Saturday, February 4, 2017

The vision of health

You know how, if a person gets the winter flu or other illness, they often experience a lapse into feeling like holy hell before they get back to feeling healthy and strong?  I think that is what American society, and maybe the world as a whole, is experiencing right now.  I was born the year of Martin Luther King's March on Washington, and have watched over the past half century as society advanced in recognizing the human and civil rights of increasing numbers of people.  And now, in recent years, we've seen increasing visibility of white nationalist and other bigoted groups that seem bent on undoing the gains of the past fifty years.

What's happening, I think, is part of the process of progress and growth.  Growth is almost never linear, personally or socially:  There are setbacks as well as gains.  My best understanding at this point is that we have seen tremendous advances in human and civil rights at the external levels of legislation and public policy and official societal standards. However, at the personal level, not everyone has internalized the values on which these changes are based.  There is still a lot of personal and cultural growth--inner transformation--that needs to take place in order to create a solid, lasting cultural shift towards human equality.

So what we're seeing right now are the symptoms of sickness in the process of working itself out so that the body may be healed, healthy, and whole.  And as with physical healing, we do not get healthy by fixating on how godawful we feel; we stay focused on the vision of health and keep doing what we need to do until we are living that vision of health.

Keep the vision, fellow travelers.  Keep the vision.  Blessed Be.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Building OUR America

 Written on January 21, 2017, the day of the international Women's March.
Today, for many Americans, it feels like we are now faced with a federal government that is hell-bent on reversing the progress of the past eight years.  And we are tempted to despair.

We do not have the government of our dreams?  Well then.  Face what is, and move forward.

"Get over it?"  Never.  We accept the reality of the situation as it now stands; we do not relinquish our values, our vision, our principles of what America is and should be:  a place of liberty and justice for all; a place of inclusivity, not exclusivity; a place that sees itself as part of the wider world rather than an island set apart.

We hold our vision.  We stand by our vision.  And, to the best of our ability, we live our vision.

When we see civil rights ignored, minimized, or eroded, we stand up for the equality and basic human rights of all people.

When we see LGBT people spoken of in a derogatory way, we speak up and affirm that they are our neighbors, our friends, our family, and that we will not tolerate any treatment of them as less than that.

When we see immigrants treated with suspicion and hostility, we remind everyone that America has always been a nation of immigrants--and no, our ancestors did NOT all arrive here "legally."

When we hear rhetoric about "America first!" and "America great!" we continue to recognize that while it is our homeland and our beloved nation, America is just one nation among many, not God's Chosen Nation Among Every Place In The Cosmos.  We are all citizens of Planet Earth.  We are all human.

When we see people being ridiculed for their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, we hold fast to the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion and of religious expression, including the freedom to hold to no religion at all.  There is no one true religion in the United States of America, and we will do everything in our power to keep it that way.

We do what we can, where we can, whenever we can.  We hold to our vision, we speak and live our vision, and so we eventually shift the collective vision.

This is not to say that government policies have no role.  Yes, they have an important role.  Yes, a social safety net matters.  Yes, protecting basic human rights matters.  Ultimately, we need those protections established firmly and universally across the nation.

Meanwhile, we each do what we can, where we can, with what resources we have, to weave that net for one another.  We speak up, we stand up, we support and encourage and empower.  We live our vision, moment by moment, day by day, in this time, in this place.

As President Obama reminded us in 2008:  WE are the ones we've been waiting for.

It is in the lives we live, the choices we make, moment by moment, day by day, that we build the America of our dreams.