Get The Sackcloth

Every now and then I come up against a week that just blows me away.  This week it wasn’t work or anything to do with work that knocked my socks off.  It was the sheer weight of evidence that discrimination and hatred are alive and well in the United States of America.

It isn’t that I wasn’t aware of this before this very minute. Discrimination and hatred have always been a part of our culture in the US and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.  I guess that I have just chosen to focus on the areas where the mess is slowly being chipped away, where things are actually improving. I like to focus on the positive and look for evidence that God is doing great things.  Usually I don’t have to look too far before I find evidence of God’s grace and handiwork, and not long after that I find myself filled with peace and joy, having much to praise God for.

Sadly, the last few days have been filled with an increasing amount of despair.

I like to watch the news, sometimes watching it twice a day: once during breakfast and again just before I go to bed. The news acts as a kind of bookend to my day, keeping me aware of the world around me so I don’t end up cocooning in my office with my clients, or cocooning in my home office with my books and my blog, or cocooning on the couch with my family…basically the news rips me out of my cocoon!  Unfortunately, the news is not there to tell us all that is good in the world.  Usually, the news reports on what is broken, destroyed, and badly in need of repair.

This would be why the news is currently reporting on politics.

I realize that we are currently attempting to find two decent individuals that we can choose between for the next president of the United States; it’s not as if the news simply decided to start talking about politics and nothing else.  Actually, I think I would be comforted if they talked about politics and nothing else because much of what I am hearing about the presidential race has little to do with politics and has much to do with all the -isms: racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, classism.  When you boil it down, all those -isms condense to one thing only: hatred.

I could insert a pithy quote here from a wide assortment of candidates (especially Donald Trump) that is anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim…or anti-women. (God bless poor Megan Kelly.)

But it isn’t just the candidates that are filled with hatred.  It’s my fellow countrymen!  My fellow Americans are busy spouting just as much hatred as any candidate on the podium, and some of them have chosen to add in the distinct flavor of violence as well.

At a recent Trump rally, a protester raised his voice and began shouting anti-Trump statements.  Understandably, he was removed by security, and this is not the problem.  As he was being removed, someone yelled “Set the *&#^%@ on fire!”

Who says that??? Who, in this country where free speech is revered as one of the most important rights we have, advocates to set a man on fire for speaking freely?

And then there were the pictures of klansmen in full KKK regalia outside Nevada caucuses, rallying for “President Trump”.  There didn’t seem to be one shred of shame in them as they paraded around, advertising hatred and yelling pro-Trump slogans…yet they hid their faces.  When you are doing the right thing you shouldn’t need to cover your face and hide your identity.   The KKK likes to say that they believe in God and the United States of America.  The only people I know who talk about God and Country are Boy Scouts and members of the US Armed Services…and none of them hide their face and very few of them advocate racial hatred.

These examples are only a few drops of water in the lake of evidence that we are neither as tolerant nor as free of hatred and -isms as we had hoped to be over 50 years after people of color and women achieved equal rights in this country.

I could give you a lengthy discourse related to all that is wrong with our country, but strangely, the show Black-ish nailed it just last night.  Please watch this clip. It made me cringe, but it was right on the money.

Black-ish Explains Why Racism Isn’t Over

The funny thing is that I started cringing even before Anthony Anderson made his point.  I started cringing as the clip of Obama was showing because I remember watching that exact scene during the inauguration.  I remember the moment that Obama stepped out of the limo and started walking down the road.  And I remember the sudden knot that grew in the pit of my stomach and the sick feeling that gripped me immediately.

I was waiting for the shot to ring out that would end our new President’s life.

I had trouble believing, back in 2008, that the sheer amount of hatred that had been levied against Barack Obama prior to the election wouldn’t conspire to end the hope that his election had brought to me and to many people in our nation.

The fact that Barack Obama is still alive and is our President eight years after his election is a testimony to just how far we’ve come in this country.

The fact that we have campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter (and that we argue about why we need such a campaign) is evidence that things are not progressing as they should.  We are still a racist nation.  And the clearest evidence of that is that we have to have “special episodes” of television programs like Black-ish and then again on Chicago PD to address the widespread violence against Black people in this nation.  Yes…Black people. Not African Americans…that’s not what the campaign is called.  It’s called #BlackLivesMatter.

Yes they do!  Black lives matter!

Women’s lives matter.  Women’s sexual rights matter.  A woman’s control over her own body, which is gift to her alone from God, matters.

Gay lives matter. Gay couples matter.

Hispanics matter.  The lives of American citizens always matter and Hispanics are, by and large, American citizens.

Native Americans and First Nation People matter.  And the truth about how our nation has continued to sin against the Native Americans must be told, because the truth always matters.

Immigrants lives—legal and illegal—matter.

In the end I could go on and on.  But I don’t have to, because God’s children matter wherever they are, whatever color or gender or sexual orientation they are.  God loves all of God’s children and your particular opinion about that person’s spiritual status as a “sinner” or a “saint” does not absolve you of recognizing their inherent worth, nor does it give you permission to treat that person poorly or to discriminate against them.

Hate is not a Christian value.

Oppression is not a Christian value.

Discrimination is not a Christian value.

Jesus came to free us from the power of sin and the havoc that it wreaks in our lives and yet despite the many ways that we confess His name and call him our Savior, many of us appear to be clinging to all the things that Jesus came to free us from.

I look at such things and I despair of our nation’s future.  I don’t know what we need to do to stem the tide of hatred in our nation, but we need to do it soon.

Job 42:6  “therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

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