(People With) Guns Kill

This morning, I heard that there had been a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. Because it was a mass shooting (20+ people), I assumed that there was an assault rifle. Apparently, there wasn’t. As luck would have it, I had meant to say something at least as clearcut as “Can we at least admit that guns kill, or is that too much reality?”. I decided to tone it down to something more reasonable, something more palatable to more people. Once again, my liberalness (“Be nice, John. Reach out. Don’t be so negative ) got I’m the way of my true feelings (a collection of expletives, punctuated by disbelief, followed by more expletives, followed by something between rage and deep sadness).

So, here is what I want to say: Guns kill people. Guns kill many things. That’s what they are designed for. Sometimes those “things” are people. Guns do damage. Guns do damage to anything they are aimed at. That’s what they are supposed to do. Sometimes those “things” are people.

Put another way: tires roll, hammers hit, scissors cut. That’s what they are supposed to do when working right. If tires started killing people in droves, we’d do something about it. If people were attacking each other with hammers, we’d make laws against them or at least regulate them in some ways. If scissors were the weapon of choice, we’d do the same. Why can’t we regulate or outlaw — yes, outlaw– gun use? Pistols are used for killing people — in self-defense or otherwise. That’s what they do. Can we ban them, please? Aren’t there other ways to defend ourselves? In relation to the whole “only criminals would have guns” thing, what if we simply didn’t make them? Then no one would have them, because they wouldn’t around to be had.

On the other side of the spectrum are the assault rifles, which are designed to cause major damage. You don’t need them to hunt animals. You need them to take over countries. I know all the rhetoric that says you can hunt with them, but really, there’s not enough meat left afterwards if you do. If you want to take over a country, it probably shouldn’t be your own. If you try to take over a country and it’s not your own (and you aren’t part of an army), you’re called a terrorist. That’s as it should be. You are causing terror among the people that you are shooting at. That’s why it’s worse if you shoot your own people. You’re killing people that you believe are on your side.

So, what if we didn’t make or sell pistols or assault weapons? That would leave rifles. For those who hunt animals or see it as a sport, rifles are ideal. For walking across town undetected, they are not. If the police see a person with a rifle, they can avoid trouble before it starts. If there are no police, you can at least run away from a rifle, again preventing trouble before it happens. This is common sense gun control.

At this point, I hear all the gun nuts screaming in my head, “I have the right to own a gun! The Constitution says I do!” Yes, you do. I have no argument for that, except this: the Constitution also acknowledges that we are “endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Does your right to own a gun over-ride my right to live, or vice-versa? No, No it doesn’t.

If you can own a rifle, I am allowing your right to have a gun, while I keep my right to life. Seems fair to me.

I suppose people might have a right to own a pistol or an assault rifle. People have the right to do all kinds of stupid things. That doesn’t mean they should do them. At this point in our history, human beings haven’t shown that they know how to use pistols or assault weapons in any responsible way. Maybe because there is no way to use a pistol or assault weapon in a responsible way or maybe I’m just not seeing it. But wouldn’t it be best if only people who could prove they were responsible in the first place could have guns? Isn’t that a better way to think about it. Let’s start by limiting the number of guns out there, and make you earn the right to use one. Common sense requires common people to be sensible. Right now, as people die more and more often, we can’t seem to manage that. Something has to change.

Resisting with Peace,

John

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I Want An America That… (Why I’ll Vote November 6th)

I just listened to Joe Biden giving a speech in Hartford, Connecticut and I’m feeling a little nostalgic and patriotic, so I thought I’d channel his energy to write this …

I want an America that treasures all of humanity.

I want an America that treats every person with dignity and respect

I want an America that listens to its people, that allows itself to listen by encouraging the vote.

I want an America where all people have a place to live, food to eat, clean water to drink, and clothes on their backs.

I want an America that thinks, and sees thinking as a good thing.

I want an America that wants our planet to exist.

I want an America that loves and cares for children.

I want an America that doesn’t lie, cheat, or steal from its own people.

I want an America whose government understands that it works for us.

I want an America that works for all its people, not just some.

I want an America with dignity because it lives and acts morally.

I want an America that knows what’s real and what’s not.

I want an America that doesn’t make it illegal to be poor.

I want an America that takes care of itself.

I want an America without mass shootings.

I want an America where people are interested in each other, not afraid of each other.

I want an America where being in love is a good thing and the sex lives of others are none of my business.

I want an America that welcomes people not from here.

I want an America that wants peace.

I want an America where no one is above the law, and the punishment fits the crime.

I want an America that sees itself as part of the world.

I want an America that doesn’t have Republican judges or Democratic judges.

I want an America that, if you take a walk and you aren’t doing anything wrong, police leave you alone.

I want an America that acknowledges that people get sick.

I want an America where no one gets raped.

I want an America that I can be proud of.

Yes, it’s a long list, but I don’t think I’m asking for that much. In these times, though, it seems that many of us have forgotten these things or never believed in them at all. Because it feels so far from who we are right now, I will vote for people who share my values.

I will live against those who believe in a divided, hateful America with my every breath. But, on November 6th, I was will do the one thing that matters. I will vote.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Existence Is Not Futile!

There’s a story in the New York Times Thank says “Trans Category May Be Erased From Forms” if the Trump administration has its way.

I am not amused, nor amazed by this news.

What I have found in the last two years is the number of people who already don’t exist to our government. I liked to think I knew history, but clearly, I didn’t.

If your island can be decimated and the President can withhold aid, you don’t exist. You have no voice that matters.

If you don’t like having your body parts grabbed, fondled, mutilated, or otherwise handled with your consent, Brett and the Boys don’t think you exist.

If you’re escaping from criminals in your country, you can’t exist in ours.

If you’re a child separated from your family for no reason but your skin color, you also don’t exist. The law knows you are in a camp, but the law doesn’t apply to you. You do not exist.

When one white man in Georgia can take away the votes of 50,000 people in an instant, those voters don’t exist.

When a town in Texas can keep an entire college community from voting 30 years after they won a Court case, those people are silenced. They don’t exist in our democracy.

When a pipeline can destroy Native American lands because our government says so, those people have no voice in America. They, too, do not exist. That’s not a new thing, but I thought sovereign governments had to respect other sovereign governments.

….. But here’s the thing….

For years and years now, people have been suddenly appearing in our world.

In 1954, Black folk appeared at lunch counters, and on busses, and in our neighborhoods. Before that, the world was made up of White men. We survived it and thrived as a country because of it.

In the late 60’s and early 1970’s, women started materializing on the scene as human beings with their own thoughts and feelings. We are a better country because of it.

In 1972 or so, at Wounded Knee, Native Americans appeared on our continent, not as TV caricatures, but as people with a history, and pride, an appreciation for the earth that we didn’t have. If we survive on the planet, it will be because we saw our land as sacred, something we learned from them.

In the early 1970’s, in a corner of New York City, people who had sex with the same gender began to appear. Shortly thereafter, gays and lesbians existed all over the country. As they became full human beings in our minds, they became people who love each other, adoptive parents, husband and husband, wife and wife, artists, and musicians, and sports players. Now they’re here, they’re queer, and most of us have gotten used to it. Those of us who have taken the time, are better for knowing them.

After September 11th, there were suddenly Muslims in America. We hadn’t noticed them before, and they were scary for a long time, but then they became classmates, neighbors, store owners, and people with regal-looking headgear.

Now, in the 2010’s, there are all these “non-binary” folks with thoughts, feelings, actions, and preferences that I’d never heard of, and still don’t always understand. Those are the ones the government says might not exist on forms. Still, if history serves as any kind of measure, these people will become human as our eyes change. They will exist as surely as we do. They will be us, and our lives will be richer for knowing them.

Life was a lot simpler when only White Men existed or mattered. It wasn’t just or fair to others, but it was simple for us and some of us, sometimes, wish it could be simple again. At least we’d know what we’re doing. Still, those “other” people exist now, and we can’t exactly put them back. We have to cope. We don’t have a choice.

Try as they might, this administration cannot put them back in a bottle or closet or out of existence or keep them out of sight for long. I like oatmeal as much as the next guy, but after awhile, spaghetti and burritos and General Tso’s chicken come into memory. When things get too spicy, oatmeal still exists. I now refuse to let those other things be taken away. More so, with people.

…. and then there’s this other thing…

God knows those people exist — all of them — and if you try to erase them, even a single one of them, God, whose eye is on the sparrow — will be very pissed at you for destroying what God has created. No one gets removed from this earth — no one — and God doesn’t see it. God saw Cain and Abel. God knows anytime a life, or freedom, or a voice is taken away by human hands or hearts. God doesn’t forget. Neither can we.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Hidden Misunderstandings: Pain, Anger, Truth, and – Isms

There’s a meme going around the internet that says, in essence, that women prepare for going into the world in a certain detailed way that attempts to protects them from being raped. I don’t know that it’s true. I don’t know that it’s not true. I am certain that it never would have occurred to me to ask. Why? I don’t know what I don’t.

None of us know what we don’t know, but I was reminded, as I read this, of the stories a few years ago, of Black families that gave “the talk” to their kids about how to behave when pulled over by the police so that they didn’t get shot. Again, until I asked, I didn’t know if it was true or not (it is). Again, I wouldn’t have even known to ask. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

While I’m on the topic, I know many blackout drunks who will tell you, on one hand, that they had blackouts. On the other hand, they’ll say, “But I never hurt anyone while I was”. An honest assessment of this, via an alcoholic I know, is that if you blackout, you don’t know what you did or didn’t do. Again, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Whole classes of people have factual experiences that others don’t. For many of us who don’t have those experiences, there is often shock and horror that such things happen. For others of us there is shock and denial that such things happen. Such is the case with sexual abuse victims and those who have never been sexually abused.

Here’s the pattern: 1) X event happens and it is sooo horrific (literally “unimaginable”) to those for whom it has never happened.

2) The listener says, “Why would anybody do such a thing? It’s too horrific to think about.

3) The listener searches their memory and thinks, “Have I ever done such a thing or thought of such a thing?”

4) If the listener has done or thought such a thing, and they have any emotional capacity to do so, they will feel ashamed. I have seen examples of this in male friends recently regarding the #MeToo movement re: unwanted sexual contact — not rape, necessarily — but things akin to it. Those who are ashamed apologize.

5) If the listener hasn’t done or thought to do such a thing, the experience remains “unthinkable” and often comes out like “That couldn’t happen” or “I can’t imagine that!”. These are two, for them, “true” statements and their revulsion to it makes it powerfully true. The problem, of course, is that for the victim of such a thing, these are the very words you should never say. Their experience is sooo powerful to them, and true, that denying their truthfulness creates absolute chaos — anger, sadness, confusion all at the same time — in the experienced person.

++++++HERE’S WHERE THE ISMS AND BLAME HAPPEN +++++++++++++++++++++++

The experienced, hurt party (understandably) says, “because you can’t see this, you are racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic” !

The inexperienced, previously un-hurt person (understandably) says, “I am not a racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic person! And now they are hurt, having been now accused falsely.

[Note here: confusing matters, people with no ability to, or interest in, feeling shame also do this, making things worse]

But here’s how the divide happens, and it happens all the time in each respective camp.

So how do we heal the divide? First, maybe not do so many horrible things in the world.

Other than that: Here’s how to break the cycle of blame/shame:

1) Never, ever say “I can’t believe that” or “I can’t imagine that”. Instead, try, “That’s hard for me to understand, but tell me more so that I can”.

2) Believe that the experienced person is not saying this to hurt you. Their experience is not your guilt. It is simply their experience. Them labeling you “racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic” isn’t helping matters, but understand that they are hurt, and they probably have been for quite some time. Say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ll think about it, but I don’t think so”. Then think about it. If they are right, apologize. If not go back and tell them you’ve thought about it and disagree. This keeps you engaged.

3) On the other side, be able to imagine that the other person isn’t racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic, or isn’t aware that they are. The possibility that they are just being a jerk shouldn’t be the first “go to” response. Assuming they are intentionally being a jerk — racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic — isn’t helpful . It may be true, but assuming it always is just isn’t helpful.

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this. I’m just coming to grips with some of the ideas in it.

Resisting with Peace,

John

To All The Wounded Healers I Know…

(This was going to originally be a post for Clergy, but I realized its needed for my therapy colleagues as well…and so it is.)

Last night a good friend of mine SCREAMED in anguish about the Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford hearings. She is a survivor of sexual and/or physical abuse. I wanted to reach out to her and comfort her in whatever ways she needed. I still do, and to the extent that it’s possible, I hope to do that here.

When I was in seminary and people were just starting to talk about sexual abuse, it began to seem like it was an admission requirement to have been abused. It seemed statistically impossible that so many of us were abused. Thirty years later, with the Access Hollywood tapes and the ensuing #MeToo movement, it seems it was statistically reasonable, if morally repugnant, that my seminary class had so many survivors. Some didn’t make it through seminary, their PTSD symptoms and fragile minds unable to handle masters degree work.

For those of us that went on, we had some period of screaming ourselves, either before or after seminary. If we were in churches, we lost jobs and our congregation lost its leader(s). The church, the body of Jesus Christ, suffered again, as it had the first time, and continued to every time a person is victimized by sexual, physical, or emotional assault. If you are one of those people, know that Jesus weeps for you and with you and doesn’t abandon you to your grief.

The God of the ‘Apiru (remnant, the word that became “Hebrew”) loves all of the people of the world that were “picked last for softball”, or passed by in life by the powerful. That God is on their side. In Jesus, we see that, and we choose to work for the one who would have us, later realizing that we were actually lovable all along — it’s just that Jesus knew it first.

In picking up our own crosses, we took on the belief that we, in Jesus’ name could heal and love and welcome all the other ‘Apiru out there. Among people of this generation, there are many places where feel like “the sandwich generation”. We take care of our elders and we take care of our adult children. We take care of Security Security, hoping there will still be some left for us, and that things will get better for our children. And, psychologically, we take care of others’ anguish while we feel the pull of our own.

These past few weeks have been hard, really hard, for survivors who are also “people helpers” — clergy, therapists, social workers, or anyone who sees trauma in their daily lives. After yesterday’s session between the woman and the judge, that daily anguish reached a peak and then broke while we waited for the Committee to vote. I, for one, don’t want to listen to the news, because I have only so much room on my heart left for bruising. I will take a break for a few days before I engage The Powers That Be.

After that break, I will go back to the fray. I pray that you will do the same. It will take all of us to build a goal-line defense against the forces of evil until our country can be sane again.

That said, to quote Jesus again, “the meek shall inherit the earth”. We saw that yesterday in the clash of the devastated vs. those who devastate the world around us everywhere. Mr. Kavanaugh’s anger, nay, fury didn’t seem to hold any more weight than the shivering anxiety and truth-telling of Ms Blasey Ford. The truth held out, even in a weakened state. Her simple shakiness, stood against the bluster of the rage and her apolitical truth stood against the political games the world is wont to play. God was not distracted. Now, neither is the world.

To be frank, Judge Kavanaugh will never be taken seriously as a respectable judge until this is cleared up. He, and, only he, has the power to bring honesty to the story via a full investigation. Whatever there is to this story, her honesty makes her powerful and his lack candor makes him weak. Truth wins out, even from the abused, especially the abused. The arc of justice is bending, and in the right direction– and you have made that happen. There is chaos in Washington which reflects the chaos in our souls. The way to clean up the first is to clean up the second. That will come.

In order to do that work, my brothers and sisters, we need to rest up as much as possible and take care of ourselves. Then, we need to speak God’s truth and people’s experience until the actual truth, which we know in our hearts, comes to bear on a world bent by lies. When we care about those who need care, when we acknowledge those that the powerful tell us not to, when we refrain from bigotry, and encourage love, we will win and God will win.

Regardless of politics, we can see quality and we respond to it. After 18 months of lies and craziness, our former President reminds us what intellect and truth look like. The world stops to pause when kindness and truth speak. People choose well when they see that choices exist.

Do what you need to do to take care of yourself , tell congregants what you’ve been going through and why you’re so exhausted. If you’ve been empowering your people, let them test their wings for awhile. Share the burden. Even Jesus knew the work was easier with twelve or seventy-two than by himself. Use his wisdom.

If you have strength, keep up the battle of souls against Powers. When you don’t, dont. God wants us always at our best, because a) God likes to see us happy and b) we bring our “A game” to the world when we’re at our healthiest. Put on the breathing mask first so that you can find the mouths that need to be fed more of Oxygen of Truth.

Get a hug when you can, if that works for you. Receive God’s Spirit if that works for you. Sleep and rest, if that works. Laugh if that heals you. Create! Whatever gives you strength, do that. Be healed and don’t give up hope, because you are hope, and you shouldn’t give up on yourself. God doesn’t and neither should you.

Resisting with Peace,

Joh

Not A Good Time for “Not All Men”

Years ago, my friend Margo Moten, who is Black, pointed out a Black man hanging out on a street corner near her house, and she said, “I hate that guy. He makes all Blacks look bad”. I had never thought of it before, she clearly wasn’t him, and I don’t like to generalize, but I could see her point. In a world where Blacks were already painted as lazy, or bad, or whatever, that guy wasn’t helping the cause by supporting the narrative she was trying to break. In that same spirit…

It’s difficult enough for men who protest that “men don’t all” oppress women, or rape them or beat them, or whatever. In a sexist world, as some would call it, this week or two have been particularly difficult. In an America where a statistically significant portion of women say “#MeToo”, the chance that you’re in a room with a survivor is high, no matter where you go.

Of that number , a high percentage of women (and men) have been triggered, making them deal with their trauma all over again. Given that atmosphere, I just want to say a few things:

1) Judge Kavanaugh, if the accusations are true doesn’t make me proud to be a man. Actually, even if the accusations are not true, the stories surrounding him happen so often that the allegations just make life harder for everybody to see the good in each other.

2) The entire Republican White Male defenders of Kavanaugh on the Senate Judiciary Committee who seem to have absolutely no interest in the truth, or finding out what it was/is don’t make Republican White Men — or men in general — look very good. It’s hard to convince your spouse or coworker or classmate that they are safe with guys like them around.

3) Lest it needs to be said, the President is no role model, either, when it comes to men and women. His lifestyle, his acts, and his words make men look horrible. If there was a way to have him and men like him thrown of my gender, I would. If, as he says, he “has no attorney general”, then I have no President.

Now, here’s the thing I want to say: most men are not rapists, molesters, abusers or such a thing. I’m not being defensive here. I’m not saying “not all men do this”, I’m saying that most men don’t.

Why do I say this? What facts do I have to support this? I don’t have statistics for any of this. I can say that 15% of men are molested themselves and — of that — 7/8 don’t go on to re-offend. That’s the closest thing I have to a verifiable fact I have. I suspect that most men don’t sexually assault men for two reasons

1) Somebody’s got to be raising good kids who are respectful of women . There are lots of good parents out there. Good parents raise good sons.

2) women still marry men for love. If there were that many jerks out there, women wouldn’t marry men. They wouldn’t have a second date, let alone make a permanently bad choice.

I say all of this is not because I’m a perfect gentleman . I’m sure I’m not in broad strokes. But most men I know are appalled by the whole thing, Most men have wives or daughters who they wouldn’t want anything to happen to. Most men remember Clarence Thomas’ election to the court and the whole Anita Hill thing. We’ve got to have learned something by now. With all that knowledge, any man who engages in such behavior is choosing to be a jerk.

I hope this helps women feel safer, though I understand if it doesn’t — especially this week.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Re: Blasey Ford v. Kavanaugh

Equal justice Under Law. Due Process. Right and Wrong. Each of these issues needs to be addressed by any sitting judge, let alone a Supreme Court Justice.

There are many questions to be answered:

1) Do politicians play politics?

2) Do men rape or attempt to rape women?

The answer to both of those questions is “yes”

Is that what’s going on here? I don’t know. Neither do you. Once again, the only people that know what happened were the people that were there. God, of course, knows. Beyond that, no one knows.

Are the Democrats playing politics by making the announcement. Are the Republicans trying to keep the information hidden? We don’t know, but it’s a fair bet.

Does it matter? No, it does not. Not yet. i wouldn’t vote for Kavanaugh in any case. His innocence or guilt won’t make him look any worse to me. I don’t trust the man. Am I a partisan hack? Maybe. Does that matter? No. Regardless of whether I’m a good judge of character or not, there is an issue at play here that transcends politics.

Either what Ms. Blakey Ford said is true or it is not. Either Judge Kavanaugh is telling the truth or he’s not. Is she lying? Is he lying? None of our biases matter. We have a way to figure this out. We use it all the time. We look, we ask, we question, and we get to some idea of the truth.

Here’s the one thing that we do know: Men who attempt to rape or gang rape anyone are criminals. Women who falsely accuse are criminals. People of either gender can lie. People of either gender can tell tell the truth.

We can’t make a decision about which Mr. Kavanaugh is without investigating. We simply can’t. This is the only solution:

She gets a hearing. He gets a hearing. By who? I don’t care. I’m not sure it should be a political circus, because biases and politics are what we’re trying to avoid. Besides that, a trauma victim, (if in fact she is that), needs to be screamed at, shamed, or accused of lying like they need a hole in the head. The judge needs the same response about as much.

After this hearing, after people have a good understanding of the situation and what the truth is, after that when we can make an informed decision– and only after that, should a vote be taken on the Kavanaugh nomination.

Resisting the Trump agenda with peace,

John

Hate CAN NOT Win: BlackkKlansman and Our Times

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.” 

— Exodus 1: 8 – 12

“When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” — Donald Trump

“C’mon. America couldn’t elect a man like David Duke president” — Ron Stallworth in “BlackkKlansman”

“And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.  Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings,  and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10 So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”– Exodus 3: 6 -10

There aren’t that many things that make me actually want to cry, but Spike Lee’s new movie “BlackkKlansman” did it.  A (White, if that makes any difference) parishioner had suggested I see it. Trevor Noah did an interview with Spike Lee and told Lee that it made all those people seem almost normal…they weren’t, but you could see their side”. So, I went.

The movie begins with a scene from Gone With The Wind” and then cuts to Alec Baldwin as man making hateful, racist propaganda. One of the words he uses is “super-predator” to describe Blacks. If the recreation is true,  I immediately thought, “If I were Black and Hillary Clinton used that phrase, I would never vote for her”. That would have left Donald Trump, or should I say, that would have left no one to vote for. And yet, African-Americans voted in large numbers. I can’t imagine.

The main story begins with a Black policeman infiltrating a Stokely Carmichael/ Kwame Ture rally because White folks are afraid of him. I had never heard of Carmichael’s “Ture” years, but I suspect they were like Malcom X’s time after Mecca.  Love had pretty much supplanted hate by then in his speaking. Why had I never heard of it? Because the Stokely Carmichael who said, “Burn, Baby, Burn” was more in line with White America’s narrative.

While there, he meets a woman that he falls for who has been stopped and felt up by a White policeman.  She believes the police — all police –are pigs. Given that death is a possibility when racist police are involved, I can see why this view might be handy for survival, but it drives a wedge between the couple, and illustrates what Ture had just been saying about having to be two different people: an American and a Black person.

This turns into an investigation into the KKK who are much scarier.  Later, a colleague who is Jewish says, “I’m not a practicing Jew, but I find myself thinking about tradition more and more — and I have to say hateful things all day”. The KKK has created a division within him as well.

And so it goes, until the film ends with a cross-burning in retaliation and recent images of Charlottesville, -including our man-at-1600-Pennsylvania-Avenue and David Duke cheering him on.

So, I got to thinking: I know these people. I grew up in a time when they were sort of normal. That’s when the tears wanted to come. There is so much racism out there, kept in front of our eyes, and kept from our eyes. I have often thought that I was “too Black” for “always” talking about this stuff. Though I pride myself on my knowledge of Black culture,  the Ture thing gives me pause. If I who wants to know doesn’t know it, what about my friends who don’t even try or know to try? Years ago, I went out to eat with my friend Greg Coles (who is African-American, though that shouldn’t matter). We didn’t get served after we sat down at a table. Greg knew what was up, but I didn’t. I believed the perception that he had, but I couldn’t imagine it was true. It has happened to him many times, I guess, and I was just “lucky enough” to see it because I was there.  “What kind of a person does that?”, I thought.  It turns out that quite a lot of people think that. And yet, I was there. I saw it for myself. Denial of evil is strong in our society, especially for a White, straight man.

We feel threatened by the change all around us — we do. I feel that way sometimes, but I don’t worry about dying because women are or aren’t attracted. I have a history of bad driving, but I would be dead by now if I were Black and pulled over that much. Gay men and lesbians — and now trans folks — can be dead  if someone doesn’t like their existence.

We live in a nation and a culture that believes it’s the decent thing to do to not like another group’s existence. What is that?! The fact that people in this country have to prove they have the right to exist — that they’re not one of “the bad ones” of a group that they are supposed to hate —  means that our base line is we don’t think they have the right to. What is that?!. What this movie pointed out to me is that so much of what Donald Trump says about “them” (pick a group, any group)  is what people actually believe and what we believe is a lie.

Because we, yes we, White, Christian, heterosexual, men set up these rules, we must fix them.  When this administration lets thousands of Puerto Ricans die and we stop caring, when this administration separates hundreds or thousands of families at the border because they’re not “us”, and has no plan to care about them, even, we imply that they don’t have the right to exist because we don’t have to care about them.

God sees all of this, and like the God of the Old Testament, God sees the misery of God’s people — and God is on their side. We only think we have misery. Constant fear of death is misery. If we don”t fix these problems The Big Lie that is Donald Trump’s entire presidency, the lie winsThat I cannot tolerate.   Lies can’t win in God’s world, and if we want to be on the right side of history, we have to not let them, or fix them when they do. As a man of faith, I just can’t.

Love, reparations, healing, reconciliation, and beauty must win. Those things also come in the form of dark-skinned people of all sorts. Those things come from Asians and Native-Americans, and indigenous bush people, as well as White people, in women just as much as men. They all get to exist. If we kill them or maim them or neglect them intentionally, we do those things to God who is the source of all of those things.

May God help us if we don’t believe our own eyes.

Resisting with Peace,

John

 

Really?! How Hard Is This?!

I walk down the street, I drive in my car, I go to work and I never, ever accuse a Black person of swimming in a pool, or of breaking into a house, or of raping a member of my family, or robbing a bank. It doesn’t seem that hard to me.

There are a bunch of reasons for this:

1) Swimming in a pool isn’t illegal.

2) There are no laws against being Black

3) No one (of any color) has raped a member of my family that I know of.  If they have or had, their color of their skin is not the important thing. The fact that they were assaulted is.

4) I’ve never seen a bank robbery in real life. Again, if I’m at a bank robbery, the color of the person with the gun is the least of my concerns.  Being dead, losing money — those things would be concerns.

The same goes for brown, yellow, or red skinned-people. The same goes for people of different sexual orientations, different genders, different states of mind, and physical abilities. I don’t get why this is hard for people!

This in no way is to suggest I’m a saint. I have stupid thoughts on occasion, but I keep them to myself! Just as there are guys who “can’t keep it in their pants”, it seems like there are more and more people who just can’t keep their idiocy in their own minds. In addition to thinking racist,sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, ableist things, they now feel free to say them. Furthermore, they now seem to be lining up to act on those thoughts. Really?! Is it that hard?!

People are allowed by law to walk down the same streets, swim in the same pool, shop in the same stores, go to the same schools, cook the same food, lead the same lives as you do! If they’re not doing anything wrong, leave them the hell alone! If they’re minding their own business, mind yours!

I try to tell people all the time that the person with the problem needs to learn to cope or learn another way to cope. If it bothers you that Black people exist, go somewhere where they don’t! If you don’t like people using the public pool that they have a right to be in, go to another pool! If you don’t like people shopping in “your” store, shop somewhere else. You’ve got the problem. If you don’t like gay people, don’t go to gay bars to harass them. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one! (By the way, if you don’t like White people, don’t go where they go just to pick a fight. Go because you belong there. If you don’t like heterosexuals, for whatever reasons, don’t hang out with them. If you don’t like people of a certain religion, don’t do business with them, certainly don’t go to their Place of Worship and harass them.) Honestly, have some boundaries, people! Get lives of your own, instead of worrying about what other people are doing! Just stop.

That said, the whole generalizing thing is just a bad idea. If you worry about Muslim terrorists, but you’re on a bus with a friend of Timothy McVeigh, you’re worried about the wrong people! If you think Black folks with guns are scarier than White folks with one, you’re wasting your anxiety on frivolous things. If you’re worried about 200 members of MS-13, and you take it out on children, or asylum seekers, or even just Mexicans, you’re beating up the wrong people! And in your misdirected anger or fear, you’re wasting money, time, and, most of all, people’s lives (including your own!)

Solve actual problems, not made up ones! If you can’t do that, you are the one with the problem, as will as the one who is the problem. Figure it out people! Really, it’s not that hard!

(Did I get some of this wrong? Probably. It’s a rant. If it hurts you, tell me and I’ll apologize. Or correct me. I’m cool with that, at least for awhile. Then let me think about it.)

Resisting with Peace,

John

Peace,

What They’re Going To Find and What We’re Going To Find…

As the Mueller investigation gets deeper and deeper, from what I read, this is what they will find:

There is a whole bunch of people who have most of the world’s wealth and they got it through illicit means. Not everyone who has wealth is evil, but those who are evil continue to chase money. Some of these people believe that they are the best people and that they bring dignity to countries by living within them (Fascists) Others in this group are just thugs who want legitimacy (criminals — money launderers, sex traffickers, arms dealers and others who hide in the shade and prey upon society.

This bunch of criminals knew where the money was kept, where the bodies were buried, what the dirty secrets were in government officials’ lives. They solidified power by getting into seats of power and changing the rules, so that they would make even more money and divide it up among fewer and fewer people.

They know where the tax shelters are offshore in places like the Caymen Islands, the Seychelles, maybe Switzerland. They created tax shelters for themselves in Congress. There is no end to their greed.

The NRA, the supposedly “most American” organization ever, was infiltrated by the Russians years ago. It’s leaders are leading the charge to break up America by turning Americans against each other. This is not why the NRA was started, and what we are seeing is the “regular folks’ NRA which hunts for sport vs. the new NRA leadership, which wants violence.

These same people make money off of privatized prisons and control the stock market (s). If they can ratchet up the stress on people by making them work more and more and paying them less and less under the guise of capitalism, which we’re told is the ultimate good, then people will start shooting each other. When people shoot each other, they go to a private prison, and the group in power makes even more money, which is spread out among fewer and fewer people.

Manafort lived in this world. So do the Koch brothers. So does the Saudi Royal Family. And, yes, so does Donald Trump, and Jared Kushner. Also, Rudolph Guilianni, parts of the FBI, Putin, and Netanyahu. Erik Prince and Betsy DeVos and their family for generations. Michael Cohen is sort of a bagman for the American contingent.

All of these people made a major push recently to achieve their dreams when Donald Trump got elected.

When all of this comes out, what we’re going to find is that:

1) We don’t like families being torn apart.

2) People do better when they eat, and sleep and rest and spend time with their families

3) People do better when they’re medical needs are met.

4) Better decisions are made when we use facts. Science works.

5) The ice caps are melting, and we’d better do something about it soon.

Once the money is found and put to good use on the things above, there will be less stress in the world, and we will find we like each other, that we’re so very much the same and there is more of “us” than there are of “them” around the globe.

After that, we have a lot of work to do, and we will, hopefully, do it.

Resisting in Peace,

John