this season of yearning

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In this season of spring–newness, brightness–I’m reminded of the metaphor embedded into the very seasons.

From death can come life. Renewal. Rebirth.

And in the world right now, we need it. There is much we can be afraid of–and yet there is opportunity to work for a future in which a contagious, unwavering hopefulness emanates–from me. . . from you . . . for us.

This hope is both a promise and a remembrance that broken doesn’t have to stay broken; hate doesn’t necessarily prevail; sorrow can dissipate with a new morning. And in nature, a profound truth resides, as poignant as ever: that a future does come, even when all has been laid bare. And in that future, we recover. We rise. We grow.

We don’t have to be the same.

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a post in which i should do something else but will instead contemplate my anger

I am angry.

Anger is divisive, but it means something matters. Anger acted upon in unethical ways leads to atrocity. Anger funneled into productive means? Is it possible that it leads to progress? To action that is right?

What major movement against injustice was NOT fueled by a deep-seated anger? I think of the non-violence movement abroad and within our own country. Those movements came because people finally said that the horrors were too great to bear. And thus, out of anger, movements were spawned of non-violence, movements of love. From anger, actions of love. Actions of hope. Actions of change.

Thus, a paradox.

Can activism ever come without anger? Perhaps it’s the narrowness of our definition of anger. . . perhaps it’s because of the negative connotation due to the various abhorrent behaviors that often stem from anger. . . however, it seems to me that perhaps the most potent and world-changing efforts are when righteous anger thus feeds right action. Upstanding action. Love-of-people action.

I don’t think it’s the input–anger is a human emotion that occurs when something repulses us. And there is much in the world deserving of repulsion.

The answer lies in the output. Anger that feeds self-serving, degrading, abusive, and unethical behavior is reprehensible. Anger that feeds injustice-opposing, unifying, truth-seeking, and community-serving behaviors is ultimately what, I believe, allows for the possibility of genuine, positive change.

 

 

mob rule and that great American future

Majority rule, right? But doesn’t that mean ignorance or hate or racism or evil might just rule–as long as that’s popular?

And how does a minority battle against mob ignorance?

Truth.

For today, just for fun, a couple truths:

 

1. Ignorant people don’t know as much as informed people.

I know, I know. This one hurts. The fact of the matter is that those who are ignorant don’t–can’t–know that they are ignorant. Their voices, however, can sometimes be quite a bit louder than others who may be more knowledgeable–and have thus learned a little humility. Inside, those more learned individuals might at times want to revert to their animalistic instincts to debase, rage, and silence.

What’s the trouble here? Democracy. But let me continue. . . what’s the solution? Umm, democracy. You see, we all have an equal right to have opinions, to act on them, and to even share those opinions. But we don’t all have the best context from which to generate these opinions. That’s a fact. Education in and of itself is an elitist concept. You don’t need a formal education, but you do need to know something about the world in order to have anywhere near to even semi-accurate ideas about it. The elitist part of education harkens back to the fact that those who don’t know things by definition don’t know that they don’t know. And how do you battle that?

Well, with education.

I know at this point, many of you may be thinking–Oh, OK. Indoctrination. That’ll work. While I would agree that a dogmatic approach to teaching is troublesome, I would argue that it’s not actually teaching. It is, as you say, indoctrination–a bad thing. In the history of teaching, there have often been pupils who veer drastically away from their teachers’ perspectives, sometimes even becoming the direct opposition. In the history of ideas, growth comes from encouraging an open exchange of ideas from diverse groups of people.

One thing, however, is vital: participation.

We don’t combat ignorance by calling people ignorant, discounting their ideas, and somehow forcing our own upon the masses; we combat ignorance by welcoming people to a table of open discussion, responding in civility when confronted with hostility, and remaining strong in the belief that human beings deserve a voice–and they deserve an opportunity to have a voice informed by more than inherited or learned rhetoric.

 

2. There are irreparable mistakes.

Yeah, we can learn from the past, but we shouldn’t trivialize the possibility of mistakes. As a society, we can really mess up. For those of you who thought this might not be political, well, sorry. Being human means being political. As a nation, we vote in a million different ways every day. We vote with our dollars, with our internet clicks, with our video stream, with our clothing choices, with our degree choices, with our course enrollments, with our car selections–these things matter. Consequently, thinking about such decisions matters.

American society harbors tons of power. We don’t often recognize it as such, but just like in a general election, each individual vote matters. So the little things–the actions that go unquestioned–matter.

And if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.

Let’s not forget that we really can mess up big time. Think back on history to something that you just can’t imagine how we as human beings allowed to happen. The Holocaust of WWII is an example–one which has acquired symbolic status as proof that a dominant rhetoric can lead to the presence of dark, horrific atrocity.

Broadly, this atrocity is often masked and fomented by ignorance; narrowly, it is implemented and justified by ignorance.

Yes, we can learn from the Holocaust–but we shouldn’t have to. It should never have happened. And so, let’s think: what are the major mistakes on the horizon? I suppose it all depends on who you ask. Well, this is my post–and you’re reading it–so I’ll pretend that you asked me.

And because I can, I’ll even put it as Truth #3.

 

3. Donald Trump is one of the scariest things to come along in awhile.

WAIT. He’s going to make America GREAT again, right?!? That sounds just like what we need. Except. . . except. . . what the HELL does that mean? Check it out in the dictionary–it can mean a lot of things, all of which are essentially positive, but overall, pretty vague. So to give further definition, let’s look at the context–how about starting with the “great” man who would somehow lead us back to “greatness.” Hmmm.

A womanizer. Ignorant translation: He knows what he wants. He deserves it. And he gets it!

A sexist. Ignorant translation: He’s a straight-shooter. Forget political correctness–women are obviously subpar, and it shouldn’t be a crime to treat them as such.

A billionaire. Ignorant translation: Doesn’t matter how he got his money–he got money! Lots of it! He can totally get me some money!

A casino mogul. Ignorant translation: MONEY. (I’ve either never heard of prostitution, drug abuse, gambling addiction, drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, etc.–or I’m just OK with NOT connecting the dots so I can continue thinking that casinos are a squeaky-clean industry in which to operate. Oh, and naturally, the Donald would never take a dime of money earned in an underhanded way. [And if he did, I guess I don’t want to know about it.])

A total perv. Ignorant translation: What? His daughter Ivanka is HOTT. I mean, I’d sleep with her–can we really fault the Donald for his sexual fixation?

An ass. Ignorant translation: In the spirit of fighting political correctness, Donald is redeeming our right to insult anyone we want. He’ll not only tell the American people how it is, he’ll also tell world leaders–and I can’t wait to see the look on Putin’s face when Donald lets him have it. I’m expecting cuss words and then the bomb. It’ll be great!

A Christian.”  Ignorant translation: See? I don’t have to feel guilty. This means that he’s, like, moral and all. It must be righteous indignation–the evils are so bad that they warrant such behavior. I’ll be a Christian on Sunday and a Trump supporter all the time–because, well, there’s NO conflict there. Jesus would TOTALLY be for Trump. . . so I’m for Trump! It’s so good to be a Christ-follower. And if I’m learning anything from my co-believer and presidential candidate, I think it means I get to call women dogs. That’s in, wait, what book? Two Corinthians something? Isn’t right next to that one verse–the one that says something about the whole Christian ball game?

An arrogant ass. Ignorant translation: Wasn’t it so cool when Donald said he could shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose any supporters? That reminds me of so many great men who had the absolute blind loyalty of their followers. Like Adolf Hitler. He inspired a nation. Such success. He worked tirelessly to make Germany great again–no political correctness for him. His followers were loyal and true, too. They never wavered in devotion, no matter the task. And, wow, that’s the kind of loyalty Trump is so excited about. A sign of good things to come. Wait–I mean GREAT things to come (because that words has so much inherent meaning! And I’m totally onboard for whatever it means–and at whatever cost!).

A racist. Ignorant translation: Trump is showing us who’s really at fault! SEE–it is actually the fault of the people group that we’ve been exploiting. Let’s build a wall. (I’m guessing then we can traffic people in as slaves or something and still get the economic benefit but with even less visibility into the atrocities. SCORE. [Cuz I sure as hell ain’t working in agriculture OR paying $10 for a quart of blueberries.])

 

All in all, if that’s the portrait of greatness that Donald Trump has achieved, leave me out of it. As Americans, we must ask “at what cost?” We must reevaluate what it means to be an American, and we must decide what kind of America we want for our children. (For those who profess to be Christians, you must ask if Donald Trump in any way reflects Jesus Christ–and if Jesus Christ would call Trump a worthy reflection of himself. If not–and you still support him–are you prepared to admit yourself a hypocrite?)

And so, in a country where what seems to be overwhelmingly popular is also horrific and shameful and repulsive, how do we respond? YES, voices matter. My voice matters–and I have a right to state what I stated above. Someone else has the right to state the opposite.

But let’s keep the conversation going–because at the end of the day, enlightenment is the best tool we have against an ignorant mob. For those who see the evil to do nothing is tantamount to accessory. If we use our agency to further the silence, then the misguided majority voices go unchecked, drawing more into their number and propelling us toward a future that is Donald Trump. . .  a future that is a mistake. . .  a future that, who knows, could be irreparable.

 

C. Raleigh