Saturday, November 4, 2017

BlogBlast For Peace 2017

My Facebook Feed has been bitter and angry lately.  I don't want it to be all cute kitties and recipes (although I have nothing against those things.)  I am just tired of facing the truth.

OK, that's a statement of privilege if I've ever made one.  And so, let me clarify.  

I am not taking a break from truth.  

The truth of people who think people of color are complaining about institutional racism and violence in order to ruin a good Sunday afternoon.  The truth of people who think women should learn to take a joke and a quick poke in the privates so as to not ruin a good man's life. The truth of people who fear and hate those who are different from them that they want to stop their existence.  The truth of people whose faith is based on personal supremacy and suppression of thought.  

Even I can't take a break from that.  

I know those things.  Sometimes I need to look at it again so that I don't forget.  I also need to see what lies people believe in good faith.  You know what I mean.  I need to hear their fears and presumptions in order to reach across the chasm.  I need to explore my own fears and presumptions in order to build a bridge.

My Diocesan Bishop, Andrew Waldo, is said to ask us to make "Charitable Assumptions."  This means that when someone says something that sounds snarky, I should listen with a whole heart before snapping back.  And then, instead of snapping back when it turns out they are being snarky, I should listen to the fear and brokenness behind it.  AND THEN, (even if they are a jackass and deserve one of my best sarcastic ZINGERS), I ought to respond with love, not necessarily passivity, and NOT jack up the argument.  Jesus wasn't a wimp, remember, but he didn't give way to hurtful slaps.  (Ok, he appears to roll his eyes at some of the questions he's asked, and it's been said that his response to the rich man who wanted to be his follower might have had a sarcastic edge to it, but you know what I mean.)

Shoulds and oughts shouldn't and oughtn't be taken on lightly.  And I haven't taken these on lightly.  Frankly, I suck at this and am making such baby steps that it does seem that I'm going backwards some days.  That's where I am right now.  Every once in a while, I am an instrument of peace.  

Please join me.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

If you want Peace, work for Justice

In two days, I will blog4peace.  I am looking for my old blog4peace posts, and I can't find the first one I did.  I remember I was blogging a good bit, and reading other people's blogs.  I didn't know what to say about Peace.  I guess I had a globe.  And I wrote: "IF you want peace, work for JUSTICE."

This was a poster I had on my wall when I was about 12 or 13.  Justice.

Justice is a big word now.  Sort of like the year the media discovered Africa and found out about famine and civil war and slavery in the 20th century.  JUSTICE.

I am confused about why anyone would fear the word justice: no I'm not.

I fear Justice when I know I'm wrong.  When I know that my world is based on inJustice.  When I know my world only works because other people are working harder, eating less, living less than I am, so that I can have My Life.  It's the discomfort I felt when I went on a tour of a lovely plantation house and tried to imagine the gentile ladies and gentlemen and the fine food and the fine clothes and the dancing... and I couldn't see anything but the enslaved people carrying the food and making the dresses and working in the field.  I know, I'm a spoil sport.  Sorry.

I once told my aunt Ellie, whom I loved and admired, that I loved nice things but couldn't really enjoy them when I thought of the injustice and poverty in the world.  How do you deal with it? I asked.  "I don't think about it," she said.

I tried not to think about it.  It would have been so much easier.  And sometimes, even now, I try not to think about it.  I can do that.  I'm an old white lady with a house, a husband, and three children who help me more often than not.  I can forget about it.

I feel frustrated at the line of thought that goes: "Identity Politics" is the cause of stress and conflict in America (and other places, I guess.)  If you wouldn't identify yourself as black or Mexican or Muslim or Catholic or a woman or a homosexual, you wouldn't have a problem.  Because we are in a post-racial America.  And it's white.  Oh, wait, they don't say that.

I feel frustrated because I can't understand how anyone can actually believe that, and I know that they do.  I feel frustrated because I don't love these people as much as I loved my aunt, and I can't forgive them as easily.

Let's say it: I am an old white lady.  I am comfortable where ever I go.  If I am the only white lady in a restaurant, I STILL feel like I own the place.  I can ignore color or sex or sexual preference or ethnicity.  I can kiss my husband in church.  I can speak to police officers about my rights and their responsibilities.  I can walk down the street looking at houses in fancy neighborhoods.

Not everyone can.

Someone who says "Identity Politics" tells me something about themselves.  They are short sighted, at best.  They may see more clearly if they listen to their friends with different "identities," and maybe their world will change.  I'm sorry.  It sucks, not being able to forget about it.  But it sucks more if you live it.  Have a cookie.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Particularly in this time and place, in South Carolina, USA on the eve on an historic election, it is hard to preach peace.  There is so much anger.  Those of us who grew up liberal in the very conservative south thought we knew about the anger, racism, and misogyny.  We, or at least I, thought it had at least gone underground.  To basements of frat houses full of PBR and mixed nuts, shacks in the woods full of ammunition and potted meat, all night pool halls with smoke and mirrors.  Even there, it seemed that most people knew it wasn't right.  Women can lead, be your boss.  A black man can be president.  Children are to be loved.

And somehow, it's all out again.  People say horrifying things like, "I'm just saying what everyone is thinking," and I say, "NO!  That's not ok."

And then, "the other side" says terrible things too.  Ignorant, redneck, pathetic.  Deplorable.  And I wonder, how did it get that way?  How do we judge, who are we to condemn each other.  What can we say to each other.

Just a little while ago, I basked in shared stories with people who came to different conclusions from different places with different fears.  We spoke of fears and we spoke of hopes.  We heard each others stories and we reflected on how they were like our stories.  We listened to each others dreams and saw the differences but weren't afraid.

And that's what I hope for November 9 and on and on.  Throughout the nation and throughout the world.  Tell me your story.  I'll tell you mine.  Let us be still.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


This story is from Nepal, as shared by Tuula Valkonen in her book Deep Talk:

There was a monastery at the edge of the desert, where the people and animals gather around the water and trees.

As a teacher and his students were beginning their evening meditation, the cat that lived in the monastery began to make a lot of noise.

The teacher declared that the cat should be tied up for the duration of the meditation.

Years later, the teacher died, but the cat was still always tied to the post every evening.

When the cat finally died, they got a new cat which was also tied to the post every evening.

Centuries later the teacher's follower's followers wrote theses about the religious significance of tying the cat to the post during meditation.

I wonder what traditions we have in our community.  I wonder what are necessary.  I wonder what are not necessary.

Tradition, familiarity, comforting actions are all important to us as humans and as members of a community.

Mothers teach their children how to hold their mouths when they make biscuits so that they will have the fluffy yummy kind and not the hockey puck kind. Fathers teach their children to wear the stinky jersey and sit in the right seat when watching their favorite team play so that the team will win. Parents teach their children how to pray in the right way, not a frivolous or superstitious way (like the neighbors).

New Year's Day, I ate Hoppin' John, pork, and collards because it is the tradition.  I learned that other people MUST eat black eyed peas, but they don't make them into hoppin' john.  I learned some people think it's bad luck to do laundry on New Year's Day, a fine tradition in my mind.

Unless we freak out if our tradition is not followed or unless that stinky shirt is REALLY stinky, we can have our traditions and superstitions and quirks without harming ourselves or others.

Tradition can be very important.  They are part of our story.  Who we are.  Moses and the Hebrew people didn't spend 40 years in the desert because God was using Google Maps.  They needed time to learn what it meant to be free people of God.  They needed time to learn their traditions.

The break down of tradition can be chaotic.  Colonialism destroyed the traditions of the indigenous people, often putting a broken, illogical tradition in their places.  When the Colonizers left, they left a void that was often filled with a patch-work of half-remembered traditions and new ideas that didn't always fit.  And so we have the Taliban and Isis, and authoritarianism instead of community.

When someone dies, mostly you don't have to come up with a way of celebrating life and grieving loss.  We have traditions.  We have traditions for weddings, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, and graduations.  We have traditional food and festivals.  We don't always follow them, but they are there to fall back on.

Tradition helps us know how to act.

And then their are The Traditions.

The ones that exclude.  The ones that belittle.  The ones that are dangerous.

The priest is always a man.  It's a tradition.
Only white people are members of this club.  It's a tradition.
But we always make freshman drink until they puke.  It's a tradition.

We find reasons for our traditions, we write theses.  It's always been like that.

Our family traditionally drinks its collective self into a coma and dies just after procreating. It's tied to our ancestry as great warriors and farmers.   It's always been like that.  It's a tradition.

Our voters traditionally choose the dimmest bulbs on the porch to make laws --- it keeps them busy so they won't ruin the family business.  It's always been like that.  It's a tradition.

Our church traditionally is lead by clergy and lay people who consider themselves to be as close to flawless and possible and therefore feel comfortable casting the first, second, and third stones. They are confident in their knowledge and goodness.  It's always been like that.  It's a tradition.

I wonder which of our traditions have value.

I wonder which are cats tied to posts at the edge of a desert?