The inability to see ourselves as capable of evil is the way to blindness. I am amazed at how many people lose themselves in their goodness. It is flawed Christian theology to think that we are perfect. There is but one who is perfect. The rest of us must stay vigilant to our own capacity to do evil.
I am convinced that part of the problem with dealing with racism is that so many people think they are incapable of doing wrong. If I thought that, I can only imagine who I would have turn out to be. But it was the knowledge of my capacity to do wrong that opened the door to listen to my critics. Listening to my critics informed me about where I might be wrong but also how I might express myself differently. So many times we say things that are offensive because of ignorance, intellectual laziness, or lack of spiritual discipline.
I am sure if you can obtain perfection it will involve being diligent, disciplined, thoughtful, and constantly learning new things and ways of being. I am amazed that people who have no experience with people who are different from them can have such formed opinions of them. If you do not want to be racist I would assume the first thing you need to do is live and be amongst people of color. In fact studies have shown over and over that people who know someone of another race or sexual orientation are less likely to hold racist or homophobic views.
I would also think that you would have to read people of colors’ writings, listen to their music, and participate in their cultural events to escape racism. But to be willing to do this two things must occur. First, you must have a willingness to learn and a loving heart that wants to know. Second, you must realize that you and your own culture are capable of being wrong.
The famous Roman Road to Salvation starts with the premise ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of what they were created for (the Glory of God)’. Accepting this is the beginning of the path to salvation according to the Evangelicals. But the Evangelicals only apply this principle to Salvation in the eternal sense and do not realize it in the sense of the day to day living. So they become strident and judgmental to those who are different from them or their way of thinking.
The pastor of my church growing up said ‘we can become so heavenly minded that we become earthly useless’.We think we have reached our heavenly perfection when we are still pretty damn earthly. So my request is that everyone take a deep breath and recapture their imperfection and maybe we can save this world we live in.
The Loudest is not the Rightest
Obnoxiousness makes most reasonable people retreat. The loud voice with invectives makes it impossible for dialogue that is not more than one-sided. So most will decide it is not worth the engagement. This is the methodology of the right (and some on the left): shout with passion and act as though that makes you right. Gather up dialogical tricks to win an argument; shout: you are using the race card, I am the true patriot, I am the most connected to God, and so forth, while the Left is determined to win the other sides’ minds and hearts (let them be heard, every opinion matters, etc.).
Race is a problem in this country. The race problem becomes more exasperated in a divided country. But we are not as divided as some would have us believe. One side of the arguments is 18 – 20 percent of the country. There is 55-60 percent of the country on the other side. There is a changing or non-ideological group of 20-25 percent. But the majority of us have similar views. Certainly there are variations here and there but more gun control is desired by 55 to 67%, gay rights are approved by 70%, DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in the country 80+%, over 60% think the wealthy and corporations should be taxed more, even abortion rights is supported by 57%. So a significant majority of the general population are in agreement on most issues. This becomes even more pronounced in the next generation and the minority populations that are becoming a majority in another forty years, as all of the above numbers are increased. So at this point in history we are in the majority and we are moving toward even greater majorities in the future.
So why is the minority view holding so much sway? There are three reasons. 1) the now defunct false equivalencies philosophy 2) the right’s what I call win at all cost and whatever it takes philosophy 3) the left criticizes sometimes mercilessly their movements. The right let their leaders shoot people in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not a peep from their followers would be heard,
So we feel a need to provide platforms for even the vilest opinions of the right. The Nazi opinions do not have to be included alongside other opinions on national television. It is okay to marginalize their voices. Because in truth they are a very small population in our country. And put that alongside of the fact their message is against the basic tenets of our society. I should not see them on television or any other media as much as I do. And they definitely should not be put in situations that make it look like their views are on a parity as civil rights leaders. The same goes for deniers of climate change, deniers of evolution, or any other debunked pseudo-science. To create a debate when there is no debate is not freedom of speech. I do not need to hear or see a debate on if the world is flat.
The second reason is the value of [is this the correct form of the word? Is there pugnacity?] pugnacious. It is using shouting pejoratives and constantly claiming you are more patriotic, more Christian, more everything that is good than the other side. The shouting is also mixed with a zealous passion. There are no flat affects here. We can never give ground because our cause is so pure and the very world is depending on us for salvation. Hard to argue with that. They are not about creating community. They are about winning.
The third reason is the left criticizes their movements and leaders mercilessly. We want perfection. That is in the utopian DNA found in the left. Our leaders must agree with us on every issue. Our movements must be flawless in every action. While I generally agree with this I disagree with the idea that we are choosing between the lesser of two evils. This kind of talk causes a slow deterioration of our cause.
So how do we engage with all the rancor that only cares about winning and not concerned about creating community? We organize our superior numbers into a community. This is what the recent Parkland student-led gun regulation march and the Women’s March on Washington were about. Secondly, we vote our superior numbers even in states such as Alabama where we may not have the majority. But know this: the demographic and philosophical changes to our way of thinking is growing. Thirdly, we do not engage in debate with ideas that have been debunked. We get our message out and debate how evolution happened and not if it happened.
It is true: in the end we have to respect the right of minorities and at the same time promote our agenda. But we do not have to over-expose minority opinions for the sake of interesting television. We need to stand by our man or woman until they cross the line of no return. But mostly we need to rejoice in community, creating it wherever we can and know that in the end at least for the near future we are the majority.
Keep on Dreaming
Dreams of yesteryears can become today’s greatest fears. That was an early motto I developed and lived by. It kept me on the straight and narrow. But it was said in the optimism of youth and not the experience of age. No matter how hard you try to live your dreams the chaos of the world can sometimes take those away from you.
The world does not guarantee it will cooperate with your dreams. So the dreams have to be refined or started over again. But as time goes on it becomes harder to have the faith to refine and start over. So you quit or wear out and give into the chaos.
It is said that we are dreams emanating from God’s heart. Which makes me wonder if God too must constantly refine and start over the dreams. The flood and Noah were one such starting over. Destroy all that is in one’s path and keep the one thing that is true. But Noah is not only about starting over but refining too. One such refinement was the dream of humanity living at peace with the rest of the animal kingdom was given up. It is after the flood when God for the first time allows the consumption of meat. Previously in the Garden, meat was not offered but now in the fall out after the flood it is allowed.
The prophet Isaiah will revive the dream in the famous peaceable kingdom vision. The lion and the lamb shall lie down together. And a child will lead them. And for many, this is what we do with our dreams we cast our bread on the water in our children. To ask your children to take on your dreams and forsake their own is wrong. So we tie our dreams to theirs. What a responsibility and burden to place on their shoulders. It is an impossible dilemma we give our children.
The fear of never living out our dreams can be a great motivator or a great paralyzer. But fear is probably never the best motivator; something more powerful is to be motivated by love. But to extend love beyond the walls of our habitats we live in each day is hard. We can barely keep our own world intact and moving toward our dreams to think of pushing beyond our worlds into the world at large.
We are living in an age full of fear and dreams that are vanquished. We have had huge marches on Washington by women and children. They are calling us to live a dream that an assassinated prophet from old once called us to. A dream that has been distorted by many. The distorters look not to end poverty or racism but are choosing to refine these things to make them more palatable for their divisive visions. After all, the great fear is our world is nothing more than chaos and we cannot ever hope to end the nightmares we have created along the way.
So why am I talking about dreams deferred? Because all indications are that the November elections will bring a reckoning on the destructive policies of Trump. We should all be working to make sure that we give this dream a chance. But in truth we can never know what the future may bring. The dream of a total comeuppance to Trump in November may not happen. How much better Pence will be policy wise is he may be worse. It is then that we do not stop dreaming but we refine and update our dream. But until then we need to keep a steady hand on the plow so that November is as dreamy as possible.