You know who doesn’t get along? Blacks and whites, right? You know who doesn’t get along? Gays and straights, right? You know who doesn’t get along? Christians and Muslims and Jews, right? You know who doesn’t get along? Democrats and Republicans and Independents, right? You know who doesn’t get along? Methodists, and Baptists, and Catholics, and Nazarenes, right? You know who doesn’t get along? Men and women and boys and girls and workers and bosses and owners and renters and wealthy and poor and First World and Two-Thirds World and Social Media Users and Social Media Trollers and Social Media Refusers and dogs and cats and snakes and spiders and apples and oranges and grass and dandelions and Wildcats and Jayhawks and Tigers and Huskers and greenhouse gases and ozone layers and carbon footprints and war and peace and presidential debates and campaign ads and anyone and millennials and baby boomers and gen x-ers, and well, everyone and anyone and no one who have opinions about everything, anything, and nothing.
Whew. Glad I got that off my chest.
So then it’s not white lives matter, or blue lives matter, or black lives matter or even all lives matter, maybe what we’ve unwittingly invested in a little too easily is: hating lives matters. Right? Is that the common thread by which we’re connected? Has my cynicism taken over my outlook? You know, just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get me. Snort. Sorry, couldn’t pass on that one.
Wow. Just. Wow. So much anger, so much frustration, so much blame, so much fear, just so much. A mom with two kids was killed, shot, in a road rage incident in the Kansas City area last week. So much rage directed at strangers, at wrong-headed neighbors, at “other”.
Our church, Grace UMC, is a voting place. They’re training poll workers as usual, only this time they’re emphasizing how to respond to violence or threats of violent incidents. Really? Our preschool is not in session that day, for safety reasons. REALLY? I mean I’m glad they’re not, but REALLY??? Is this the place we want to be in this chapter of our history? We’re all, including me, wanting to get away from the lack of authenticity that the now negatively termed “political correctness” seems to have created. But is this the way out of political correctness – cruel language and violent threats about those we have decided in their “differentness” are wrong, bad, threatening, and worthy of debasement, dehumanization and destruction verbally and/or physically?
Nope, I refuse to give in or give up about Jesus. And I choose to believe in the human heart and soul that breathes within each of us. And I choose to trust that when Jesus chose to name the two greatest commandments, he did so with purpose not only for his own time but for our time and all time:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NRSV)
I hope you’ll choose to listen to the spoken word poetry piece from Prince ea, the video at the head of this blog. Please listen to the end. He finds a way to universally name the way forward for all of us in these most conflicted times. He doesn’t shy away from naming the overwhelming nature of the complexity of challenges we face, and he also doesn’t shy away from naming the power he believes we each have to make a difference.
I was going to vote early. Many of my friends and colleagues are doing that and I think it’s smart, thoughtful, and helpful. AND, I decided today, I’m not going to. It’s my own little refusal to let the fear of possible violence keep me from standing in line on November 8 at my local voting station with people who probably get along with me and with people who probably don’t really get along with me and with people who probably get along a little with me and sorta not so much get along with me. And I will stand in line as a deep believer that God’s grace and love are far broader and deeper and wider and higher than any of our not-getting-alongness will ever be.
So I’ll see some of you at my voting station on November 8, and then some of you on November 9 as we continue to walk together as a nation in the process of a peaceful transfer of power and also meet parents and students and mentors preparing to start the Confirmation process, and I’ll see more of you on November 10 to start our Thursday morning Advent study and interview Candidates for United Methodist Ministry as a District, and more of you on November 11 and 12 for worship, and… see, we actually get to define our future by how we walk each day with one another before, during, and yes, even after… yes, even after.
So you know the pictures with which I have to close this week’s blog – illustrating that the assumptions made at the beginning of this blog are simply not always true…