The year is 2018, but in many ways we, as a nation, have seemingly stepped backwards in time in terms of race relations and the way races view each other. It is an ugly but unfortunate truth. The misgivings and distrust between the races that my parents spoke of has begun to be resurrected in ways that I thought could never return in our country. These tensions have spilled over into violence in the streets, and the vile nature of racism and division has even infected our politics and filled the airwaves in ways that are impossible to escape.
It is in this setting and in this time that I happen to be writing a book about diversity and Air Force pilot training. It’s tempting to wish I had been able to write the book at an earlier, seemingly more favorable time. Many of the issues that will be addressed in this book are not new to the Air Force and its history, just as division and misgivings among the races are not new. In many ways, sentiments about the races were never eliminated but pushed just under the surface, and never dealt with or healed. This allowed them to be easily revived and even fanned into a flame at times when the right winds were blown over them.
This book will present issues that are not easy for the Air Force or its leadership to deal with, not for the purpose of stirring up division within its ranks, but to bring healing and solutions. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge is broken. Further, you can’t heal internal wounds unless you make an incision and clean out all the elements inside that can continue to harm. Incisions hurt but they do heal. Internal wounds left festering only spread, or just lie sensitively and indefinitely just below the surface, waiting to burst into something very unpleasant.
I felt it necessary to start this book off with a prayer for the Air Force’s senior leaders. Though many will benefit from this book, the leaders are the intended audience. My prayer is based on 1 Timothy 2:1-3 and Acts 17:26:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. (1 Tim 2:1-3)
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings. (Acts 17:26 NKJV)
Dear Heavenly Father, I lift up the civilian and military leadership of the Air Force to you. I pray that You give them the wisdom to lead our Air Force in the midst of daunting and challenging times. Lord, it is the express intention of this book to bring to the surface issues that can only be addressed at the highest leadership levels of the Air Force. I pray that even if I don’t communicate the issues perfectly, or if I communicate them in a way that is contrary to the way that people might like to hear them, that You will help them to press past the letters on the page and to receive the intent of my heart and the genuine sincerity with which I wrote them. Grant our Air Force leaders a grace for this season, this key time period in the Air Force’s history. Give them the insight and the courage to engage the tough issues outlined in this book. Give them the grace to preside over this great body of men and women in a way that makes the Air Force even stronger and more powerful—indeed helping it to remain the greatest flying force on Earth. Amen.
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