Division and What To Do About It

Have just turned 56 years old, I had kind of planned to stop trying to write The Big Piece That Will Change Everything. I thought I would try to influence my church people and my clients, where possible. The world was just too nuts to make any difference, in so many ways that I didn’t even know where to start.

This week, it got too weird not to care. As 2/3 of the UK decided to secede from the European Union, it became apparent that the whole human family was dysfunctional. Shortly after that election, one of our Presidential contenders (I can’t believe I’m using that term at any time in my life time) said, “Good!”. Shortly after that, there was talk that Texas was considering voting to secede from the U.S. I don’t even like Texas, but I have friends and in-laws there, so I have reasons to care.

Of course, last week was terrorism in Orlando, and our inner cities still are gun wielding war zones, crooked police are still running afoul of justice, as they are found innocent by law. Bernie supporter men get tesy with Hillary supporter women and we bicker daily on Facebook about liberals and conservatives, whether Black Lives Matter, gun control, and bathroom usage by people of uncertain genitalia. Jan Brewer, a bigot if ever there was one, said today that she is so sick of being called a bigot. Really? Yes. But lots of white folks are sick of being called bigots, lots of men are sick of being called sexist and lots of straight folks are sick of being called homophobic while lots of people remain really dead.  What we are doing is not working. Something is deeply wrong within our society. 

I think liberals and radicals are agreeing to the wrong premises while many reactionaries are speaking false premises.  In this morning’s lectionary text, the apostle Paul says this: the desire of the flesh is “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” The Right focuses on the regular type in that list while we ignore the parts in bold. What if enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, and envy are the products of what we are doing on both sides of the coin?

In the old days, the goal was to be united as a people with things like the UN, the Hague. The World Council of Churches and my own denimination, the Unied Church of Christ were born of the desire to unite under ecumenism. It has been years since anyone wanted to unite  as a goal.  We fight among ourselves everywhere because we want our own way. Pride rules our existence because “we don’t want anybody to tell us what to do!” (even if nobody cares).

So here’s my suggestion. Instead of talking about men, women, black, white, hispanic, asian, abled and disabled, straight, gay, bi, trans, British, American, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Egytian, and so on, why don’t we talk about humans or human beings or human life? Why don’t we stop giving credence to bigots who say, “I shot them because they’re different”.  Why don’t we stop giving credence to people who say “my country” is better than “their country” or “my religion” is better than “their religion”?

Let’s remember that all life is sacred. From God’s perspective, or from space, there are no countries, there’s just our planet. From the same perspective, there’s just humanity. There are people in every group I disagree with and people in every group I know that I like. It is not the group that makes me love them, it never has been. It is not the group that makes me hate them, and it never has been — or if it is, I have a problem, and I should be fighting that urge to divide us into “us” and “them”.

And let’s hold each other accountable to that ideal. As doctors take an oath that says, “first do no harm”.

Let’s see how this changes our worldview:  Last week 50 human beings were killed by another person. Tamir Rice, a 10-year old child, was killed by police, while playing with a toy gun. Michael Brown was shot by police after stealing cigars.  Human beings living today on a reservation in the southwest had their rights taken away from them years ago by force. Maybe when people who don’t want to pay taxes fear their freedom being taken away, maybe they have something to compare it to.  When a girl is sold into slavery or has her genitals mutilated, why don’t we say that a person was sold or a person had their genitals mutilated?  Remember all the squeamishness when John Wayne Bobbitt had his penis cut off? Maybe we men could understand the issue better if “they” were “us”. The list goes on. We didn’t kill Arabs for oil. We killed human beings for oil.

A human being is President of our country, and President of many countries on earth. Let us not limit the possibilities of any group of human beings, for any reason. When Britain votes to leave the EU, we should remind them that they can’t leave the human race. When Donald Trump says Mexicans can’t come here, let us remind him that he’s saying human beings can’t come here.

Let us talk about being one people, so that all the stupid acts are us, and all the noble acts are us. Let us talk about being one species, because we are.

Anyway, that’s my proposal.

Peace,

 

John

 

 

A Survivor Responds to the Stanford Rapist’s Father

[Editor’s note: Every once in awhile, someone else’s words are so eloquent and important that I know they need to be shared . This is one of those times. I share it because Callie Farnsworth’s words needs to be said, and society needs to hear them.. This kind of thing happens all the time, to so many people that it is no wonder we have such problems in our society. In fact, a friend I discuss cases with anonymously has come to understand that the more complex a person’s case is, the more likely that rape or sexual trauma is involved. Nearly every female addict that comes to my office (and many male ones, as well) have the experience of rape or sexual abuse as the underlying cause for their behaviors. It is a devastating experience with ripples in every aspect of the person’s life. To that end, I have shared the experience of the Callie’s  father — Rev. Todd Farnsworth–  as well. Please know that if you are a survivor of rape or sexual abuse, new and better treatments and coping skills are available, but it it still a difficult thing. Text size varies here in acknowledgement of importance, with the rape survivor largest of all].
Prelude — Todd: As the father of a beautiful young woman who is surviving (and many days thriving) post rape, I am stunned by the letter written by the Stanford rapist’s father. The complete lack of awareness of what his son did to the victim, and the impact that will have on her life, is staggering. It could have been written by the victim’s father. The loss of appetite. The constant reminders. The interruptions of work because something triggered the individual. The life sentence that carries a burden of “living with it.” The court rarely provides justice in these cases. Until laws are written with a new sensitivity, the same insensitive verdicts will be awarded. Praying for change. Praying for peace….for my daughter, and all the daughters who carry this pain.

Callie Farnsworth: A Survivor  Responds to the Stanford Rape Verdict…

I have tried to read the articles about Stanford through the past few days but I can’t. I have started them many times, read half way through, and had to stop. The event is horrific, the sentence is horrific, and it makes me sick. I walked around in a haze today, peeking at my newsfeed, reading headlines, trying to make sense of it. And I can’t. I can only hope that this is the straw that breaks the camels back.

I thought Cosby would, but we barely talk about him now. I thought the Columbia girl with the mattress would be, but she graduated last spring and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t shared on my newsfeed. I thought Kesha might hit a mark, but she has been slipping back into the cellars of social media. Those ladies who posted the Charlie’s Angels photo for stopping a date rape? They were active, and did something outside of their social media. But what next?

I think rape needs to stop being just a ‘trending topic’. It is wonderful to share and post and talk about it. It makes a difference. But what are the thousands of people who shared the article doing a week from now? Two weeks from now? Where are they when this woman is sitting at home on a Tuesday years from now and she smells pine needles? That stuff scares me.

A little boy I babysat told me he knew the worst word in the dictionary. It was four letters. It was the worst thing you could do to a person and he believed it had only happened in ‘olden times’. I hope when he grows up rape will only have existed in his ‘olden times’ and it is universally considered the crime that it is.