Something spiritual shifted today.
Pretty unmistakeable. A sea change, I think. Steph noticed it, too.
A weight lifted. A breeze of hope, incoming fresh air. I think it’s political.
As usual, I sense these things kind of like a barometer, then it takes me several days to concretely identify what happened. I’ll be back.
Today as I look at the assembly line of B/C yard signs in my neighborhood — even as someone steals my Kerry/Edwards sign, again and again — the breeze of hope seems faint at times. Is this America? And yet …
Last Sunday I walked in the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) Walk-As-One fundraiser in downtown Memphis. Fascinating people and surroundings! I noticed with some relief that as you drive from affluent suburb to downtown, the B/C signs slowly give way to Kerry/Edwards signs. Once downtown, I didn’t see one B/C sign.
In the midst of the multicolored throng of smiling brothers and sisters walking with me, and especially as we passed the Lorraine Motel where MLK was killed, now the home of the National Civil Rights Museum, I recalled that the God of scripture, history, and my experience is primarily about community and justice, as conveyed in the prophet Micah’s summary (or its more familiar translation, if you prefer) —
He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.
Compared with this, today’s prevailing political understanding of community and justice seems lacking to me — Denying free speech to neighbors as in my neighborhood and across the country? Denying rights to people who are different, even unto writing discrimination into the U.S. Constitution? Bearing false witness against others, of which the reason given for invading Iraq is a prime example? Killing men, women, and children with bombs (“collateral damage”) almost indiscriminately? Sending people into poverty while favoring the wealthy with tax cuts? Passing the curse of a crushing debt onto our children and grandchildren? Avoiding responsibility saying “it’s not my fault — he did it, she did it, they did it”? Ridiculing knowledge, thoughtfulness, and wisdom? Being adamantly unrepentant? I find behaviors like these completely opposed to Micah’s understanding of what God is looking for in us.
Yet even in the face of these destructive winds, I detect the breeze of hope. We will not succumb to this curse. The spiritual shift I felt last week is a critical mass of us clicking into awareness: We will no longer be captive to fear and deception. We will no longer tolerate lies, hate, and endless war masquerading as the will of God. As Martin puts it, we will “overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”
I share Martin’s “abiding faith in America” and “audacious faith in the future of mankind.” With him I audaciously believe that “unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” And I will work to my dying day to speak this word, to help bring about this reality.
If faith has taught me anything, it’s that the highway of retribution and violence we’re on leads to hell. We’re approaching the last exit before we hit desert. Let’s take it.
I’m not wild about Kerry’s saying “I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are,” of course, but I assume that’s an essential criterion for the bloodthirsty vote. Why this unappealing stance doesn’t dissuade me is summed up by GussieFN in this succinct analogy praising competence:
Kerry and Bush have the same plan on the war
and Tiger Woods and I have the same plan on the golf course.
What’s the point, again?