When I was a child I dutifully read my history books in my well equipped school, in my 98% white community. I naively thought, "How could we as people allowed these atrocities, these horrible acts of violence and oppression to happen?" Then I breathed a naive white privileged sigh of relief because our culture, our society had the come to Jesus moment and now people of color had equality.
Then I grew up and I made friends and I listened and I got out of my comfort zone. As I grew, it began to hurt as I realized a few things in sheer HORROR:
1. I looked at my white arm and saw for the first time all the white privilege I was born with, that I couldn't just sweep under the rug, I couldn't wish away, that I have undoubtedly benefited from. Why wouldn't I want my privilege? Because I might be an idealist but I dream of a world with true equality and as long as my privilege exists equality does not! Alas I have it, I try to be aware of it, can I use it to bring equality? God I hope so and I pray I have the courage to do so.
2. The Bible which holds so much truth (different from fact) for me, was (and is) used to oppress and manipulate people. It is used to justify absolutely horrendous behavior and unspeakable violence. This book with a message of love one another, be the voice of the voiceless, and a radical lover of people named Jesus...
3. The one that took me the longest to realize and the one I find most horrific: For the most part it is no longer legal to segregate, to lynch, to discriminate, to keep slaves. So there we have it right? Equality. To my horror I began to realize that society had only changed a little, there were legalities that guaranteed equal opportunity, the right to vote and so forth. Yet injustice still lives and breathes in our culture. Only now, legalized racism, is a more covert operation of quiet systematic oppression and injustice that was until recently swept under the rug by those in power.
When I didn't think my heart could break anymore, it of course did. Do you know why? Because I started to see all the places in our country where systematic oppression exists. I worked in a food pantry, where I found that most people had no boot straps to pull on, and that the cycle of poverty is real and there isn't much help to break it. It is wrapped up in access to education, jobs with fair pay, health care, food, shelter, child care.
Then there is the oppression of my sisters and brothers who are LGBTQ who are denied the privilege of marriage, who face work place, and housing discrimination. Then there is the oppression of immigrants who are also my brothers and sisters, HUMAN BEINGS! Then there is the oppression of.... I could go on all day long.
So I ask today, how long? How long are we going to sit on our comfortable couches shaking our heads, hearts breaking, praying, as we watch the evening news like zombies? How many transgendered children have to kill themselves? How many gay men have to be beaten? How many riots does it take? When will we let our breaking hearts lead us? When we will stop saying "those people" and "they"? When will we recognize all people as human? When will we say there really is an unbalance of power? When are we going to stop waiting for Jesus to to turn the tables of our modern day temples? When will we heed the call, the call to LOVE, the call to be the voice for the voiceless?
Lest you think this is some political rant where I let my liberal flag fly, it is not. Lest you think this is me saying I am "anti-police", it is not. Lest you think this is me condoning violence, it is not. This is about faith for me and the life I am called to because I follow a radical lover called Jesus. Who taught a way of life that was not about righteousness or rules but about radical world changing love and justice. A message about power and powerlessness that was meant a revolution of the heart not the politics of the Roman empire (or any current empires).
The news isn't good this week as we watch yet another city burn, could the smoke be the cries we refuse to hear? Nepal has seen massive destruction. It is hard to find hope. I see it though in watching first hand the folks going before the supreme court today to fight for equality in marriage. I see it in my fellow clergy as they march for justice and peace.
HOW LONG BEFORE I HEAD MY OWN CALL TO OTHERS?