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.

Racism. What Is That?

When I see Confederate battle flags fervently flaunted I can’t help but to judge harshly. I try to live my life with “assume positive intent” as a guiding principle but I can’t get past the presumptive “fuck you” as the intent of displaying such a deplorable icon. The Confederate battle flag had all but disappeared from post Civil War America with the exception of Mississippi adopting it into their state flag in 1894. I guess the bigotry of the deepest of southern states was ahead of its time. The revival of the flag began in the 1950’s and the beginnings of the civil rights movement. It served as a symbol for white supremacy to Dixiecrats who abhorred the idea that all men are created equal. It is not a symbol of states rights or southern pride unless you believe racism is something to cherish and be proud of.

We like to talk of American exceptionalism like it’s a badge of honor but I don’t think we truly understand that exceptionalism in and of itself holds no particular positive connotation. “Exceptionalism is the perception that a species, country, society, institution, movement, individual, or time period is “exceptional” (i.e., unusual or extraordinary) in some way.” (Google) We truly are exceptional in the way we salivate at the suffering of those who don’t qualify as being like us, and those who have values or priorities unaligned with our own. The proliferation of white supremacy under the Obama and Trump administrations is alarming. This proliferation under each administration is fueled by separate but equally disturbing motivations. The former being intolerance of a black president. The latter of leadership that campaigned on the rejection of diversity.

What is that? What short sighted comfort can be found in the hatred of others based upon the color of their skin? By its very nature bigotry rises like bile in the throats from which we draw breath and take nourishment. Hatred invokes the stress of fight or flight and stands in the way of enlightenment and peace. The deliberate discrimination of others, founded in irrational fear, Group 5 fists hold closely togetherserves no purpose in our values of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. It robs us of the opportunity to align with the universe, our creator, or any justification you might ascribe to the meaning of life. Bigotry robs us of the most sacred sense of our humanity. Man alone is not equipped to have survived the cruel selection of evolution. It was by working together and our sense of community that we were able to shield ourselves from harsh elements and superior predators. And whether you subscribe to evolution or creationism there is no denial that our linage ties back to a common origin. Think about that.

My prayer is that this festering growth of white supremacy and bigotry would abate and be abolished in our lifetime. I pray that those who’s lives are less than they hoped for would let go of the idea that their plight in life is anything other than the way they see themselves. You can never find peace, joy or happiness with hatred in your heart. After all, I’m sure that peace, joy and happiness is all any of us really want in this life. Change begins in our own hearts and by standing up to oppression whenever we encounter it. This is on us. We can do better.

Photo credit, Time Magazine

My Problem With Christians.

I used to begin every day praying that God would help me be the kind of man He wanted me to be. I prayed that people might see something different in me which that perhaps might cause them to contemplate their own relationship with God. I didn’t want to have to be the one to talk about it, mind you. I merely hoped to be some sort of subliminal messenger. And that seemed to work well for me for quite a few years. I used that prayer to hold myself accountable many times.
It’s not working anymore.
I don’t mean that I’ve quit talking with God or that I don’t hold IMG_0073myself accountable. I’m just not sure I’m interested in being a recruiter for Christianity anymore. There’s the age old “horrible things man does in the name of religion” thing but that never bothered me so much. At least not so much in that I couldn’t deflect the notion with evidence of the evolvement of man and civilization. It’s just that the current co-branding of Christianity and the conservative right have caused me to not really like Christians anymore. They aren’t nice and that’s a problem. Oh sure they’re great if you venture into their arena on their terms but let’s be honest. If you are gay, atheist, Muslim, even black or Hispanic the message of inclusion isn’t exactly the first thing you’d notice.
I’m not condemning Christians as having lost their way. Maybe it’s me. My embrace of progressive values has earned me numerous back channel messages quoting scriptures and imploring me to repent. They like that old “iron sharpens iron” quote but can’t seem to consider the Beatitudes. Christianity has a big problem right now. As long as they focus on building walls, denying sanctuary, feeling persecuted for baking gay wedding cakes and denying health-care to people who can’t afford it they can’t be my people. And I guess people never really had anything to do with my original prayer anyway. Dear God, help me to be the kind of man that You want me to be. I’ll leave the rest up to You.

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