from bowling and into, , a real life, scenario. One of the things that people are having difficulty with, is education. For example, there are some people who are like, we don't want anything to change whatsoever, and then there are other people who might be more extreme the other way.

The reality is that in order for us to move forward as a society and as a country together, we have to be aware of history, the truth of history. We have to be informed of even the things that we might not want to look at about our society and the history that's happened there.

And the same is true for a number of other issues, including policing, including approaches to mental health, like all of these other things. And so the goal, and really what we're doing is voice in the middle ground is we're asking the question, what is truth? What is it that is going to guide us to communities that are able to be resilient that are able to have that healing happen.

And then, especially when we look at things that have happened, in regard to the harms that have happened in society and working with community organizations and churches to bring those about,

[01:12:51] Fawn: Speaking of truth, how do you communicate truth? How do you express truth to other people that may not see it the way you do or don't want to see it it. How do you get people to come to a truth together? How do you have middle ground on that?

[01:13:06] Ruth: Well, one of the things that's important is actually starting with some of the language that's used, because if people are thinking about things in terms of like certain terminology, those are, they're not going to hear anything else that's said after that. But if we look at, okay, this is what's happening. And these are the problems that community is facing. For example, out here in the twin cities, there've been a lot of things that have happened over the history, but especially over the last couple of years.

And one of the big areas where there needs to be change is in the area of policing. A lot of the rhetoric that surrounds conversations like that is around either defunding or abolishing the police or wanting to not look at the situation at all? Well, one of the difficulties that comes when we have conversations about defunding our abolishing police is okay, how are we going to have any sort of order?

That's a question that comes to mind for some people. And also they think about people, police officers who have been killed in the line of duty because of certain rhetoric that's out there. And then on the other side of things, there are the things that the police officers have done. So there needs to be change.

How do we bring that about? What does it look like when we are trying to come together as a community to be, to work toward healing, how can we look at the situation as it is? And then also bringing about change for that without going into necessarily defunding or abolishing. What does it look like to re envision?

[01:14:44] Fawn: I think of the word change, and I'm thinking about how you said words are very important, how you choose certain words and wonder if change is something that disturbs people. Because most people don't like change. Like I like change. I like to change where we live all the time. I like to change the way I put things on the shelf in the kitchen.

It drives Matt crazy. He wants, yes. Yes

[01:15:10] Matt: it does. However you don't like to move. However, my profession, we literally see all the rules rewritten every 18 months.

[01:15:17] Fawn: Is that why you hate change though? Is because

[01:15:19] Matt: I've always, I've always, I think, respected change and I've always, been very mindful when change happens, but for me, it's

an event and for you it's Tuesday.

[01:15:36] Fawn: I just,

I just think that when people are, you know, we're talking about people being in survival mode, our society being in survival mode, when you bring up the word change, it could be one of those words that totally messes people up. They don't want it.

[01:15:53] Matt: Well, I have my routine, it could be miserable.

You're going to mix it up.

[01:15:58] Fawn: You could be miserable in a situation, but because it's familiar, you're more, more apt to stay in that course. But for me, I'm like, no, get the hell out of here. I'm just wondering if like maybe we should use a different word, aside from change, use a different word aside from tolerant.

You know, like I have to stop myself because like, in my profession we say the word shoot all the time. Like there's a messed up words in my industry, but like, I'm going on a shoot. I can't, I will, I will never say that again because our country's so violence and they're random shootings and shooting mass shootings all the time.

It feels like that. It feels like it is. So I'm going to take that out of the conversation much like Ruth, when Matt and I go shopping, we there's this one bread that's called so-and-so's killer bread. We'll never buy that bread. And everyone says, oh my God, it's so delicious. We're like, no, it has that word on it.

We're not going to partake in that. We're not, do you know what I mean? It's not good for you. You're embodying that or like, oh, this cake is to die for no, thank you. I will never eat that. You know what I'm saying?

[01:17:20] Ruth: Yeah.

[01:17:20] Fawn: Also traveling, like I was telling you, going from country to country and coming back to the United States, another thing that was a culture shock to me, or reminder was like, oh, our language is so violent.

Like, wow, just the words we use. And I can't think of anything right now. I'm kind of blanking out, but think about it, just pay attention to what's said you're like, wow, that's a violent word right there.

[01:17:48] Matt: We talked about it before the show bullet


[01:17:51] Fawn: Oh yeah. Yeah. So we had like, you know, we try to have an outline before our episodes, like to keep our thoughts straight.

Cause we go off on tangents all the time, but yeah. I'm like, can we not use the word bullet point? And you said speaking point, and I still had problems, you know, Ah, anyway, anyway, anyway, it was just very interesting. Like another word in my industry is slave. Like it's a device

[01:18:19] Matt: over

[01:18:19] Fawn: my industry and like the term kill the slave.

You have to turn this thing off means kill Y we

[01:18:25] Matt: have master and slave and, and we have master branches for source code. Now that's now changed, you know? And everybody's like, oh, well, you're just being politically correct. So we're changing. Things are getting changed and now we call it the main branch, but we still have devices slaved to other devices.

Like I

[01:18:44] Fawn: know, but, and in real estate too, like master bedroom instead of main bedroom or the bigger bedroom, anyway, I'm just saying like, there's so much to cover and all that.

Did I totally veer away from what Ruth was saying a little bit,

[01:19:03] Matt: you know? And that, that takes us, that can almost take us into George Orwell in 1984, because he talked about inside of this futuristic society, they were eliminating all words. So people would be unable to disagree with the government because the language wouldn't literally exist as they continue to destroy words, you couldn't even say the government was bad.

The government government has double ungood, weird, nevermind. Again, that's huge divergence. You should cut that out.

[01:19:33] Fawn: No, but it's true. And it's what's happening right now. It's happening in what the news that's coming to us about russia is they're not allowed to use certain words like at war with Ukraine.

And if you use those words, you get jailed, right. That's what we're told is happening. That's what's happening. Anyway. I just want to get back on Ruth's mission because I feel like I got us on such a negative tangent or an, or a negative. I just, it's just something I always want to talk about.

I still have to get it out of my system. I want to talk about the positive aspects and the leadership qualities that Ruth has.

[01:20:14] Matt: Yeah. What's, what's like a first step or a first six steps that we can, we should be mindful of and start maybe moving towards.

[01:20:24] Ruth: Um, I would say that a good first step is actually, being at a position where we're good with hearing other people's thoughts. because if we can't even hear those, then. Nothing's going, nothing's going to happen that's different. I'm trying not to use the word change.

[01:20:47] Fawn: How about transforms?

You know, Vanessa, Vanessa Brandley-Newton, who was on our show said she doesn't like the word change either. Transform. How about that?

[01:20:58] Matt: Well, certainly if you, if you don't expose yourself to other thoughts, how can you grow?

[01:21:04] Ruth: Yes, definitely. Something else that is important is actually everyone should be taking the time to educate themselves about the things that are happening in community.

One of the things that we talked about before Fawn, is how, there's not really as much of a drive To be focused on the needs of the community, because at the end of the day, people can just go, oh, but the federal government will take care of it instead of, okay, this is happening in my community.

How can I be a part of the solution? and that's definitely something that's been lost that, that we need to work on.

[01:21:38] Fawn: How, how are some ways that we can be a part of the solution? I mean, I know one is through a church, but what if people don't belong to a church, what are some ways and how does the church do it?

How do you bring people together?

[01:21:53] Ruth: A lot of churches do it very badly.

[01:21:56] Fawn: Why, why is that?

[01:21:57] Ruth: I would say that, a lot of churches do do very badly. I think back to, the prayer vigil that we had back in March, We were doing a lot of online advertisement and radio advertisement and stuff like that in order to get the word out about it.

Well, people did not like that. And, among other things, they ended up calling Voice of the Middle Groundground, basically a word that should not be mentioned on this show. Um,


[01:22:24] Fawn: why were they having that reaction? '

[01:22:27] Ruth: because I mean, at the end of the day, people are used to hearing about certain conversations in a certain light.

And if you're used to hearing it in a light, that is more divisive than if anything similar comes up, you're already kind of turned off. And so like a big thing that needs to happen is reeducation, because people need to see that 1: there are things that are happening that do need to actually be addressed.

And 2: that they can be a part of addressing it and it doesn't have to be addressed in a way that is divisive. Although even as I say that, I recognize that even addressing challenges in the first place for some people is going to be divisive.

[01:23:07] Matt: I think one of the things that, certainly would key me is, if somebody presents a challenge, I don't think is a challenge. Like I don't see that. So, are you wrong for even saying it? Are you crazy?

Are you stupid? Which is again how we just dismiss other people by using those two words crazy and stupid.

[01:23:23] Ruth: Yeah. But I mean, I, I feel like with the way, especially in the twin cities with the way that the things are being covered, that are happening out here, people don't really have an excuse of, oh, I didn't know that.

I didn't know. That was a problem. Like, people are dying and also other things are happening that really should not be.

[01:23:43] Fawn: What kinds of things are happening?

What are you seeing in your area,

in your community?

And I dare say, whatever happens in one community is actually happening in all communities. When something happens in one part of the world, it's affecting everyone else on the other side of the world.

[01:24:00] Ruth: This is something that's kind of personal to me what I'm about to bring up now, but like one of, one of the things for example, is the state of medicine in this country.

Like as far as the experience of people of color versus people who are not. I think back for me to an experience I had a couple of months ago, needing medical care, and basically waiting around in the emergency room. And then being told that they had no idea why I was feeling what I was feeling and having their results come back in the app, just as we're about to leave that are like:

yeah, there was something actually going on. They just didn't really care. And these are issues that are actually happening and people should be aware of them, especially since when it comes to medical care, that's one of the things that has been talked about, and that has received press for that.

If people are choosing not to see things as problems at this point, it's a choice.

[01:24:55] Fawn: Right, right. Where should we go from here?

[01:24:59] Matt: Well, I really liked, uh, me personally, what Ruth had to share as far as a good first step, which is, for goodness sake, you have two ears and one mouth listen, and go do some homework, some research on the other side of an issue

And get comfortable with discourse, get comfortable with being around people, maybe who disagree with you.

[01:25:19] Fawn: It's easy to say that. I

[01:25:21] Matt: know, I know I can sit on my soap box.

[01:25:23] Fawn: I mean,

It's easy to say that. Like, yeah, sure. I'll be open to an open dialogue talking to someone radically different from me, but it feels like nowadays the person can come back at you with violence.

So it's not as easy to just say, Hey, let's get together and speak on these opposing issues because chances are that we're all under so much stress that we're in the fight mode, that there is no conversation to be had. Even something as simple as a mask. Do you mind putting the mask over your nose?

Will create a fight. So how can we have a more healthy communication? How can we have better connections these days? Do you have any hope for us, for our society, Ruth? Do you see things getting better or are we still in the fight of

trying to voice what's going on?

[01:26:22] Ruth: I mean, I definitely think that things can get better, but at the same time, I think that things are going to get worse before they get better

[01:26:31] Fawn: now. Yeah.

[01:26:35] Ruth: Yeah, because I mean, ultimately what's happening is that people are being forced to look at the way that they naturally do things the way that they've been taught, that things work.

The, the core of that belief and being asked to change that. And anytime people are forced to basically look at themselves and to change in that way, there's internal conflict. And then that, at times turns into external conflict.

and so yeah, things will probably get worse before they get better.

The other thing is when we look at. Because we also just got relatively recently out of a position of lockdowns where people were forced to not be around each other, to not interact with people, like in general, like in the physical sense. And so a lot more of that communication and that connection was online.

The fact that we've had to withdraw, also put people in a position to where they were not necessarily able to empathize as well, because for that time, you're just focused on you. And there really is nothing else feeding into that. And , that's something that you've also brought up in previous conversations Fawn.


Yeah, things are definitely going to get worse before they get better, but they can actually get better. As trite as it sounds, it starts with people being willing to listen. And not just to listen, but also to take action in the area that's immediately around you. And that's why churches and community organizations are so important because they are organizations that are typically ingrained within the community.

And if those organizations start to actually actively look at what's happening around them, then they can actually be voices for change for community healing, for resilience. I think the problem with a lot of organizations,

that let me try to do that, is that they don't necessarily

start with the smallest unit and work bigger. And yet that's ultimately what we have to do because at the end of the day, society is individual people, individual people who are connecting to each other for better or for worse. As we connect to each other, we grow and as we grow, then that's how things are healed.

[01:28:49] Fawn: Beautifully said Ruth

[01:28:50] Ruth: If you focus on getting over it, then it's going to come back. It's going to be something that you end up struggling with again.

But if you work through it, that's how you come to a place of healing by working

through that.

[01:29:03] Fawn: Thank you. I think that's where I want to leave our conversation off for today is that thought that Ruth just conveyed of going through it. Let's get through. Let's go through, let's go through the stories. Let's go through all the emotions and the feelings and let's move through it.

Churchill. If you're going to Winston Churchill, he said; if you're going through,

[01:29:28] Matt: he said, if you're

going through hell, keep going.

So he was inferring. Don't stop. Don't live there, but yeah, certainly get over it. No, go through it. You're right.

[01:29:40] Fawn: Let's move through. Let's transform. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for being in our life. Thank you for joining us today. Thank you for entertaining me, gushing over you, even though you took off your headset. As I was trying to describe what a wonderful wise, beautiful woman you are and what a great valuable force you are in our community.

We love you so much. Ruth's contact information is in the show notes. You can reach out to her. Go to voice of the middle ground.com. Reach out to Ruth, reach out to us or here for you. Thank you so much, everyone for listening. Keep transforming.

We'll talk to you soon, just a few days, if not, before. You can email us and talk to us, that would be wonderful. Remember to go to our friendly world podcast.com. There's a workbook.on The Ikigai of Friendship for you to have as a gift.

Let us know how we can support you. We love you to talk to you soon. Be well, bye.