Saturday, July 25, 2020

of Serious Thoughts: Toward Justice

of Serious Thoughts: Toward Justice: I received a note-worthy comment on my June blog on violence.  Only last week did I realize how to make comments appear after the recent upd...

Monday, July 20, 2020

Toward Justice

I received a note-worthy comment on my June blog on violence.  Only last week did I realize how to make comments appear after the recent updates—technology is not one of my talents.  I want to repeat that comment as the lead in to my July essay.

 

            ‘Your insight - that the only formula for success is to put the self at risk in front of the offending party - is correct and difficult. It doesn't satisfy a sense of "fairness" because it is not fair... but it is the way that the arc of history is bent towards justice. (And that arc doesn't bend itself)    Anonymous’

 

 

Thank you for that wisdom, Anonymous.  Surely life is not fair!  Throughout my children’s growing up years, each time one came in whining ‘it isn’t fair’ about some perceived injustice done to them my response to them first was ‘and what did you do before that?’ followed by my stating ‘Life isn’t fair, but it is our job to make it more fair’.  Making it more fair includes standing before the injustice and refusing to resort to violence.  That is what Gandhi, the Suffragettes, and  MLK did and they made gigantic progress against the odds.  We celebrate, respect and admire what they achieved.

 

The arc of justice doesn’t bend itself;  the moral universe is not inevitable.  Humans are the only species capable of envisioning and understanding morality which involves principles of right and wrong, good and bad, truth and falsehood.  We know of it because of having reflective awareness—the ability to see forward and back to realize the consequences of our choices.

 

It is for that reason I wrote ‘violence is never the answer’.  Returning violence with more violence can only and will always escalate to ever more violence until someone is defeated or something is destroyed.  Violence has as its objective to crush, defeat, and/or destroy—to WIN.  The wiser objective is to raise awareness to the injustice and negotiate a solution.

 

Our desire for fairness sometimes gets in the way of reason.  When there is unfairness, tempers rise and indignation fuels anger—but it is within our ability to control the anger and not return the violence with more violence.  The marches of the 60’s did that.  Violence will never cure injustice; it will only expand and extend it.  Justice can be reached only by awakening to moral order; standing against violence and putting the self at risk.

 

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and subsequent murder of George Floyd by white policemen has awakened world-wide awareness to legal systems being unjust.  Our law enforcement system unjustly targets blacks and minorities.  But consider: it is the job of police to control crime and keep order.  It is a fact, that in general, police unfairly treat people of color—as with George Floyd.  This attitude arises from a white supremist belief that all non-whites are inferior and more prone to crime and violence . . . so when those protesting retaliate and become violent (even if it be for a valid reason) that violence serves to reinforce their view and confirms in their minds the need to ‘levy control’, i.e. bring out stronger weapons. 

 

There is such a thing as righteous anger.  It is correct to be angered by injustice . . . that is what we see in the marches, a voice raised against injustice.  MLK did it without resorting to violence

--the million-man march and other 60’s marches were morality-based protests.  They were completely non-violent on the marcher’s part; the only violence was perpetrated by the ‘controllers’ . . . and their violence was witnessed.  The cost was the loss of a great leader and many other ‘innocents’, but the gain was that a huge measure of justice was won with sweeping changes in the law.

 

Humanity is progressing but progress is slow . . . bringing primitive man through inventing and learning to use language then how to preserve ideas by writing, to awakening to the need for laws, learning how to plan for future needs, recognizing the wrongness of invading and plundering, finally relinquishing slavery as incompatible with civilization, becoming aware that all people have inherent value . . . now we are struggling to understand justice and its place in the world we have created. 

 

It has taken thousands of years for mankind to begin to see justice as a goal.  Even as short a time as 150 years ago, mankind knew the words  but not the meaning of ‘justice for all’.  It will take many generations to inch toward its achievement.  Having recognized there is a flaw in our justice system is a giant step in the right direction.  I’m not suggesting to stop there, but I am suggesting there is a need to stop the violence that breaks out, because it causes the loss of our objective toward justice.  Keep marching, keep protesting, but temper the anger, be persistent but don’t throw rocks or antagonize those whose job it is to keep order.  When they choose violence be willing to put self at risk.

 

Today we mourn the passing of John Lewis.  In his lifetime he was demeaned, jailed and beaten but he never resorted to violence.  Let his example lead.  He is highly regarded by people of all colors and in both parties.   He will remain among the great American heroes.  He was a true moral leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

of Serious Thoughts: Violence Is Never the Answer

of Serious Thoughts: Violence Is Never the Answer: Violence is never the answer—it can only escalate the problem. There is a systemic problem in this country built upon our unique democ...

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Violence Is Never the Answer

Violence is never the answer—it can only escalate the problem.

There is a systemic problem in this country built upon our unique democratic origins wherein specific ‘human rights’ were granted to citizens as a constitutional right (upheld by law)—but citizenship was reserved only for white males.  The devastation that is now threatening to engulf our nation has its origin in the institutional enslavement of humans to work and build this nation to world prominence (primarily in the South).  Imported mainly from Africa, the enslaved were deemed ‘property’, denied rights—even denied the recognition of full humanity.  White  American males were ‘in control’ and automatically believed in their ‘superiority’.  It became an embedded belief.  A belief leads to assumptions which dictates behavior, producing habits which finally become entrenched. That superiority belief has its roots in the law of the jungle—‘Might Means Right’.

Slavery was abolished and laws were changed . . . but the systematic acceptance of superiority and dominance did not.  Blacks were given voting rights with the fantasy of equality, but widespread discrimination was the norm—and the myth of white supremacy in the minds of many men continued.

[a side note that is relevant:  Women also were considered property, inferior and denied rights.  Only in the 20th Century, after years of struggling for change, women for the first time were ‘given’ the right to vote and the appearance of equality but continued to be controlled by the illusion of their ‘privileged position of wife’. . . They didn’t need to be  ‘out in the world’ they were being ‘protected’ by husband.  To this day women are still denied full pay and equal authority.]

What I’m saying is that a deeply imbedded attitude is largely unseen and often unrealized.  Attitudes permeate cultures and take many generations to dislodge. 

There is just cause for the anger, rage, and pain in the black community.  I support demonstrations, and while the majority of protestors are concerned citizens, these events are opportunities for outsiders to create mayhem which degenerates into riots.  In this particular crusade too many rallies become destructive.  There is never a just cause that can validate violence.  The violence only justifies in the minds of white bigots that they are right to oppress and call in lethal weapons . . . and everything escalates until damage, destruction and death follows; obscuring the valid accusations of injustice.   Violence cannot be used as a tool against injustice because it also is unjust.

The killing of black men in the name of law enforcement is a travesty—and it truly happens.  All reasonable people will agree.  But to turn a demonstration into burning, smashing, destroying and an orgy of looting is equally despicable.

Our dictator; excuse me, our president who clearly thinks he is the lawfully appointed ultimate example of the Supreme white supremacist has chosen to militarize the streets of our cities in response—this is a cycle in which there are no winners!

Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and the Suffragettes knew that the only formula for success in the fight against injustice is to put the self at risk in front of the offending party and be willing to pay the price, whatever it is.       –as did Jesus

I refer you to a prayer from Teilhard de Chardin:  ‘Trust  in the Slow Work of God’  (see google)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Without Leadership

America was once referred to as a beacon of hope for the world; the shining city on a hill—having pride in what went before and with hope, proudly anticipating what is ahead.  That vision has been greatly dimmed and it has to do with leadership.  Only a strong leader can steer the ship of state in the right direction amid the relentless challenges in the contemporary world.

What is a strong leader?  It is Not one who equivocates on important issues, paints false pictures and denies responsibility; Not one who wields power to punish all who disagree and tears down others to enhance his self-image.  But a strong leader is one who honestly faces challenges, accepts responsibility, gives credit to advisors and acknowledges his mistakes. 

We’ve had many strong  leaders in our past . . . it showed in JFK’s admitting his mistake regarding the Bay of Pigs and learning to surround himself with people having different perspectives; it was Woodrow Wilson meeting with an array of foreign powers to begin work for international cooperation; it was Barack Obama carrying the country forward without insulting and disparaging the hostile stonewalling from the other party; it was Harry Truman proudly displaying the sign on his desk ‘the buck stops here’; it was FDR’s ability to mobilize every man, woman and child to support the Nation’s war efforts during WWII.

To be a true leader requires character and moral fiber.  A leader is one who goes ahead of others leading by example while relying on accurate information, proven knowledge and having the willingness to adapt if the facts determine another approach is necessary.  It is a leader’s courage that becomes an inspiration to others.

Dictators are not ‘strong leaders’, they are in fact iron-fisted megalomaniacs who cruelly wield their power to single-handedly demand blind allegiance to their words without recourse to facts, reason or openness to proof.  They instill fear in their followers.

At present, the man we have in America’s seat of power, is closer to a dictator than a strong leader.  By aggrandizing his personal image while disparaging all other sources of democratic leadership he has weakened the nation’s respect for law and order.  He has seeded widespread disrespect for the underpinnings of our democracy by repeatedly insulting and defaming these institutions upon which democracy stands: the free press, intelligence agencies, news media, the voting process, military leadership and scientific findings.

He has failed to deal with this pandemic with decisive action, giving mixed messages, disputing scientific findings, using insulting and disparaging remarks to all who voice a contrary opinion and firing key people who challange him, and even his blatant refusal to wear a face mask shows a level of disrespect for all authority but his own.

His failure to face the coronavirus crisis is but the final demonstration of his incompetence to lead a democratic nation.  And his bungling portends a danger to our democracy.  

Without strong leadership we watch the demise of our nation in in the eyes of the world and within our country, the crumbling of respect for law and order, inching more and more toward anarchy.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Awakening Our Humanity

For the first time ever, all services and rituals of Easter and Passover season were canceled—attention was focused on the crisis of the global coronavirus pandemic.  People sheltered in their homes, some watched virtual services on computers and TVs.      …...It felt empty.

We are embroiled in a world pandemic; thousands have died and more will follow.  This is a tragedy beyond reckoning . . . but history of the world shows that out of tragedy there often arises unexpected good.

I have seen signs of an awakening of our humanity.  People reaching out to help others: doctors and nurses volunteering to leave their homes and go to help where the need is greatest; first responders knowingly walking into danger; people in apartment buildings cheering together from their windows the efforts of those facing the danger; healthy people singing and dancing from a distance to cheer up their neighbors; children finding ways to raise money to help strangers; homebound folks making face masks to distribute to nursing homes and shelters; random groups distributing food to those financially challenged by job loss . . . These are people helping people, not for profit or personal gain but because there is a need.  Isn’t this what we are supposed to be about?

In our fast-paced competitive world we have over-valued the material side of life while under-valuing—often ignoring—the spiritual dimension of our reality.  The spiritual dimension is not substantive but ethereal (without weight or measure) . . . the consciousness that is present only in humanity: love, compassion, empathy, hope, dreams, ideas, creativity, inventiveness . . . qualities that define our uniqueness and the very essence of our humanity.

I’ve longed for some unexpected good to come from this tragedy and I see it in the kindness, compassion, and thoughtfulness that is daily emerging.  Perhaps we needed to be slowed down to allow it to shine forth.  This world-wide viral attack shows us the oneness of our small planet, what harms any part harms the whole.  Man made boundaries no longer apply in a world with international transportation and communication.  We are at the point in history which requires our acknowledgement of our One World—our survival depends on it.

A quote from Martin Luther King:  ‘We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

And from a book by Kathleen Duffy titled: Teilhard’s Struggle ‘An evolutionary worldview implies that the cosmos is still unfinished and that its future depends on Human activity . . . the advance of Humanity’s movement in the direction of spirit depends critically on Human endeavor’ . . . not fleeing the world to commune with God but plunging into the World at its deepest and most violent.

Humanity has a purpose--we are here to build a better world.



Friday, March 20, 2020

One World


Just as the human body is a whole in which damage to any part is shared by the whole; our World is a functioning unit where damage to any part is shared by the whole.  Recently the whole world has been damaged by the coronavirus.  If we can find anything positive coming out of this global pandemic where we have shared fear and loss, I hope it brings a greater awareness of our One World.

Only recently has humanity become aware of the reality of our world as a singular unit—it has always been treated as if it were made up of separate parts.  The first time the curvature of the planet was observed was in 1935 when an explorer balloon observed the earth’s spherical horizon.  In 1946 the first pictures of the curvature appeared.  The most famous picture of all time was taken in a rocket  traveling to the moon on December 7, 1972—the stunning picture of one tiny Blue Marble drifting in the vastness of space; one single whole unit on which everything we have ever known resides.   We have come to revere that picture; but have we yet understood its’ meaning?  This is one world, one singular complete unit, sustained by the delicately balanced interaction of its many parts—and humanity is one of those parts.

For thousands of years of human history, the earth’s complexity and vital interactions were not realized or understood, so its wholeness was separated into pieces.  Those generations can be excused, they didn’t know.

Looking to the long past we see a slow gathering of groups of people from tribes to villages to cities, until the groups became Nations which laid claim to land areas and fought wars to hold or expand their ‘piece’.  National Resources, earth’s gift to humanity, were claimed and privatized for profit by states, special groups and corporations or occasional individuals.  The air and waterways were  polluted in the name of progress as industrialization swept the globe.  Species were carelessly extinguished for profit and pleasure—all because of a ‘piecemeal’ focus while failing to recognize the earth’s reliance on its interdependent functioning.

In the half century since that photo of our ‘blue planet’ appeared, we should have become cognizant of our world’s wholeness and awakened to the realization of its delicate balance and that we—humanity is part of it.  We should all be seriously taking steps to mend the sundering, not withdrawing from peace and climate accords!

It will take generations to end the warring, and learn to share the planet and its’ resources, but it has been given to This generation that it begins to move in that direction.   We may look at the acrimoniousness in today’s world and say ‘it’s not possible’—but look back some 80 years and  see the bitter fighting between Germany and Japan against Great Britain and America in WWII and realize they are now all allies.  

My point of writing this is that the coronavirus is awakening us the reality of One World.  We will get through the suffering, with painful losses to be sure, but I pray it awakens us to the only way we can save ourselves from ourselves—by seeing our wholeness.