Must I Love A Racist?

Love is a strong word. I’m constantly being reminded that I need to love racists. I’m being reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s words, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” It seems that it always falls on the compassionate, the thoughtful and the progressive to carry the burden of reconciliation. IMG_0167
You know what? That’s hard and I’m tired. I’m tired because those little white men who claim they have been left behind, who claim they are forgotten think anyone who doesn’t look like them stole their opportunity. They blame their failed ambition on anyone but themselves. I’m tired because the political ideology that wields the sword of personal accountability for everyone else hasn’t found the courage to confront the disenfranchised white male; thereby affording them shelter. But hey, a vote is a vote.
So once again it falls on weary but kind hearted people who cling to the hope that it is still true that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness applies to everyone. Everyone. It is not a principle assigned to white privilege. It never was and it is up to all of us to ensure it never will be. I know you are tired. I know you are angry but now is not the time to sink to the level of depravity that we face.
The fuller context of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s words are:
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Now is the time to hold that legacy near.

Trump Support Remains Steady

Are you dumbfounded as to how Donald Trump can possibly maintain the support of his white working class voters? He has. As we watch Trump’s cabinet picks line up to dismantle nearly every institution that safeguards American exceptionalism we keep waiting for the Trump voter to be “woke”. I’m not going to bullet point how the repeal of the ACA disproportionally harms his base or how diverting money from public schools to for-profit tuition based enterprises will disadvantage their children. IMG_0074There is no need to itemize the cost of selling out clean air and water in favor of heavy industry profits. I needn’t explain how the planetary destabilization that has occurred as the light of Lady Liberty has been extinguished to hopeful and desperate refugees around the world. The setbacks to our sense of justice, human rights and income disparity are alarming. The details of such are readily available on every news feed.

Progressive thinkers are mind blown that the expectation of the Trump administration’s fall from grace hasn’t happened. I don’t think it will. Our political ideologies are too entrenched. Conservative media consumers have been conditioned to think the essence of their condition are the fault of a society built with the underlying belief that equal opportunity must abound. Without government intervention an individual stands little chance of striving toward the American dream if it conflicts with powerful interests or the homogenous values which they find themselves separated. We are ships that have long since passed in the night.

But what is it really that holds such a tight grip on those who want to make America great again? What drives those who seem incapable of accepting that the strength and beauty of diversity and inclusion includes them? How do they not recognize that regulations are necessary because capitalism is an economic system, not a values system? How is it that so many are willing to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater because policies protecting some don’t align perfectly with their values? Before we can address the current conservative ideology we need to first consider how unwilling many Trump voters really are to engage with us and consider our point of view. When you read the comments on news feeds, visit social media or listen to call in shows one thing is clear. Many Trump voters are so thrilled that liberals find themselves in anguish that they can’t even begin to consider what the dismantling of the protections and safety nets our government afford will mean to them.

When we are reminded elections matter, oh do we know it, or are told to quit whining and move on we need to consider how our message is being heard. Trump voters are ecstatic with their victory and presumption that it was a rejection of liberal ideals. They should be happy they won. They are fools to assume the latter. Regardless of the challenges we face in the coming years we must persist in confidence that all that we stand for supports a better world for all of us, including our political rivals. They don’t have to ever say it but I hope one day they will appreciate it.

The Pros & Cons of Extraversion.

To say I’m an extrovert would be an understatement. My family hasn’t really told me how they feel about that. I’m sure there have been some cringe worthy moments over time.  I’m also confident my outgoing nature has produced some warm memories as well. It is almost as if I just can’t not engage people who come across my path. Sunday was such an example.
We were walking through one of the img_4864
Smithsonian gardens when I overheard two ladies behind us exclaim, “Isn’t that beautiful?” Not missing a beat I spun and inquired, “Are you talking about me?” the ladies burst into laughter and replied, “Oh yes! How did you know?” I was delighted beyond measure. The problem with engaging random people in public is that you never know what might happen. They weren’t done with me yet. I had met my match. They continued with a few more cajoling comments. “Oh yeah, he’s so fine.” And then, all the while invitingly laughing, “Looky there, I believe that boy gained a little pep in his step!” and her friend replied, “I do believe he is fully an inch taller!” And my family joined in their laughter. My work there was done.
img_4865The next engagement I subjected my family to on this day did not go so well. An innocent enough, “Hey, how ya doing?” was met with an all-out profane and manic diatribe about all the racists up around here and that he wasn’t gonna take it anymore. He continued to tell us he was going to kill some people if things did not change. Ya know… I didn’t really know what to do with that. Naturally the first thing I did was make sure I was between this man and my wife but I didn’t know what to say. I’m not sure that saying anything wouldn’t have made things worse. My daughter eventually asked the man to have a good day and we continued about our way. An awkward silence weighed heavy among us.
This man was in obvious pain. I could see it in his eyes. Perhaps there was nothing that could be done, by me, for this man. Maybe there was. My assumption is that professional mental health services were required. At the time the volatility of this man motivated me to separate him from my family.img_4867
Today the memory of the look in the eyes of that man haunts me. I know that I can’t personally take on the challenge of every suffering soul in the city. And yet I worry about how that understanding, that there was nothing I was willing to do at that moment, might cause me to do less than I could. Less than I should. People are talking a lot of being “woke” these days. I have some skills that can be employed to hopefully ease the burden some at risk people may face on a daily basis. It’s time to find a cause and put some time and treasure back into my community. This being an extrovert can be a lot of work.

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