indifference

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

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

Speaking to a friend today, she shared her recent experience when her son and grandchildren came to visit.  Their conversation turned to the Holocaust.  Her 15 year-old grandson drew a blank stare of unknowing.  Looking to her son, my friend asked,  “He does know about the Holocaust, doesn’t he?”

“No,” replied the son, “they don’t teach it in school.”

They don’t teach it in school!  Over 6 million people were systematically murdered in one of humanity’s most wretched schemes of genocide less than a century ago….and they don’t teach it in schools.  Survivors have related their tales of horror at the hands of Nazi Germany, SCHINDLER’S LIST was an epic fact-based movie portraying the horror at the hands of Nazi Germany,  Elie Wiesel, several years after his release from Buchenwald, wrote in detail the horror at the hands of Nazi Germany…and they don’t teach it in schools.

Today I think about what I would do if the same thing happened in America.  Would I have the courage to stand up and defend a persecuted, demonized, scapegoated man with an odd last name, a Muslim woman wearing a niqab, a black man in dread locks, or a Hasidic Jew?  Of course, I would.

Oh, by the way, what if my country has embraced white nationalism and has become a bustling hub of neo-Nazism?  What’s the answer now?  “Well, that certainly will not happen,” I reassure myself.

Really?  Do we think that in Germany, in the early 1930s, the gentle, God-fearing, Lutheran citizens anticipated Hitler and a Nazi Germany with goose-stepping soldiers wearing swastikas on their arms would parade the streets, that Jews would be rounded up and put into death camps only a decade later?  Can we afford to be that naive?

And the question again is whether I would risk my life and liberty to defend someone less white than me, less privileged than me, someone who is Jewish, Muslim, or any of the others on the target list of white nationalists and white supremacists?   Or will I stand by the railroads and watch cattle cars loaded with humans pass by on the way to the ‘final solution’ and turn the other way?

  1. We must remember and teach to our children the sad episodes of human depravity including American slavery, the relocation of Native Americans, the unwillingness to aid the Jews in WWII, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and the horrors of the Holocaust.
  2.  We must confront the cowardice of white supremacy and the neo-Nazi movement in America.
  3.  We must remember the words of Elie Wiesel:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

The late Congressman John Lewis reflected in his remarks upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama:

“never get lost in a sea of despair…have this abiding faith that there are things that are so right, so good, so necessary that you are willing to die for…”

What mountain am I willing to defend?  What things so good, so right and so necessary am I willing to die for?

alone calm faith light
Photo by Garon Piceli on Pexels.com

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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“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

 

kumbaya

So all you white folks think another round of ‘kumbaya’ sitting by the campfires is going to fix this problem?  Really?

Black Americans, Latino Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, gay Americans, Muslim Americans, immigrant Americans, poor Americans, Native Americans, disenfranchised throw-away Americans, almost all those who have not been living in ‘privileged’ white America would probably disagree.

Racism, bigotry, intolerance, hatred will not disappear with legislative work, more laws and Constitutional Amendments, additional streets named after black people, Pride parades on our streets, and conciliatory memes on social media.  Protesters of differing skin tone marching with linked arms carrying meaningful signs are a start, but when America finally reckons with the malignancy which has been festering in its heart, only then can healing begin.  It begins when each of us looks deep into the heart which directs our lives, takes an inventory, does a housecleaning, and strives to treat others the way he wants to be treated.  Very simple Bible School stuff – the Golden Rule.

That healing will see communities fostering tolerance and inclusiveness, churches welcoming all neighbors, job and educational opportunities available to all, local governments working for every citizen, each man caring about the welfare of his fellow man.

There are those, mostly unaffected by racism or hatred, who want to maintain things as they have been for many generations.  There are those who pray every day for equality and opportunity for all.  There are those who don’t really care.  And, of course, there are those sitting around the campfire singing kumbaya thinking, “what do we have to do to placate the groups who have been abused?  What do we have to give them?”

It can’t continue this way.  America has to fix its heart problem.

American preachers, if they claim Christianity, must begin to preach what the Gospels teach – love and brotherhood, the community of mankind, the ministry of Jesus.  If the preacher-man’s message is not one of inclusiveness, love and service to all of Creation, if he is spreading the gospel of merited affluence, the gospel of exclusive white rights to eternity, then that preacher is spewing lies from his pulpit.

American governments – national, state, and local – must abide by the Constitutions and laws which they have sworn to uphold. Those laws promise equal justice and equal rights to every American.  No man is more equal or more privileged than another.  No man is less protected or less entitled.  Sadly, the truth of our American justice system begs to differ.  We must change that.

American social-media (ah yes, the media screens) must be held accountable, without encouraging censorship, for the ideas, thoughts, and words that are allowed for public consumption.  Is it too difficult to believe that the colonial framers had never imagined the vicious vitriol and lies that would someday claim protection under the 1st Amendment?  We must become responsible for self-policing what we allow into our heads and what we accept as truth.

American teachers, dedicated to a difficult and thankless job, must be the most open-minded of all of us – they are expanding our children’s minds to the world of new ideas and concepts.  Our willingness to fund excellence in education says much about who we want to be as a society.

American parents, you are wonderful, but from whom did I learn the n-word?  When did I begin to believe that 12 year-old me was somehow superior to the migrant laborers who worked the fields in the summer?  Who taught me the words to ridicule the lone Jewish boy in my school? Parents, your children are all ears and eyes.  They are listening and watching and then replicating.  What do you truly want them to learn from you?  Are your prejudices and fears being passed on to the next generation?

HEART WORK.  We all have a lot of heart work to do.  Are you willing?  Am I?  Our country is depending on all of us getting this right.  No more mushy kumbaya moments.

LOVE

 

 

 

“do something”

“To repeat, if God operates as me, God operates as thee too, and the playing field is utterly leveled forever. Like Jesus, Francis, Clare, and many other humble mystics, we then rush down instead of up. In the act of letting go and choosing to become servants, community can at last be possible. The illusory state of privilege just gets in the way of neighboring and basic human friendship.” CAC.ORGCANDLE

Father Richard, in this daily meditation, begins by discussing his upbringing within the community of white privilege, the favoritism shown to whites, the status of higher education, numerous challenges which whites do not endure and which non-whites face on a daily basis.  It is truly a different world for those of us who walk the earth in this life as Caucasian.

When I realized and accepted within my heart the truth of “Namaste, I bow to the divine in you,” the Spirit within would no longer cover my inbred white privilege.  It refused to entertain all the excuses I held for my bias and prejudices.  It forced me to look upon my brothers and sisters whom God created in various shades and hues as beings loved just as much by the Creator as me.  I no longer had an excuse to trivialize the plight of people of color.  Our “white” world via politics and extremist religions has demeaned, ostracized, brutalized, and oppressed those children of God and it is my challenge as a white man to make restitution.

In order to do so, Father Richard exhorts me to take the route of ancient mystics who, rather than aspiring to rise toward a perceived heavenly God, focused  downward and joined the suffering and oppressed masses living on the edge of survival in an ungodly world.  That is where true obedience will be found, where salvation shall be experienced, and ultimately where the living Jesus dwells.

Most of my life has been spent anticipating the great white mansions in the far reaches of the Universe where God and Jesus sit side by side on their thrones waiting for me to arrive for my final judgement.  (Incidentally, both of them in my past have been “white boys”.)  I no longer wait for that occurrence because the truth as revealed to me, the GOD OF MY UNDERSTANDING, is right here, right now living in the hearts of all humanity regardless of race, religion, nationality or creed.  I must now choose on a daily basis whether to commune with God and his indwelling truth or return to a denial of that truth.  It’s very simple theology; it is awe-inspiring and breath-taking.

The path which I walk has been tortuous and twisted.  I have endured the full spectrum of faith experiences from belief in a God who was vindictive and vengeful, to a God who was aloof and unapproachable, to an errant acceptance of atheism, to the revealing grace experienced in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Even during my period of strident atheism, I came to realize that my denial of God’s existence only  fortified that his existence was real; otherwise, why would I expend so much energy denying him.  If God is dead, then I should probably take up knitting or crocheting doilies instead of rallying with the oppressed masses or with a suffering alcoholic in forging a better world.  If God is dead, then I would need to depend on the “goodness” of mankind to save us from physical and spiritual destruction.  I can’t do that because goodness is not inherent, it is derived from a Source.

Matthew West in a very powerful song questioned a God who would allow all the suffering endured by mankind, “God, why don’t you do something?”  The reply from his Lord was, “I did, I created you.”  I was created to do something, but it all happens through and by the grace and direction of a Higher Power.smiley 3