May Goodness Define Us

Two Sundays ago, during our live-streamed worship service, many left comments and greetings. Among them were the words in today’s post title: May goodness define us. A member of our congregation wrote these words for all to read. His choice of words jumped off the computer screen at me. And I knew at that moment what I wanted to do with them.
 
I wrote them out on a small Post-it note and placed it near my computer. When I felt judgmental about someone’s words or actions toward others, I’d read these words. And I’d stop myself from throwing out a quick rebuttal with four words: May goodness define us. Friends, it is working. 
 
Today I share them here in the hope of others doing the same. How you ask? By spreading thought-provoking reflection throughout the land. Here’s a suggestion to begin.
 
Take a few moments to look at the image above. Its creator calls it a photomontage of human faces.
 
Look closely and find one or more of the following in the image:
 
  • Young and old;
  • Black, white, and other colors representing a variety of ethnicities;
  • Male, female, LBGTQ+;
  • Doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, politicians, teachers, ministers and more;
  • Parents and grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins;
  • Some connected by DNA and a family tree;
  • Others connected by a relationship founded in friendship;
  • And the list could go on forever.
And yet, in the Creator’s eyes we are all the same. We are His children. 
 
Too often we judge others in haste. We get caught up in a short-tempered state of mind. Usually, we base our feelings on differences among us or as a means to stay in good standing with someone else. These actions are disgraceful, morally wrong, and vile. My words may sound harsh to you, but imagine how your words or actions sound or feel to the person you judge.
 
In order for goodness to define us, we must return to our center. We have to get back to the Source of light and life. Move through today’s crises and uncover a new justice and reality and allow goodness to define you. So dig deep to find where the light shines forth. It is the place where you can find the inherent beauty of those around you, whoever and wherever they are. And here we will celebrate the wholeness and unity in our diversity. From there perhaps we will find the peace we all long for.
 
In the Book of Micah, we read these words:
 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

Featured image attribution: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Finding Peace in Times of Negativity

Many in Portland, including myself, feel we’re living in a dystopian world created by issues beyond our control.

We are attempting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve watched the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter escalate into all-out conflicts with federal troops who were not invited to our city. Then “grab and snatch” tactics by the uninvited and unidentified troops to control protesters by loading them into unmarked vehicles left citizens feeling unnerved. Our city is rid of the uninvited and unidentified troops.

All of us are entitled to support, compassion, and a just and equitable environment in which to live and raise our families. Government leaders and citizens of Portland are now in discussions to make support, compassion, and equity primary to all actions taken in Portland. Continue reading “Finding Peace in Times of Negativity”

Ways You Can Participate in Change

Following up on my post from last Monday, I’ve compiled a list of resources in which you may find information and/or interests from which you may find a way to help make a change.

These items were found in various circulated newsletters, blog posts, and my personal reading. As I publish this list, to my knowledge all links are working. Let’s hope nothing messes them up in their transmission to you.

I encourage you to find your way in our current situation to make a change in yourself, your community, your workplace, your church, your family, and on and on. It’s the only way things can become different–we all have to work together. Continue reading “Ways You Can Participate in Change”

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

 

Recent media focus has been on our government’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.

As individuals, we must rise above such actions.

Historical Note About the Phrase, “Man’s Inhumanity to Man”

In 1784, Robert Burns wrote the poem, Man was made to Mourn: A Dirge:

Man's inhumanity to man

History records the possibility that Burns reworded a similar quote from a writing in 1673 by Samuel von Pufendorf: “More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature’s causes.”

Other writers have used the words “[m]an’s inhumanity to man” in their own written works. There are several books using the philosophy of the phrase as an underlying theme. A representative list of includes: Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

Why Bring This Quote Into the Conversation Now?

The answer is too simple: Our national, as well as international news, has been filled with the inhumanity of the United States government toward men, women, and children seeking safe harbor from inhumane treatment in other countries.

Granted we are not the first nor the only country committing acts of inhumanity against our fellow-man. It seems it happens every day somewhere. The news is so depressing as to make one shy away from watching or listening. But then, how to stay informed about what your country’s government is doing?

Do Those in Charge Even Know What They Are Doing?

A post written by Author Janet Givens, When Words Matter: Refugees or Immigrants?, highlights the issue of how we should label the people attempting to cross into the United States. Givens also touches on why they left their homeland in search of a better place? Be sure to take some time to read Givens’ blog post

To move toward answering this question, I personally don’t believe anyone in Washington, D.C., or at the border knows who the people attempting to cross the border are or why they are giving up everything and risking their lives to get here.

Most of the people arriving at our southern border are fleeing the violent area known as Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle. The triangle is composed of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, three countries rocked by civil wars in the 1980s and now overrun with violence, corruption, drug trafficking, and gang violence.

The men, women, and children attempting entry into the United States are not immigrants or migrants as the news media are calling them. Even the President and his Press Secretary refer to them as migrants. I won’t go into what other descriptors the President uses when referring to these people. Immigrants and migrants they are not. They are refugees seeking asylum in our country because their homelands are rife with gangs and violence that causes them to fear for their lives. Refugees from the Northern Triangle cite gang violence, forced gang recruitment, and extortion, as well as poverty and lack of opportunity as reasons for fleeing their homes and risking their lives to come to our border.

Thanks to our government we are treating these refugees inhumanely.

The U.S. Attorney General, citing the Bible no less, directs us to Romans 13:

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.” (Washington Post, “Acts of Faith,” June 15, 2018, by Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan)

In the same Washington Post article, John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, is credited with this quote alluding to Romans 13 as an unusual choice:

“There are two dominant places in American history when Romans 13 is invoked. said John Fea. . . . “One is during the American Revolution [when] it was invoked by loyalists, those who opposed the American Revolution.

“The other,” Fea said, “is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is invoked by defenders of the South or defenders of slavery to ward off abolitionists who believed that slavery is wrong. I mean, this is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made.”

According to an article in The Root, this stance places AG Sessions in exceptional company:  (1) Slave owners used it to justify the Fugitive Slave Act; and (2) Hitler cited it to rebuke Christians who stood against the rise of his Nazi Party.

The majority of the people attempting to cross our border seek asylum, which is legal. When they indicate to border officials they are seeking asylum for humanitarian reasons (see the conditions in their countries above), a court date is assigned (often more than a year) and the wait for an acceptance or rejection at that court hearing begins.

Do the Actions of Our Government Constitute Inhumanity?

In my opinion, our country’s actions in separating families constitute inhumanity. It is the equivalent of declaring these refugees as criminals, ripping their children away from them, and everybody goes to a detention camp but not in the same location. Children are frightened. Their parents brought them to America because of an authoritarian society in their homeland. And now the U.S. government is behaving like an authoritarian government. Parents don’t know where their children are, children wonder what happened to their parents and these little ones are fearful, and our government hasn’t kept accurate records of these refugees.

Even though the government says it is attempting to reunite families, these people are no better off than they were before they left the Northern Triangle. Our reputation as a democratic country is rapidly declining.

What can we do? 

We can start by practicing compassion and kindness on a daily basis. Look around you. There are many in our cities and towns without shelter, in need of food and clothing, and agencies struggling to assist them. You can start by making donations of food and clothing, or if you’re able give a monetary donation.

However, scenes in the media bring tears to our eyes and a sudden desire to help the people we see there. In this bigger picture, we can find ways to help those seeking asylum in our country. For example, the children separated from their parents tug at our hearts. As I read through my Twitter feed, I came across a retweet of a post by John J. Kelley, a writer living in D.C.

The Cut, one of several online newsletters/magazines from New York Media, posted What You Can Do Right Now to Help Immigrant Families Separated at the Border. This article lists methods of help which should be available in towns and cities across America. Reaching out to help is what we as caring, compassionate Americans can do. Let’s do it!

If you’ve already become involved in a way to help, please share with us in the comments below.

 


Featured Image Attribution: 
Jordi Bernabeu Farrús: A border patrol agent apprehends an immigrant who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. in the Rio Grande Valley sector, near McAllen, Texas, U.S., April 2, 2018. Picture taken April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott USA-IMMIGRATION/BORDER.
Per Creative Commons License: I have not changed the image by making additions or deletions thereto.