Can We Put A “Hold” On Stupid For Awhile? Maybe Forever?

Today’s Huffington Post reports that someone in Austin Texas is putting stickers on doors saying “White People Only”. A Black man was found hanging in a tree. In New York City yesterday, a court refused to release information about Grand Jury deliberations on a police officer who choked a (Black!) man to death and was not charged with anything… People can’t even figure out why and the justice system won’t give them any reason? Isn’t this America? A student (guess what color?) was beaten bloody the other day by police in Virginia.

Racism not only continues to raise its ugly head, but the people doing these things no longer care who knows it. Hopefully the man hung in a tree committed suicide, but that’s hardly helpful. I know people wish I would stop harping about it, but can our society stop giving me things to harp about?

Lest you think I only care about one group of people in our country… Oh, yes, ISIS blew up a bunch of people in massive suicide bombings. And Netanyahu won an election by coming out harder against Palestinians. And the list goes on…It’s the same thing — people talking about, hating, and killing people they don’t know, simply because they are different (or even just perceived as being different)!  Hating people because they are gay, or straight or bi — or because we think they are — is just as wasteful of our time. Hating women or the poor — or poor women — is just as stupid — a waste of our time, our energy, and our loved ones. It’s all the same stuff with different names.

Did no one get the memo that we’re supposed to care for each other, rather than kill each other, threaten to kill each other, and generally hate each other?

In this country, the racism continues to sadden, anger and enrage me. I worry for my friends. It is soooo draining. Loving each other, building community, sharing resources with each other so that people have what they need, seeing each other as one species, rather than “us” and “them” or “me” and “everyone else”, are so much on everything. Maybe we could spend our energy curing cancer if we weren’t spending so much time hating other.  Maybe we could just have each other over for dinner and have a few treasured moments if we weren’t afraid of those we hate. Maybe we could have money for education if we weren’t spending it on bullets, Maybe we could save money left-and-right if we didn’t have to have people protecting “us” from “them”.

Does anyone know how we got to this place? Does anyone know how to fix it? Is this fun for somebody? If so, how and why? Don’t people have families that they could spend time with? Friends who are human, but different than them in some way? Wouldn’t they like to be home with them, feeling safe and loved?

There’s an old Stevie Wonder song called “Love’s in need of love today” ( I like Joan Osborne’s version of it best) that says “hate’s going around, breaking many hearts” It’s one of those days/months/periods in our history where that is true. The fact that I can give five or six examples in one week proves it’s so. On the other hand, I wouldn’t know about the song or the singer if I wasn’t open to diversity.

So, today, be nice to the concept of love by making it visible and proving it’s real. Exercise your right to open up your hearts, give somebody a hug, tell your children you love them, take care of other people’s children or their elderly, respect people, be open to them, and listen to them. In short, remind people that love works. Care for each other. Be cared for by another. Share food and fellowship with each other, laugh together, cry together, be silent with each other.

I want to wake up tomorrow and see stickers that say “everyone’s welcome here”. I want to see no one hanging from a tree, or being beaten up or threatened, or abused just because they are “different” in some way. I want to wake up tomorrow with the Israelis and Palestinians wanting to work together and actually doing it, to create a two-state solution. I want the news to say that no one thought their politics or their religion or their gender was so important they killed for it. I want no one to blow up anybody for a while, maybe forever. There are going to be cynics who will say, “It’ll never happen” or “it can’t happen as soon as tomorrow”. I don’t believe it. I’m done believing in hate’s power. I’m just done with it. If we can have a war overnight, we can have peace overnight. If we can have killings in the middle of the night, we can have sleep in the middle of the night. If we can be mean and snide to each other via the media, we can choose to be otherwise, and act on it.

So think about what would happen if Israel and Palestine worked out a solution and no one died over there. Imagine what it would be like if no cop beat up another person for 24 hours. Picture no one starting a new war, and no one fighting any old wars tomorrow.  Picture not needing to worry about walking through a certain section of town because you know you’ve treated them well and they all have enough food and water and clothing and shelter and know that they are loved by somebody.  Think about going to the airport and not needing to go through the TSA checkout, because there is no need for a war on terror. This is what love can do.

If, when you picture those things, you feel all warm and happy, know that’s how you’ll feel when you make it a reality. This hate thing is just so exhausting, let’s do something else.

I’m tired of being tired, and sad, and angry, and dumbstruck by the the events of the world.

So let’s try for ….Peace,

John

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The Lessons of History?

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” — George Santayana.

“Head-desk” — a UCC Minister

It’s the 50th anniversary of the March in Selma, Alabama, a turning point in American history in which African-Americans made strides toward voting rights and civil rights. The history of the day is described poignantly in the movies “Selma” which came out in the past few months.

It is the story of hard hearts and closed minds of Southern Whites and the resulting hard and hurting hearts of Southern Blacks, the pull toward violence in the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) overtaken by the non-violent love, dignity and respect for persons given by Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Confrerence (SCLC) and King”s leadership.

In the same era as The March on Selma was happening, White Southerners wouldn’t let what were then called  “Negroes” or “Coloreds” the right to sit down in the same restaurants and coffee shops,  From the sit-ins that were a response to the coffee houses and the March came two of the most united times as a people and two of the proudest moments in American history.

In remembrance of these significant events, three stories have come to the fore:

1) The party which now controls Congress has made a point of refusing to send its leaders to the remembrance.

2) Oklahoma Senator Joseph Silk has stated that LGBT people “don’t have the right to be served in every store”.

3) The Ferguson, MO mayor whose city was besieged this past summer, has seen a report by the Department of Justice that says there were widespread abuses and policies which created the situation and resulting problems says that even though “The report stated there was probable cause to believe the police and court routinely violate people’s civil rights. But, Knowles said, “that’s not proof.” He added that “there is probably another side to all of these stories.”

Is anyone seeing a pattern of absurdity here?

To give some perspective here, this would be like this happening:

On the week prior to July 4, 2016,  as the Prince Harry and Kate Upton are preparing to come to America to celebrate American Democracy and Independence and what it has mean to the world,

Members of the Labour Party state in a press conference that they would not send a letter of congratulations to the US on the Fourth of July because they didn’t want to stir up hard feelings. I don’t know if they normally would, but going on record as saying they wouldn’t is a statement in itself.

Following this, A member of Parliament states that Americans are not welcome in England because “many of them” are traitors. Further, people with both American and English citizenship would be sent back to America, because their citizenship in Britain was no longer considered valid.

Shortly thereafter, The Prime Minister states that regardless of what history has said, democracy has not succeeded in America despite the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence, there were no “repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States”.  Therefore, the supposed Revolution isn’t legitimate because “there’s no photographic evidence that the events described by the Americans ever took place”. Even if they did happen , the PM went on to add, it would be a matter of “They said, We said” because there are two sides to every story.

Every day that week, there is a new story that tells the decline of relations between the two countries, even while the Prince and Princess represent the “official version of history” and are embarrassed by the news from home.

Can you feel the craziness coming on? This is what it’s like to live in America today  as a “minority” of some sort, or as a supporter of a minority.

Here’s the reality and good news of the Civil Rights movement:

1) There was a problem of civil rights for some Americans.

2) When Americans of all stripes saw how bad the problem was, they fixed it. White people (LBJ and Congress) gave to Black people what was due them and felt proud of themselves for doing so,

3) The option for violence was presented again and again and — for a time — the minorities remained non-violent and looked to heal America.  When the leaders of the movement who had tried so hard to love were killed. Violence erupted against those in power and divided us again.

Those are the facts of history. We became a better people because we faced our own issues and dealt with them. We were proud to be Americans. When we didn’t deal with our issues, there was violence.

Now, there are people in power who say that we should be divided, that we shouldn’t be proud, and that violence will not erupt as we revoke the civil rights of some of our citizens, because our democratically elected (twice) president might have a bias. Those who can’t remember their past…

There are usually two types of hurts: Intentional hurt of others and ignorant hurt of others (someone didn’t know the situation and, as a result, hurt someone unintentionally.) While many of us are trying to argue the latter of those two regarding Ferguson and others, leaders have now added a third category — refusal to acknowledge the hurting of others and blaming them for being hurt.

So these are our choices as I see it: 1) Pride, dignity, and respect for us, unity, support for each other and belief in one America or 2) chosen ignorance, no respect for us by other countries, a diminished sense of unity, less pride in what we have accomplished, less love and more violence.

It’s oddly exhausting and feels crazy at times, because others shout louder and lie more aggressively, but I’m going to go with option 1.

Peace,

John