I Believe In Us

Posted on 2 Jun 2017 in Home | 0 comments

I believe in us.
I mean that. The last 9 months have felt like a train wreck for a number of those in my circles. People have felt threatened – have experienced personal violence and attacks because of the current political climate. We’ve watched the violence and hatred increase, and it seems like all of the most disgusting and vile things in our country are coming to the light like an infestation of cockroaches. I have never been more astonished by what I’ve seen in the political arena than I have been since November.
And yet…
I believe in us.
I don’t think it’s about Making America Great Again – because we already are pretty great. And I definitely don’t think it should be America First – because we have so much, and are already at the top, and Jesus tells us that the first should be last and the last should be first. I think those are inherently flawed and self-centered ideologies that are bringing to light the base selfishness and individualism of our culture.
And yet…
I believe in us.
In high school, I studied the Vietnam Era extensively – I was fascinated by the turmoil of our nation, heart-wrecked by the senseless violence and the death of a generation in a war that seemingly had no point… and which in all compelling senses of the word, we lost. I remember sitting in class, and feeling my heart transform to pacifism as we watched the collateral damage in a post-Iraq War setting. And I read more than I imagined possible on the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, and the women’s rights movement. I began to understand that our country makes incredible leaps forward and then hits the snap-back of progress too quickly, because our people are good, but selfish – it’s built into our rugged individualism and the belief that we pulled ourselves up by our own boot straps. I remember being astonished at the violence that our people were capable of as I read about the brutality of white supremacists, and read Takaki’s A Different Mirror to learn about the history of those on the underside of the spotlight of our textbooks. But I saw the movement forward out of those troubled times. Even in the tail end of the Cold War, I saw the wall come down and hope begin to shine in the eyes of people that their children wouldn’t be under threat of nuclear extinction anymore. We are facing that threat once again in our world – not least from our own administration.
And yet…
I believe in us.
In grad school, I studied WW2 in what seemed like the year of the Sho’ah. I was immersed in the literature of Christians and ideologues who rationalized away the rampant anti-Semitism that provided a fertile playground for Hitler to rise and the Third Reich to thrive. I learned about the way that fascists multiply like mushrooms in the dark, fetid environment of fear and antipathy. And I dwelt in the realm of peace-building and hope, even as I was stoned in Palestine, and struck by the violence and despair on my visit to Israel. I read up on the McCarthy era, and the tribunals, and then the rise of the Religious Right and its peculiar orientation towards racism and more fear. And I have read about the worst in humanity. And honestly, as any historian will tell you, we are replicating that dank, dark, fetid environment of antipathy and fear that provide fertile ground for fascism and violence.
And yet…
I believe in us.
We’re looking at a very real ecological apocalypse, just as it seemed we were in the 80s and 90s with horrific pollution and air quality that left thousands battling respiratory conditions and illness. And now we are removing those very ecological protections and withdrawing ourselves from a world-wide endeavor to protect this beautiful planet that we live on.
And yet…
I believe in us.
I was driving the other day with my daughter, and the song “This Land is Your Land” came on my radio station. I was struck by the greatness of this song, as hippie-dippie as some of you may find it. Because from sea to shining sea, we belong to each other. We survived the McCarthy Era. We decided enough was enough. We survived the Vietnam Era and made policy changes to protect our people. We changed our ways and began a process of nuclear disarmament. We moved forward. We moved towards each other.
I look around me at a generation of young people (yes, those continually cursed and shamed Millennials) who are literally glistening with hope and desire for authenticity and community. Who are building bridges when others built fences. I am looking at people in the older generation who are changing their ways, owning their own racism and bigotry and trying to be better. I am watching a movement of millions of people willing to fight for a Brand New Congress or the Move To Amend. I am watching people refuse to allow fear and hatred to win – and even give their lives, saying “Tell everyone on this train that I love them.”
I believe in us.
I am watching God do a new thing as the infestation is brought to light so that the Good in the earth can rise up and bring the Tikkun Olam that is so desperately needed.
I don’t think our government is heading in necessarily a healthy or helpful direction – and I know many of you in the UK feel the same way. But fundamentally, at the core, I see the good in you. And I can see the good in the people who think that they are protecting themselves and their loved ones – even as they place their faith in the Kingdom of Fear rather than the Kingdom of Heaven and Shalom.
But I believe in us.
We have found our way in the darkness before, and there are beautiful people trying to lead us out, who are trying to move us back towards faith and hope and love.
There are those who have a compass of hope and light and love who are guiding us forward – if we can only find them and listen to them with humility and hope.
I believe in us.
Friends, as dodgy as it feels, and as much as you might feel inclined to hate those “on the other side” or hold them in contempt, remember that this fuels the wrong spirit. We will never move out of the darkness until we acknowledge the darkness that we each carry and commit to bringing it into the light to be restored with life and love.
Not only do I believe in us…
In our capacity to build, to bloom, to nurture, to restore, to bring life back to these broken cities and lives, in our ability to thrive in community and create a different world for our children.
But I believe in you.

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