Tag Archives: Justice

What should our nation be?

Hello. I am finally emerging from a place of despair. It has been quite a while since I last posted and the worst possible outcome for the election has occurred.  I could not have in my wildest imaginings predicted this outcome.

Our new president is so unfit for office yet a large enough number of people came out and voted for him that we are stuck with him and praying wholeheartedly that he will not destroy the country.  I cannot believe that people in the United States would not take the time to vote, would choose not to vote, or honestly thought Donald Trump would be okay in the highest office.  So far, he has done some crazy things.  He stands for only a few of the people of the country without regard to the rest of us. He even has betrayed those who voted for him.

I was truly in despair for a while but have focussed my energy on forms of resistance, care for others and limiting my “news” input.  There is such potential for damaging our country and taking steps backward in our progress.  It is encouraging that so many are engaging in peaceful forms of resistance.  There is serious dialogue about some of the most important challenges facing our nation.  Conversations about race and gender and injustice are far more frequent and meaningful.  The election of Donald trump may have in fact exposed some very deep injustices that have up until now been ignored.

The big question now should be what do you want your nation to be?  We can be a country which values all of its people or one that continues to enrich a small number at the expense of everyone else.  We can be a country that respects human dignity and sees all of its citizens as human beings wanting the same things for themselves and their children or we can continue to dismiss segments of society.  We can be a nation that supports a clean green world, even as we have to come to grips with the fact that we are responsible for the state we are in or we can continue polluting and denying the problems.  We can honor our constitution and hold that all citizens of the US have rights, including basic needs to support life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or we can throw it out the window and treat some as expendable to provide a luxurious life for a few.

I would like our country to be a model to the world.  We have great resources. We should be a nation that excels in caring for our people. A place where hatred does not exist. We can call others out on human rights violations when we discontinue that here. We are great innovators, producers, manufacturers and developers.  We can reach great heights without diminishing others.  It would be great to see our economy flourish from bottom to top.  If our “poor” are still able to have a decent life, the wealthy can continue to build business and succeed.  But until there is no poverty in the U.S.  it is sinful for individuals and corporations to amass such wealth as is unusable. True positive Power comes from using wealth to improve the world.  Many in power now only horde wealth, or squander it.  There is so much potential for the United States.  I will continue to pray for a miracle – change of heart so that all people of our nation realize that when all are cared for, all of us benefit.  It would be a miracle if each person saw themselves as part of the human family and not as an entitled one.  I pray!

A PRAYER FOR OUR NATION

Oh God in Your mercy free us from ourselves.
Let us love.  Let hatred leave our thoughts.
Let forgiveness come to us and from us.
Open our hearts wide to embrace rather than shun.
Open our minds to understand that we are all human beings with needs.
Open our hands
To let go of some things that control us and
To grab on to things that make the world a better place
Open our mouths to speak the truth to ignorance and injustice
To give voice to those who currently have no voice
To encourage others to care
To offer words to uplift and support and not diminish or shame
Open our ears and eyes
To see the needs
To hear those who cry out for help
To witness the good in the world and make known the cruelties
To acknowledge and accept people in their desire to live their life freely
O Holy One, give us a sense of self worth that dictates our treatment of others.
Let us live our lives as if we know that each action matters
Let us behave as if every life on earth matters
And Let it explode throughout humanity
AMEN

 

The Church is Changing

We are in the process of rethinking who we are as church in our congregation. The transition period is a little unnerving for a woman who likes structure. I have been praying a lot in these many months. I’m trying to discern where God wants me in this. As is always the case, when I pray there is hope and a sense of well being in me. It is still uncomfortable but I know God is present and active and I trust that I will be called where I will grow.
So, that was not enough, the region has decided to undergo a complete transformation as well. Here is one way I am being called to act. I have taken on some leadership at this level. It is a bit uncertain as well but I am trusting that I was led this direction for a reason.
I just returned from General Assembly and guess what? The entire denomination is beginning a transition. The writing is on the wall and we are at a place where we either change or die. WOW!
In every case the movement is away from a corporate model to a model much more like the beginning of our Christian movement. I mean WAYYY back when people were gathering who still knew the person Jesus or his disciples.
I am all for that kind of thinking. It pains me to see what some people do in the name of Jesus. They act like they have never read the Bible or heard the stories of Jesus’ ministry on earth. The man was passionate about justice, about caring, about equality and about living a life filled with love. If we can get ourselves out of the confines of the church building we might find that living a life that is truly Christ-like is actually easier than we thought. He said love one another. If we take that to heart we can change the world.

God Bless Those Who Work Toward Peace and Justice

I am so grateful for all those who stand alongside those who are marginalized for one reason or another. It is not an easy place to be. It takes a lot of courage to get outside your own protected box and help those who are not so protected. Injustice is often veiled/masked in a way that you miss it unless you look hard at it. In our happy little world where we have what we need and more we can completely be unaware that there are many who are hungry, homeless, working poor, or ignored. While most people in the US have enough to eat etc, there are still many who struggle to have all basic needs met, like food AND medicine AND job security AND a decent safe place to live.  Choices have to be made and quite frankly I think it is horrible to have to do that in a country as rich as ours. Before someone says anyone can “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” let me tell you that that phrase is nonsensical. You can’t. There are systems in place (racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist) that make it hard for people to ever escape from poverty, or have the luxury to just relax about life from time to time.  So, thank you to all those who are working to make a difference, who are trying to move our country into the 21st century, who think lives matter. Thanks for helping those who are struggling to help themselves, thank you for standing beside them. Thank you for helping those whose voices are not heard.  Thank you for supporting those who are are saying enough is enough, we are tired of fighting these systems.   The work is hard and can be so frustrating but as we inch toward real justice and yes, though it seems glacial at times, it is really the work of love and compassion. Peace is possible. Justice for all is possible, but love must be the basis for this. We have to love one another and remember that if some of us suffer and we do nothing about it, we are all the worse for it. Equality does not mean we all have the same stuff. It means we are all valued as human beings and that we all respected for who we are.  Children of God.

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