freedom or license

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”  MARK TWAIN

GOD, GUNS, COUNTRY – I am moved to waves of nausea when I see this political sign in my neighbor’s front yard.  It does not matter which political affiliation is being endorsed.  How on earth can anyone associate God with guns with country?  Truly, if there is a rational answer, I do not see it.

I overheard while entering the grocery store, one of three first responders shopping for lunch say, “I’m not wearing any damned mask.”  Okay, you could say he was exercising his freedom, his 1st Amendment rights.  But is that a right if it infringes on the rights of the other shoppers who want to walk through the aisles safely with a modicum of protection from covid-19?  That fireman’s declaration of his freedoms is more accurately defined as ‘license’, a motivation driven by ego and self-centeredness.  Not a good thing, not necessarily a bad thing, but let’s not confuse freedom and license.

Nationalism is part of our political conversation these days.  Again, good or bad?  I am proud of my country’s people, of the diversity which melds us into one great society advocating justice and equality for all.  I love my country when it humbly takes its place as one nation among a multitude of other nations recognizing its virtues along with its sins.  On the other hand, I shudder when I hear, “America, love it or leave it,”  “America first,” “my country, right or wrong.”  

……and I still get nauseated when I have to look at my neighbor’s political sign, “God, guns, country.”  I suppose there are some things that are not meant for me to understand.

FACE MASK

 

perseverance

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

“Did you grow today?”

Well, yeah, as much as a nearly 73 year old man can expect to grow.  Actually, I am shrinking.  I stand 5’10 whereas a few years ago I was 5’11.  I wear a size 34 waist that was last year a 38.  So, maybe I have stopped growing.

“Did you grow today?” 

Dangit, where is that question coming from?  I maneuvered through the masked and unmasked crowds at my grocery store, I read the news headlines without losing my religion, I stayed within my diet plan…what do you mean, did I grow today?

“Are you feeling uncomfortable and unsettled about today’s problems with racism and white supremacy?”

Of course, I am.  I am very concerned regarding our nation’s course, about the lies we have been feeding ourselves.  I don’t like being a ‘privileged white man’.

“Good, then you did grow today.  Now, what will you do about it?”

Oh Lord, just how much do you want me to grow?

“Back off, sonny.  I ask the questions, you come up with the answers.”

From today’s reading in REDLETTERCHRISTIANS.ORG:

These uncomfortable and unsettling conversations we are having about racism and white supremacy aren’t really on the same scale as the trials endured by marginalized communities, and yet they are necessary. If you have felt unsettled by the news cycle and the reactions, good! That is what we, especially those of us with privilege need to experience, not just for endurance sake, but for the sake of our marginalized human family. 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” JAMES 1:2-4

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lemonade, anyone?

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

No, I am not going to bend your ears about my lemon trees in the back yard, although they are indeed worthy of mention.  And I am not going to share my life-long dream of having a lemonade stand out front by the highway.  I would need a county license, would have to file the income with the IRS, and would see an increase in my house insurance because of the added liability.  All for 25 cents a cup – I don’t think so.

What I will do is share the wisdom of Grandpa advising me how to respond to life when life was nothing but a basket of lemons.  “Make lemonade,” he said.  Grandpa loved homemade lemonade on a hot, summer afternoon after a hard morning’s work in the potato fields.

Richard Rohr @ cac.org would have loved my Grandpa.  A follower of the Franciscan order, Richard writes daily in his blog concerning issues that every earthly human faces in everyday life.  Traditional Christian theology promoting ‘salvation’ takes a back seat to sitting at the Jesus table experiencing all of life with all its complexities and heartaches.  At this table, where there is a seat for everyone, communing with society’s oppressed and downtrodden is more relevant to the faith walk than ascending the heaven-bound ladder of religion’s ‘thou shalt and thou shalt not.’

I think Richard probably loves lemonade too.  He talks about the covid-19 dilemma forcing us to self-quarantine, isolate socially and wear masks.  It can be a debilitating event in our lives or it can be an opportunity to focus on our families and loved ones at home getting to know them more intimately and lovingly.  We are learning to get by with less expensive amusement from outside sources and staying within the beauty, safety, and comfort of our home environment.  Virtual communication with family and friends via internet connections is not the bogeyman we all feared.  Conducting one’s job responsibilities from the home computer has distinct advantages (who needs an elaborate wardrobe to go to work or a shiny car to commute?)

And as we address the world’s other potentially debilitating problems….MAKE LEMONADE.  The lemons being harvested from a corrupt and dysfunctional political system have brought civics to our supper tables nationwide.  Remember civics class in high school?  Yes, we talked about the rights and duties of citizenship.  We remembered that many people living under authoritarian or dictatorial governments don’t have civics class because they don’t have rights.  Ahhh, another glass of lemonade, please?

Or consider the pot of racism simmering on the back burner for decades which is now being addressed honestly and openly.  Those sour fruits from the white supremacist factions of our society have surfaced under an accommodating Administration forcing an uncomfortable self-inventory – am I a racist?  Many of us before this revelation would have summarily replied, “Hell no, I have a bunch of friends who are Negro.”  More lemonade, maybe, with a large twist of humility?

And while we’re on a roll, let’s look at our country’s rampant, materialistic economy which is enriching a handful of corporate pockets while an overwhelming majority of our population lives pay check to pay check.  Do you really believe the wealthy are scrimping and saving like most of us are during this virus-forced economic downturn?  No, they continue to turn a profit hand over fist.  Perhaps this time of pandemic is the time we take stock of our materialistic excesses and embrace simplicity as a better way for us and for our earth.  Our society has refused to do this voluntarily, but perhaps now with a simpler lifestyle forced upon us, we will realize it is not the end of the world.

There it is in a nutshell – my love for lemonade.  We can continue to lament the ‘way things used to be’ or we can anticipate with excitement and expectation a new way which tells us the earth is overflowing with bounty and goodness and lots of lemons.

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“our nation, our heritage, our culture”

Much has been said concerning the verbal exchanges between Tucker Carlson and Senator Tammy Duckworth.  Carlson’s rhetoric was inflammatory, the Senator’s response was appropriate, and we must believe that the Fox News host’s dialog was intentionally directed to a specific element of the American population.

In the remaining few minutes of his segment on Duckworth, he called her a “fraud” and “a callous hack.” Then he brought up Ilhan Omar, a favorite target, and said those who like the U.S. “have every right to fight to preserve our nation and our heritage and our culture” from “vandals like Tammy Duckworth and Ilhan Omar.”

NYMag.com/intellingencer

What is the heritage and culture of which he is speaking and why is he labeling Tammy Duckworth and Ilhan Omar as “vandals?”  Perhaps, to better understand we need to look at his audience.  Are they racially diverse and indicative of the demographic changes happening in America?  Are they part of America’s minorities who justifiably question the country’s commitment to freedom and equality for all?

Probably not.  The Tucker Carlson audience wants to maintain the privilege and exclusionary practices of an America which has seen nearly 250 years of systemic covert and more recently overt racism and oppression of the minority population.  And that is understandable – why should white America want to give up the privileges they have enjoyed for centuries?

But, that objective is not moral nor is it sustainable in a civil society.  According to the demographic gurus, Caucasian America will be the minority by mid-century.  Resistance to change and transformation is the sign of a decaying society.  Protecting America from “vandals” like Tammy Duckworth and Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is akin to 1930s Germany protecting its population from the Jewish threat.

The threat does not come from the presence of minorities, religious creeds, nationalities, and varying lifestyle choices.  It comes from those who fear change and transformation, those who are willing to demean and demonize others who do not fit into a narrow paradigm based on privilege and exclusion.

god bless america

 

Kaepernick’s MOUNTAIN

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

What’s the mountain you are willing to defend with life, limb and honor?  How about me?  I’ve been at the base of numerous mountains, defended only a few.  With each one, hopefully wisdom played a role, but more importantly I would like to cite courage as the determining factor in my choices.

I am not a sports participant, never have been.  Doesn’t mean I cannot follow football or baseball enthusiastically or knowledgeably.  Especially enjoyable are the personalities who have made sports their life-time endeavors and discovered lucrative careers playing a game for millions upon millions of dollars.

Patrick Mahomes just signed a contract with the KC Chiefs for a 10 year period for 450 million dollars.  Amazing!!  Do I begrudge him and the money?  Absolutely not.  He has discovered his niche in life and has learned early how to capitalize.  If corporate America (yes, professional football is just another corporate conglomerate) is willing to belly up to the table with that much moolah, then more power to Patrick.

However, I do not idolize money.  The less I have, the more content and peaceful I feel.  What impresses me is not the money these guys earn, but  the mountains they are willing to defend for reasons of social justice and moral compass.  Colin Kaepernick is one such man.

Exiled from professional football in 2016 for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, Kaepernick was the focus of public scorn from a broad spectrum of political and professional celebrities for his “unpatriotic” behavior.  Most notably was the involvement of the WH under the tweeting thumb of a well-documented draft-dodger during the Vietnam era.

Colin Kaepernick has signed a deal with the Walt Disney Company to be featured in a documentary series produced by ESPN Films ‘telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social justice and the quest for equality.’  

His deal will extend across all Disney platforms including Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Hulu, Pixar and The Undefeated.  “I am excited to announce the historic partnership with Disney across all platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers, and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives,”  Kaepernick said in a statement.

The moral of this story – carefully choose your mountain to defend and then courageously do it never looking back.  Great men will attack, small men will tweet, but those who matter will support your journey.

Disney – Kaepernick sign deal

colin kaepernick

life-sustaining society

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

“If there is to be a livable world for those who come after us, it will be because we have managed to make the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-Sustaining Society. . . . While the agricultural revolution took centuries and the Industrial revolution took generations, (the Great Turning) has to happen within a matter of years. It also has to be conscious—involving not only the political economy, but the habits, values and understandings that foster it.” —Joanna Macy – Pace e Bene

Can we do that?  We, who have been the most voracious consumers of this earth’s resources, who have built an empire on the backs of slave and immigrant labor, who have tilted the political process in favor of the corporate elite, who have widened the gulf between the prosperous and the poor, who have thumbed our noses at environmental consciousness….can we do that?  Not over the course of centuries or generations, but within a few years we must make our decisions.  Can we build a life-sustaining society which honors the entirety of creation?beard-beggar-face-35015

 

Reparations

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reparations – Ta-Nehisi Coates

“What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. . . . Reparations would mean a revolution of American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.”

—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations

Stunning words from Mr. Coates!  Finally, white power and white privilege accustomed to the old, distinctly American adage “money talks” is challenged to the crux of what African-Americans want.  They don’t want handouts, payoffs, hush money, or bribes.  They want white America to do a conscience check and transform the inner soul that makes us racist and bigoted.  What a challenge!  Can we do it?

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the sick & homeless – WWJD

YES MAGAZINE

This referenced article in YES MAGAZINE details how immigrants to our southern border are “disinfected” to prevent the spread of vermin and disease.  I shudder remembering what I have read about the arrival of Jews to the concentration camps and the subsequent disinfecting process.

The article describes the methods used in these ‘holding camps’, the pain, humiliation,  and suffering being caused.  But, the nagging question which bothers me and which we all need to answer is this: are they less valuable, are they less human, are they less loved simply because they are not American, because they are refugees seeking asylum and a better life for themselves and their families?  What if the asylum seeker was me and the family huddling around me was my family?

Initially when this current governmental regime assumed power, it was a fight against drug dealers, thugs and rapists crossing the border that we were warned against.  Today it is the same people approaching our border but, with a different MO.  They are, whether intentionally or unintentionally, spreading covid-19 and other diseases in our midst.  They are causing a health crisis.  Incredibly, listening to government authorities, we should believe that they will sell drugs to our kids, steal our possessions, rape our women and boys, and now infect us with a deadly virus.

Really?  Seems to me that we, as a leaderless nation, have done a fine job of creating our own moral and health crisis – don’t need any help from immigrants.  Those who refuse to mask up, refuse to practice social distancing, refuse to see this pandemic as the killer which it is and then ridicule and threaten others who take covid-19 seriously…..those others are the prevailing threat about which we need to worry.

How much are we willing to believe from a government which has lied repeatedly over the course of history?  How long must America suffer the delusional mindset that because of race, nationality, creed, or alliances, it is superior to the rest of mankind who share this earth under a merciful and gracious Higher Power?  How long?

diversity

JUNETEENTH

White folks probably don’t know the significance of Juneteenth, also called FREEDOM DAY, JUBILEE DAY, CEL-LIBERATION DAY, EMANCIPATION DAY.  Why should they?  How many of us knew about Cinco de Mayo  before Taco Bell came to the USA?  We, as a race, are extremely culture insensitive.

JUNETEENTH commemorates a day important in the history of African-Americans.   On June19th, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation which had been issued in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln was read to enslaved African-Americans in Texas by Gordan Granger, a Union general of the Civil War.  Texas was home to more than 250,00 enslaved blacks.

“This year’s celebration takes place during a moment of national crisis. There is a collective sense of frustration and devastation as we confront the entrenchment of racism and oppression in our systems of government, education, housing, voting, labor, health care and justice that endures more than a century after the last remaining enslaved Black Americans were freed.” splcenter.org

Millions of white Americans will join hands and link arms and connect spiritually with our brothers and sisters of color in solidarity.  We would like to believe that we do not notice skin color.  That is untrue.  We do see the differences, but what we do in our hearts with those differences determines who we will be as a nation.  Our country’s future is at a crossroads with an issue which should have been conquered with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Today, Juneteenth, let’s join in this celebration of freedom.  Tomorrow, June 20th, let’s flood social media, let’s counter any gatherings of disruptive citizens who want to hold on to racist agendas with our own agenda of peace and brotherhood founded upon the words so proudly exclaimed in our Declaration Of Independence…..“all men are created equal.”

Tulsa, Oklahoma, will be the scene of political forces on June 20th which have given a national voice to the hatred and violence of white nationalism masquerading as conservative values in both politics and religion.  We, proponents of nonviolence in actions of social justice, also have a voice which needs to be heard.  Let those voices be ringing loud and clear as we envision a nation free of racial injustice and intolerance.

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TULSA RACE RIOTS

 

Christian blinders

St. Francis of Assisi was raised by his wealthy father in luxury and social privilege.  He loved to party with his young friends and remained isolated from the poverty which was the norm for most of society during the Middle Ages.  His transformation occurred while riding away on horseback to join the Crusades, a worthy undertaking for a man desiring to prove himself to his family and friends back home.

Lepers were social outcasts who were feared, according to stories about Francis, greatly by the young man.  Approaching a leper along the highway, he turned his horse and rode quickly the other direction not wanting to see or engage this man who was rejected by society.  However, whether by conscience or whether by God, Francis could not remove the image of the diseased man from his mind, decided to turn around, determined to face this fear and spent time with the leper thus conquering his unfounded prejudice.

St. Francis, Jesus of Nazareth, Clare of Assisi, and documented mystics throughout history laid the foundations for a Christian philosophy which transcends popular belief that sin is the inherent nature of man and that ‘salvation’ is the goal of faith.  Contrary to this contemporary Christian doctrine is the concept that mankind is a community of brothers and sisters who, in loving co-existence with the entirety of Creation, are designed to serve one another in peace and fellowship, engaging those at the bottom of the social ladder in service rather than aspiring to climb the ladder to a promised salvation in a far-away heavenly home thereby avoiding the ‘lepers’ of modern society, the disenfranchised.

In years past, blinders were put upon work horses to avoid distractions in the field or along the road.  It seems that some of today’s Christians voluntarily put on blinders to avoid the dark side of today’s world, to avoid the distractions of intolerance, racism, hatred, white nationalism, homophobia, Islamophobia, homelessness, poverty.

Garth Brooks famously sang “Friends in Low Places” back in 1990.  Could we (and I include myself at the top of this list) search the lowly places for those who have been cast by the wayside, commune with them, walk the talk with them, look beyond that which makes them different from us and somehow connect in solidarity with the One who makes us one humanity?

Perhaps we could get down into the nitty-gritty of humanity, love those whom St. Francis and Clare of Assisi loved, stand shoulder to shoulder with the ones Jesus addressed in the Beatitudes as “blessed”….perhaps then we could shun those Christian blinders (human and doctrinal) which prevent us from seeing the world as it is.

Maybe we need to look in the ‘low places’ rather than the heavens for Jesus?

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