Tag Archives: inequality

Speaking of Bullies

Are you scared?  The GOP Candidate is terrifying to me.  He sounds like Hitler before he became the killer.  He spews hate speech. He acts like a child who misbehaves to get attention. He recently said he would hit someone so hard their head would spin.  Bullying language!  He claims he wants to make “America great again”, but what he really means is he want to take us back to a time when only certain portions of the population had a say, reaped the benefits, and held all others down in the process.  He wants it to be a man’s world, a white world, a straight world, a wealthy man’s world, a world where only a few prosper on the backs of others and those “others”  have no say.  It was horribly wrong back then, even though they got away with it, but it is sinfully wrong today where women, people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, and  people of many religious convictions are finally getting recognized as what they are – citizens of the United States of America.  It is time to accept that we are all Americans and we all have rights according to our constitution (with amendments that spell it out). He will bully other nations too.  We don’t want or need that in a president.

Scarier still – the number of people who are rallying around this bully.  We knew there was systemic racism, though we hoped that it was changing for the better. Donald has revealed a deeply racist part of our society that has always been there but seemed to be decreasing.  He has revealed sexism, gender bias,  homophobia, and transphobia.  He espouses xenophobia.  He is a fear monger of highest degree.  He tells these people to be afraid, that all these factions are out to get them.  He goes to the core of their fears that they personally will not be able to thrive if any of THEM are allowed to thrive.

What is sad is that, contrary to that way of thinking, when we join together we can all thrive because we build each other up. Those at the top like the Billionaire GOP candidate benefit greatly from the rest of us fighting each other because if we are keeping each other down, the wealth flows to them. This is what Jesus fought for.  Recognition of the human being for everyone. Respect, care for basic needs, a voice, support for a decent life, where everyone could live healthy and productive lives. Do they really want a dictator?  I think they believe they will prosper with someone like this because they are like him but maybe that’s what Hitler’s followers believed.

This is so important for our country where we could be even greater if we cared for all our citizens.  If we stop blaming each other and trying to ban entire groups, we can come together to find those who mean to do us harm.  If we are fighting each other we play right into the hands of the real enemy.  Hatred spawns hatred.  Together we can fight terrorists, apart we are going to be victims of the same. Hatred will lead to more terrorist activity.  Love and care for one another make us stronger against all this negativity and able to help in the fight against terror.

I pray that we realize this.  What I heard at the RNC made me nervous and scared to my core.  What I heard at the DNC gave me hope.  It was good to hear that there are people who understand the real problems in the USA and are willing to move us in a direction that will help improve our lives.  Yes, OUR lives not just the few at the top but all of us.  I pray that those who are afraid of losing what they have if someone else gets what they need, will stop and think about it.  The biggest danger to middle class is the greedy 1%.  Believe me, they have no intention of sharing that with anyone.  Our greatest hope lies in our willingness to join together to build a stronger middle class, and make a way for poorest to enter into that.  Hold the richest among us to paying their fair share and participating in making the whole country better for everyone.  After all who needs a fourth jet or another villa when anyone in the country is hungry?  Seriously.  There is enough wealth in this country so that we don’t have to see anyone hungry or homeless, sick without care or suffering for lack of basic comforts.  When the Kochs (for example) can flitter away millions to buy elections, they can afford to pay more taxes to alleviate  the struggle for hard working people who just can’t make ends meet.  That’s just human decency.

 

Ferguson and More

It has been a while since my last post and there has been an outpouring of support for the African American community in Ferguson.  Many clergy have been participating in peaceful protests.  Today several members of the Eden Theological Seminary community took part in a protest in the pouring rain.  It resulted in several (I believe it was reported as 49) persons including activist and author Cornell West and my pastor being arrested for civil disobedience.  There was a concurrent Vigil held at the chapel on the seminary campus where we prayed in support of those at the protest and in the neighborhoods affected by shooting tragedies.  A second death of a young black man by multiple gun shots occurred this week.  Some colleagues who live in the area were involved in a prayer service and protest where there was violence.  We have been trying to process these events in our own back yard.

It is difficult to wrap your head around these kinds of events happening in the 21st century but the sad fact is that racism is alive and well. We have seen some definite progress but it isn’t enough.  There are too many persons for whom these events are common occurrences.  They don’t get the press that we’ve seen here but maybe it is time for another civil rights movement.  Maybe people are waking up to the fact that there are people in our country (the great United States of America) that are treated as expendable.  No, we are not talking about a 3rd world country we are talking about the USA. Institutionalized racism. systemic racism,  is so much a part of the fabric of our society that we often fail to even be aware of it.  It is a power inequality that leaves some having control of and benefiting from the wealth of our nation while others struggle to get by and are actively blocked from moving ahead.  While often unconscious, privilege is given to those with white or lighter skin while those with darker or black skin are treated as threats and made to suffer humiliation, disproportionate  scrutiny and simply poor disrespectful treatment, often for no other reason than the color of their skin.

There are many who just don’t get it and it is because they truly have no idea what it is like to live as a person of color in the society.  They don’t take the time to get to know anyone and simply choose to be afraid either because of media portrayal or because they have been told or taught to think this way, or perhaps because of one encounter with an unsavory character.  It isn’t about prejudice.  It is about the power that one group has over another because the society allows it.  That is systemic racism and it is ingrained, unseen unless carefully inspected.  My denomination has taken on the task of becoming a pro-reconciling, anti-racist church.  It is a slow moving process but we have training about white privilege that really helps people understand the real problem.  The problem is power.  In the past when a group of whites felt like it they might go out an lynch a black person or two.  The authorities did nothing about it and very sad scenes of people hanging from trees made other people of color terrified.  (Yes, acts of terrorism).  Now the lynching takes the form of our police officers accosting, harassing or shooting young black men at will, and getting away with it because the system allows it.  It is abuse of power. As a friend of mine said,  “It is a lynching of the spirit.”

I have been thinking about how there was that stop and frisk policy in New York, which has since been outlawed.  The officers claimed it was needed to keep crime down.  But the problem was that they only targeted minorities, It occurred to me that the simple solution to the problem, if it was truly a crime deterrent, was to randomize it  and  stop and frisk everyone.  Statistically more drug abuse and thus criminal possession occurs in white populations.  I’d bet the same is true of gun possession. But we all know how long that would last.  (Privilege)

I must stop now,  This is weighing heavy on my heart and I just wanted to write a bit of it down.  Perhaps I will write more later.  I will end with one of  the prayers I prayed today in the chapel:

O God of all, please enter the hearts of those involved in this terrible tragedy and all those who think like them. Break open the hardened hearts  to allow fear and dislike to flow out and  your love to fill them up.  Anyone who knows your love cannot help but love.  That is what is needed.  Love which leads to respect which leads to relationship and mutual care for one another.  Your love is powerful – help those haters to love.  Help those who feel disrespected and treated as if they have little value to turn there anger to energy to continue the fight and protest the injustice.  Bless those who walk alongside the Ferguson and Shaw communities and give them courage and strength to continue to work toward justice even when things seem impossible.  With you there is always hope.  Amen

HOLY WEEK

Palm Sunday ushers in Holy Week. It is a week that marks the center of the Church Year. It is the most sacred time of the year for me. I find myself thinking about the life of Jesus and the risks he IMG_0141atook to promote God’s view of the world where all are loved, all are precious and equal in the eyes of God. We all have differing gifts but we are each loved and cherished by the God who created us. Sharing that message in that time was dangerous because the power structure kept the poor at the bottom suffering greatly, while those at the top basked in glory with much wealth. The message is the same today. Here in the U.S. we run the risk of falling into that same social situation if we don’t remember to care for each other and for the poor in particular. My last post showed a dollar amount that could end poverty. I was astonished and while I realize it isn’t a simple task wouldn’t it be nice if people just thought about it. If in this week of remembrance of Jesus and his commitment to God’s desire for love in the world, we would try to think in that way – that God is wanting us to build up those who are hurting even if it requires sacrifice on our part? Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, we are only asked to sacrifice a little. It might make the celebration of Easter that much more bright, meaningful and real. Maybe we will be moved to action.