[Prefatory note: I wrote the majority of this post last Friday, August 11th, before the grievous events in Charlottesville, VA, took place. My original aim was that it would be a resource for anyone who, like me, has much need to grow and who desires to listen, repent, and learn to love. May it serve this aim all the more.]
The Nobel Prize-winning economist George Stigler once lamented how a highly regarded expert in one field (e.g., in chemistry or literature) can presume to speak with expertise in another field (e.g., in public policy or history). Stigler wryly criticized some of his fellow Nobel prize winners for the ease with which they speak to the public:
“They issue stern ultimata to the public on almost a monthly basis, and sometimes on no other basis.”
Not surprisingly, expertise in one field in no way qualifies as expertise in another.
I don’t consider myself an expert in any field, really. As is so often the case, the more one pursues expertise in a given field, the more one becomes painfully aware of how little they actually know: they (rightly) compare themselves to seasoned leaders in their field and realize that they themselves are but children. That was my own experience as a PhD student, and I’m fairly certain I wasn’t alone.
Without expertise or experience
Let me say the obvious: I am not anything remotely approaching an expert on the extremely important, intricate, and intimate matter of race and racism. But even beyond (and prior to) that, I do not have the experience (nor ancestry) to be a voice at the table. But I can–indeed, need to–listen and learn, and I can begin to do so by at least two vital means: (1) relationships (which may require relocating); and (2) reading.
As for the latter, here’s my journey so far: