Please, Don’t Just Pray.

If you keep up with politics, especially Civil Rights issues, you have probably heard that Charlotte, NC, is convulsing with pain, righteous anger, and guilty fear.

There are many articles online about this. Here are two links to help you find out the basics.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-police-idUSKCN11R1GS

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/21/494844130/after-police-shooting-protesters-in-charlotte-n-c-shut-down-interstate

I implore you, please don’t just pray. Please don’t light candles before going about your day. Don’t post a comment that your friends will respond to with support or disagreement until tomorrow comes.

Don’t sweep it under the rug. Don’t fret for a day and then forget that a large percentage of our nation lives with this everyday. Don’t throw your hands in the air and say, “There is nothing I can do. I don’t make any difference.”

Only we can make a difference. All of us, acting together, can make a difference.

DO something.

For the sake of all you love, the lives of all you care about. For whatever gods or truths you follow. Do something.

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper asking community leaders to gather, more than once, and begin a process to bring the community together in peace. Follow up on their response. Be a little pushy if they don’t respond. Let the paper know there was no response. If some respond, make sure the paper gets that information too.
  • Write a blog post that shares actual news, not speculation or editorials. Use the basic old-style journalism rule: always have three unbiased sources. Invite community leaders, from all local communities, to post practical do-able suggestions. Let them be a little pie-in-the-sky. Hope and idealism are not bad things. Try to get people to read as much as they write; we must do both to learn anything new.
  • Speak in front of your church, civic, professional, or other groups about the need to acknowledge that there are problems. Offer to organize a group to discuss how your institution can proactively do something to reach across the divide. Consider inviting other groups to get involved. There is power in numbers. Whether it is simply releasing a statement of support; inviting people whose opinions, however difficult to hear, need to be heard; or creating a study group to consider offering scholarships and jobs to people, it is a first step. Take it.
  • Volunteer for a group that tries to bring justice and hope to everyone, because this trauma will only stop when we show love through our actions towards all people. Be especially alert to opportunities to bring people who don’t look alike or worship at the same places or live in the same parts of town under one roof.
  • Break bread. It may seem old-fashioned, but sharing a meal is a strong tool to overcoming fear and bias. In all of this, listen more than you speak.
  • Vote. Pick a candidate who supports peace, respect, and social justice among all people. Vote for that candidate.

I am weary of our lonely fearful reactions to others. I am tired of being asked to pray for those whose blood was spilled needlessly. I need to be able to read the news without wanting to scream.

I want peace. I am willing to work for it.  I don’t know what will help, but something’s got to give.

 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Choosing A Candidate for President

One of the things that is getting lost in this either/or campaign is the reason we vote.

Elections allow us to choose someone who, we believe, has the capacity to understand our needs, our aspirations, and our daily existence. We choose people we think will honor their commitments to represent our wishes, not those of their biggest donors or their own to be in a powerful political position forever.

Neither of the two mainstream candidates seems trustworthy. Neither has anything in common with the vast majority of citizens in this country. Neither seems to live in the current century, appearing ignorant of the pitfalls of online apps that spread rude, threatening, or vulgar asides globally in less than a minute. Both seem oblivious to the security risks of online activity. Both apparently believe insulting half the electorate will give them more than half of the votes. Both fail the ‘birds of a feather’ test, choosing rich oligarchs or corrupt politicians as associates. One foments hatred and violence. One promises the same incremental change that has left our nation stagnant for decades, if not a century or more, while we are dying “not with a bang, but a whimper.”

Our right to vote is sacred but it is under attack.

Asking us to let fear choose our candidate, asking us to ignore the reality we have experienced for decades while our parties make promises that are never kept, and asking us to do what we are told despite our own better judgment are all insulting.

Telling us to be ‘realistic’ when all of our experience highlights how little we matter to any political party or candidate assumes we are too uneducated to know what is in our best interest. In truth, the candidates don’t shy away from calling us too ignorant to know what is best for us. In truth, they describe us as ‘deplorable’ if we prefer one set of promises to another.

Telling us that this is not the time to be ‘idealistic’ begs the question, “When is the time?”

Telling us to once again elect a candidate we have no reason to believe cares about us is at best rude and insulting. At worst, it shows callous disregard for our desire, our desperate need, for rapid genuine change in direction.

We need a leader, someone who is willing to be an outcast, as most of us experience our nation. We need someone willing to stand up for change, not constantly compromise on matters of importance, such as income, poverty, healthcare, education, and freedom to pursue the lives we wish to have so long as we do not prevent others from accessing the same freedom. We need a leader who understands that they are in the employment of the people and must promote the general welfare, not support the greed and arrogance of a handful of crude and hateful people who, like the proverbial camel, could easier pass through the eye of a needle than enter the kingdom of God.

Like many, I have no idea what can be done. Our mainstream parties have lost their way.

I will vote for all state and local offices. I have no idea what I will do about the presidential office. I think many people feel the same way.

Democracy

“Democracy is when the indigent,

          and not the men of property,

                    are the rulers.”

                                                        –Aristotle