That path can never include utilizing the same practices of the oppressors. As Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye leaves a blind world." Or, as George Carlin so eloquently put it, "Trying to achieve peace through war is like trying to gain virginity by f**king." The only way to change a system is to act in the exact opposite way of the system.
There is a great Seinfeld episode where George realizes that his natural inclinations always lead to ruin. So, he decides to figure out what his natural response would be, and to do the exact opposite. That is how we should react to an unjust structure. If it's natural response is A, then we should do B.
We all have a choice. There are two songs that I think demonstrate this choice superbly. First, the Flobots song Handlebars.
Second, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song by the Flaming Lips (I love me some Flaming Lips!).
Why is it that humanity talks about peace and justice (heck, we use the term "humane" to define such things) yet we continue to try to use war and resource control to achieve them? This is what we've done our entire existence. Isn't a definition of insanity continuing in the same course of action yet expecting different results? Are we insane? Sometimes I think so, but people like Jesus, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, MLK Jr., Mother Teresa, and thousands of others have inspired us to greater heights. We must, must, must remember their examples whenever we come to the place where we are offered the choice to be humane or be cruel. Daily we are faced with two roads. Let this be said of us:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The path of peace and justice has historically been less traveled. Let us be a generation that tramples down the weeds which have become overgrown on that trail.
One of the roads we eventually spent some time on was US-50. At first, I didn't think much of it, but then I realized that Columbia Parkway and Wooster Pike in Cincinnati, my hometown, was US-50. I had lived in an apartment on Wooster Pike when I was growing up. That's when it hit me... the houses we were passing (over a thousand miles away) has sort of been my neighbors. I mean, we lived on the same street so didn't that make us neighbors? I was little tempted to stop and ask for a cup of sugar.
My world got a little smaller that day. I thought about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus affirms that to inherit eternal life, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind; and your neighbor as ourselves. But then the million dollar question comes... who is my neighbor? That road trip forced me to realize that anyone with whom I share space is my neighbor. Now, I can choose to limit the space to my home, my street, my community, my city, etc. However, being on that road and acknowledging that people a thousand miles away could be my neighbor challenged me to consider anyone and everyone my neighbor.
I believe that every human being is created in the Imago Dei, the image of God. Every single one of us has the fingerprint of the Eternal in our fragile bodies. If we can respond to each other with this in mind, we can truly begin to see God's "kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It may sound sappy, but it will work.
But what to do when we treat others this way, but they do not? Does that give us permission to deny the presence of God in them? No, it does not. Even when the Imago Dei in me is trampled upon, I must still respect, and even love, the reflection of the Almighty in my neighbor. Perhaps that willingness to love, even in the face of injustice, will win over the enemy.
This does not mean we love injustice! But we must love those who perpetrate such things. Gandhi loved his British oppressors. He knew, or rather believed with all his heart, that they would eventually see the error of their ways and grant self-government to India. He further knew that when that day came, it would be better for him and the movement he inspired to have dealt kindly, despite the fact that they were rarely afforded the same kindness, with their oppressors; for, one day they would have to deal with each other as equals, and Gandhi was building a future partnership and friendship with those he once might have seen as enemies.
It's amazing to me to consider having that type of hope for people I tend to deem as enemies. To think that they one day could be friends, and to choose to treat them as such even before they stop their cruelty, is a true mark of faith.
I give my heart to and allow my actions to pour out of my conviction that there has always existed, continues to exist, and will forever exist one God who is manifest in three distinct persons yet still a singular entity. This has traditionally been called the Trinity. It is both mysterious and revealed in my experience of this Lord, Master, and Lover of all. God has intermittently and dramatically intervened in human history and at the same time has allowed human choice to affect events past, present and future.
I commit myself to the first, but not premier, person of the Trinity, historically called the Father by name yet the gender-neutral Parent of all humanity and the Creator and Organizer of the universe in function. God has intermittently and dramatically intervened in human history and at the same time has allowed human choice to affect events past, present and future.
The most unique and sensational intercession by God was the incarnation of the second yet equal person of the Trinity in the entirely human and wholly divine person of Jesus of Nazareth, also called the Christ. Jesus is the Word and Wisdom of God enfleshed, the ramifications of which are that in him God enjoyed the complete human experience. He was born of a woman, a virgin at the time of his birth to demonstrate the remarkable and singular nature of the event, and matured into adulthood. Because of his ministry to the marginalized and outcast, inherently calling into question the unjust systems of the world, he acquired both devout disciples and avid enemies. He was eventually arrested by those with power, underwent a trial by the Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, and was sentenced to death.
The manner of his torture and execution – being whipped without mercy and nailed to a cross until he suffocated and died – caused him to suffer tremendously, allowing him to thoroughly empathize with an afflicted humanity. After a few days, by the power of the third, though living in cooperative and mutual interdependence with the other two, person of the Trinity, known as the Holy Spirit by name and acting as our divine comforter and companion in function, Jesus was raised from the dead. This event, called the resurrection, occurred in time and space. After 40 days, he ascended into heaven where he sits in harmonious relationship with the other two persons of the Trinity. His resurrection gives his followers hope for the future and his eventual return when his vision of a perfectly just Kingdom of God will come to fruition.
Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection served to reconcile humanity with God, each other, and creation as a whole. Human beings from the beginning of time have chosen to wallow in their perceived freedom only to discover that they have actually refused the gifts of God. However, through the work of Jesus, every person has the opportunity to experience redemption, allowing them to live in unity with God, one another, and all of creation. Though humans will never be perfect in this life, they are at once both sinners and saints. As they choose to permit God to work in them and through them, they will serve to bring about the coming Kingdom of God, and I so choose to trust in the work and victory of Jesus so that God may use me, and I may be in proper relation to my fellow human being.
God works in and through humanity by means of the Holy Spirit. Though the third person of the Trinity is the most difficult to comprehend, I fully acknowledge the Spirit’s presence and influence on my life. I also affirm that the Spirit desires believers to be in relationship with each other. This has historically been called the catholic, meaning one, church, and it consists of all believers throughout all time, whether still on Earth or awaiting their own resurrection.
I submit that there are many marks of a believer and true member of the church. They have been initiated through the sacrament of Baptism, they actively seek community with fellow believers by frequently meeting and participating in the sacrament of the Eucharist together, and they desire to live out the moral commands of God, expressed in both the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament. Together, these two testaments comprise an unequaled authority within Christianity, though it is imperative that these scriptures be interpreted within the community of believers so as to not corrupt their meaning or neglect the individual experiences of fellow followers of Christ.
Lastly, I commit myself to the hope of the goodness of God which will once again envelope all of creation. I may not see it happen in my lifetime, but I am convinced of its imminent arrival, which inspires me to live as though it is already here and to work for its realization.
I will post my rough draft later today.
Needless to say, I am a single-payer kind of guy. I understand many disagree with me, and that is fine. I can appreciate the validity of the other side's argument. I simply see this situation differently than they do. I believe that free and universally available health care is fundamental to a stable society. When we have such disparity in the quality of medical care based on things such as income, race, geographical location, etc., enormous segments of society become disenfranchised. This will eventually lead to protests and uprisings. However, in the short run it has already led to many "working the system" and passing the costs onto others. I believe that a society has the inherent quality of looking out for the well-being of each other. If we don't do that, especially on something as fundamental as whether someone lives or dies, then we are simply a bunch of individuals who happen to share space. We can be better than that, and universal health care is a significant step in that direction.
Unfortunately, that is not what happened, and I have been frustrated.
But a quote from Oscar Romero reminded me that though we may not see the desired end result, steps in the right direction are good as well. Here is the quote:
If you aren't familiar with Romero, you should be. To our society's detriment, this is what many people think of the Archbishop's worth:
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Don't Mess With Textbooks|
It is amazing how stupid some people can be, and it saddens me that often, stupid people seek power while intelligent people do not. I don't know why that is. Maybe stupid people are insecure and political office (or simply being on any committee that has influence over people) helps them feel better about themselves. Not sure. But, I do know that, based on this story, the Texas Board of Education is full of idiots.
Romero reminds me that fighting for what's right means that I will be constantly frustrated. This is why small steps in the right direction must be celebrated. So, even though I wish health care reform had gone much further, I celebrate the fact that 30million of my fellow members of society will have access to affordable heath insurance, thus providing them with the basic care that we all deserve.