The Problem Is, It Isn’t True

A Poem about Lies, Liars, and Truth

Kernels of Truth
“Kernels of Truth” by Daveblog is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Problem Is, It Isn’t True

A Poem

By Jane Tawel

October 13, 2020

*

Remember when it was we two,

And we believed we could imbue,

A moral, high-road point of view,

in others and in me and you?

And when someone, a child or friend,

Would through a maze of untruths wend,

I used to say this thing to you:

“The problem is, it isn’t true”.

*

And we would laugh or roll our eyes,

And then to child or friend, advise

Them not the truth to compromise,

 By telling tales or telling lies.

*

Those days are gone and Time has passed,

And I thought we’d all changed at last,

But daily now I am aghast,

How easily Truth is miscast.

And I have found myself in mourning,

At all the lies that round are swarming,

And so, I offer up this warning:

By all means keep your point of view,

But when you think that lies serve you?

Or that from guile, good can accrue?

The problem is, it isn’t true.

*

Yes, lately I have déjà vu,

And my world-view has gone askew,

‘Cuz’ people that I thought I knew,

Support the liars through and through.

I fear they take the overview,

That in the long run lies accrue

The good they think to them is due.

The problem is?  That’s never true.

*

For lies and liars create strife

That have a lasting afterlife.

And nothing can make crooked, true

Unless all of us – me and you–

With humbleness and fortitude,

Change up complacent attitudes.

*

Reject the falsehood of rapacity,

And speak against evil mendacity.

We can not remain dumb and docile,

Nor shun the true Tao of the Gospel.

In Truth plus Love we find capacity,

To have both Goodness and Veracity.

*

We all are tempted to deceive,

And often tall-tales we will weave,

In our attempt to change or woo,

a “someone” that we’re hankering to,

Convince to our skewed point of view.

And I say, “skewed” because my eyes,

Are often blinded to the lies

That I can tell the whole day long,

To keep from saying that I’m wrong.

I like to think I’ve got the facts,

and those who disagree are lax

in proving things that I don’t take to;

And so, I swear ‘til I am blue,

That I am always right; Not you!

The problem is?  That isn’t true.

*

It is so easy to convince,

Myself that it’s okay to mince,

The accuracy of my quarrel.

The problem is? It isn’t moral!

*

We love to praise our own virtue,

Even when wrong, I’ll vanquish you.

And if we tell a lie or two?

So what? Aren’t we entitled to

Our own self-serving point of view?

My lies don’t hurt or effect you!

The problem is? That isn’t true.

For lies and lying hurt us all,

Which has been obvious since The Fall.

Today lies are in full free-fall,

We really must get on the ball,

To right the wrongs and testify

That Truth must live and lies must die.

*

To think we can crush someone’s dream,

To merely win for our own team;

Or that to save sculpture or fetus,

We’ll worship guys who lie and cheat us.

If we keep serving fame and gold,

We’ll find the center can not hold.

For whom we serve, we soon become.

For good or evil, we’ll succumb

To what we’ve hitched our wagon to;

We’ll be the lie, if we shun truth.

*

It’s time that we were all more honest.

Let’s not put up with all this nonsense,

Of fudging on the whole of content

or taking words out of their context.

We take one part and misconstrue.

The problem is, it isn’t true.

*

Our airwaves flow with fierce locution,

That fills weak minds with hate’s pollution,

And falsifies truth’s attribution,

With shallow lies as substitution.

We all must ask for absolution,

For making lies our contribution.

To fix our problems and confusion,

There are more ethical solutions.

Let’s all enhance our elocution

And stop this wreck of devolution.

By Holy Writ or Constitution —

Let TRUTH lead us in REVOLUTION!

*

So, as I look around me now

I’m truly shocked that we allow,

The people who are charged to lead,

Lie only to protect their greed.

We honor lies and even flatter

The liars and their fibbing patter;

As if the truth no longer mattered.

*

And when I’m super skeptical,

Is when they claim they’re ethical.

We all know Truth is black and white,

Hence, lying just is never right.

No matter when, what, where or who,

We all should have to tell the Truth.

*

When lies and liars are our leaders,

We’ve elevated bottom feeders

And said that somehow we forgive them,

Because we hope our cause outlives them.

But thinking this is so perverse,

That all throughout the universe,

There’s not a god or creed agreeing,

That can to falsehoods grant well-being.

So, all those prayers and thoughts we do

To Gods who see us through and through?

Those prayers are like cud that sheep chew.

God promises that He will spew

From out His mouth, all that’s untrue.

For in Love’s Eyes, it’s not our gains

That will forever long remain,

And hands that sleight,

Won’t see The Light;

For One Day, Love will make Truth, Right.

*

God is not mocked by lies and liars;

He expects us to go higher

Than thinking we can get away

By choosing evil for today,

In some vague hope, Good will ensue,

Despite the fact, it isn’t true.

*

It really is, in fact, medieval,

To think Good ever comes from evil.

Our lies make us much more primeval

And there’s no way for a retrieval,

Of goodness, once we are deceitful.

There has to be world-wide upheaval.

To make the playing fields more equal.

From palace steps to rich cathedrals,

Let Truth ring out from house to steeple!

*

We tell ourselves our cause is just,

And so lies do not matter much;

If later greater good is served,

Then all will get what they deserve;

And then we’ll bid the lies, “Adieu.”

The problem is?  That won’t be true.

(Lies feel so good when I crush you.)

*

For lies are catching, like disease.

When we have learned to, with great ease,

Accept the bullies who deceive;

We’ll never rise above the sleaze.

When we start down that slippery slope,

To gain back truth, we’ve not a hope.

We claim the fall out, we’ll undue.

The problem is, that won’t come true.

It’s not so easy to make right,

The wrongs we do for gain and might.

Once lies escape Pandora’s Box,

One never can turn back the clocks.

Once lying has become addiction,

It’s hard to tell what’s fact or fiction.

We think we will, but we can’t do it.

The line’s perverted; we can’t true it.

*

Let’s start today and take it slow.

Admit there’s things we do not know.

But if we don’t, we have to try

To keep from justifying lies.

If you help me, and I help you,

Together we’ll accept the truth.

And that means we won’t know a lot,

But still we can do what we ought.

*

If we say “Can”, instead of “Cannot”,

We’ll save our neighbors and the Planet.

Wholeness is plausibility,

But not by prideful falsity.

The problem isn’t clarity;

It’s just our fear of verity.

*

By letting liars have their say,

We’ve lost our souls and lost The Way.

We must stand up and must refuse,

To let the lies become our views.

*

It’s up to me and up to you,

and in our own hearts to undo,

this tendency to twist and skew

what simply isn’t really true.

I know it feels good, through and through,

To have our team fill up the pews,

And to believe that we’ll accrue,

Rewards no matter what we do.

The problem is?

It isn’t true.

*

We have to call out all the whoppers,

‘Bout how the rich are treating paupers.

We have to quit our foolish praising,

Of those adept at coarse evading.

We should be shocked at the audacity,

Of perilous and rank mendacity.

What has gone wrong in church and nation,

To cause wide-spread prevarication?

*

The Truth be told, a lie’s a lie.

No wiggle room to comprise.

Each one of us tends to pursue,

Just what we want to think and do.

We tell ourselves that we’ll get through,

And THEN we’ll find new points of view,

And uphold good for me and you.

But we forget the why or how to;

And just like Pilate asked The Good Jew:

“Why not let people crucify you?

Our problem is?

 So? What is Truth?”

*

Tomorrow never comes unless

Today we choose to do our best;

For yesterday is plenty proof,

That lies will never become Truth.

The Path is narrow, and The Way,

Is only clear for just this Day.

Choose Goodness, Love, Humility.

Choose Kindness and Veracity.

And if we tackle this World’s sorrows,

Together we can make tomorrow,

A Time that’s better through and through.

What once was crooked, will be trued.

*

I hope today when I’m enticed,

To make my lies seem like they’re nice,

Or when I try to win or score,

I’ll stop to realize that there’s more,

To being all I’m meant to be;

And I will pause and take a knee.

Not worshipping a flag or book,

But truly taking a hard look

At what is meant to be my role,

In seeking wholeness for my soul.

And that means doing the hard labor,

Of scorning lies, and loving neighbor.

*

And on my knees, I’ll look inside

And realize that I can not hide,

From Truth and Love and Light and You

And that whenever I try to,

I pray that Love will win and woo,

With Words that lovingly undo,

The falsehoods in my own worldview.

*

Today I draw lines in the sand,

For with True Truth, my soul must stand.

Let’s fight the fight, Friend; me and you?

And Right will Win,

For Love is True.

*

Let’s all to others, grace bestow.

Accept there’s much we do not know.

In Truth and Love we all should grow.

The low made high, the high brought low.

And to a Heaven on Earth we’ll go.

The answer is?

May it be so.

© Jane Tawel 2020

Struggling With My Chosen Belief System

by Jane Tawel

October 9, 2020

God's creativity
“God’s creativity” by Martin LaBar is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Struggling With My Chosen Belief System

by Jane Tawel

October 9, 2020

I am (sadly) curious about what the “Christian” lemmings’ take / excuse is on the latest news that Donald Trump, in order to treat his Covid 19 symptoms, took a drug that is made from aborted fetus cells. Anyone? Anyone ready to look at the definition of hypocrisy, now?

I speak here from what I hope is an evolving, growing Judeo-Christian Worldview and a belief system that reaches out to all forms and belief systems of truth, light, joy, love, and peace. However, every now and then, I simply cannot remain silent when I see so many, at least in my country, America, claiming a type of “Christianity” that I don’t recognize as either Biblical or God-loving. We used to do these things called “testimonies”, in the churches I grew up in. Here is a little one of mine for today.

If I claim a Judeo-Christian worldview, it is not about whom I support, but WHY I support them, for we believe God looks at the heart. And for the one who claims either Judaism or Christianity, there should be only one “WHO” that matters — our Parent/ Creator/ God. My choices about anything and everything are important because of what that says about my walk, my religion, my soul, my God. As Jesus makes tragically clear: “What does it profit me if I gain the world, but lose my soul”? The only WHO that matters is Whom I say Christ is. The only WHO that matters is the God of LOVE of the whole world, the whole planet, the whole of Us, from the least to the (temporarily) greatest.

I will once more recommend a deep dive into the actual words of The Christ that many of us have claimed to follow. Matthew 23 is shockingly bold and convicting for starters. Warning: there is absolutely nothing at all on abortion in Christ’s words or in fact any of God’s, but there is quite a lot on hypocrisy and lies.

As just one little sheep myself, I am trying to follow the right Shepherd, not the wolves in sheep’s clothing. I am trying to take these words to heart from Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Jesus is very clear that there will not be any politicians or even church leaders to stand beside me on judgement day. He does promise me judgement however, on how I treat others and how I follow “the Truth, the Life, and the Way.”

Sorry to be so preachy, but it just matters so very, very much to me. Not this man, or that man matters one whit in The End; and I matter not all; but it all and all certainly matters about The Son of Man and what some of us do in His name. #nocheapgrace #nocheapSavior

May you today find your own way to Truth, Life, Love, and Joy. May you know the value of your very own soul above all things temporal. May you be bold and brave enough to stand up and be counted among those who would change the world, even just your own little corner of it. May you have the assurance that Good will always win in the end if we truly believe that “faith, hope and love will reign eternally”. And above all, may you know that there is a Spirit-God Who loves you — just little old you.

One Clumsy but Trying Step at a Time, Jane

The 9/11 of The Year 2020

(Time Magazine: 9/11 The Photographs That Moved Them Most)

 

The 9/11 of The Year 2020

By Jane Tawel

August 15, 2020

As of August, at least 168,000 American citizens have died from Covid-19. This does not include any people that we do not know of, who may have died from the virus or from complications from the virus, nor does it include the many thousands that will continue to die while “Nero fiddles and Rome burns”.  Our Congress can’t work together so it goes on holiday and our President continues to lie to the people and golf, and we the citizens are left asking those in charge, “Do you really not understand the seriousness of this current domestic terrorism called Covid-19? Or do you just not care?”

This Pandemic on American soil,  is our generation’s Pearl Harbor, our D-Day, our Boston Tea Party, our 9/11.

 

In one of the most horrific events in modern American history, a day forever known as 9/11,  2,977 people died.  Our national response to 9/11 was swift, immediate, sweeping, and although in many ways, it has been shown to be wrong-headed, and short-sighted, at the time it was something that every single patriotic citizen of America saw as something our government did for the protection and well-being of our citizenry.  The 20/20 of our hindsight about the consequences of America’s reactions to 9/11 should not blind us to the brave and absolutely necessary reaction of our leaders at the time this unprecedented horror happened.

 

The federal government led by people who had never experienced anything like 9/11 before sprung into action and worked together, President and Congress making the best of their responses to an unprecedented and  tragic situation, in order to devise national and necessary changes for increased safety measures, protections from danger for its citizens, and the rebuilding of our trust in our government and in each other. Slightly less than two short decades ago, Americans, having seen the worst that could be thrown at us, rose to the challenge of trying to be the best that we could be – the best we have ever been – by working together, rebuilding literally and figuratively from the ground up.  Governments both federal and state-wide enacted historical sweeping measures in security and protection on a national scale. The attack on American soil was nothing compared to the attack on the American psyche and in fact to this day we are fighting two unending wars because we took so seriously this unimaginable thing that happened on September 11, 2001.

Today another unimaginable thing is happening on American soil. Today we are also living in unprecedented times. Today we have the choice humans so often have: Shall we learn from history, and do our best, or shall we ignore history, and make mistakes?

 

Today, we look back, at the mistakes the government made in its response to 9/11, and we should do this, because by looking at yesterday’s mistakes, we can do better today. But we must also continue to cherish and hold-fast to what our nation did right, and especially to what individuals did heroically and sometimes, miraculously. We should read and reread, tell and re-tell, the true stories about the heroes of 9/11 who from Day One waded into danger to save strangers, and those named and unnamed heroes who continued year after year to work to make this country safer for everyone, and better for every citizen. The moral of the Story of 9/11 was at heart – our hearts! – and the amazing character of the average American who rose to that challenge of the moment.

 

The federal response (and the responses to 9/11 of New York City, New York, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia) are overshadowed, as they should be, by the rising up of the often forgotten, often unnamed, unsung, and sometimes even unknown heroes of the average American who waded bravely and literally into the danger, and then the ashes and destruction, and figuratively into the gaping wounds of need that many citizens experienced after 9/11. No one asked, “Why should I?”. Everyone asked, “What can I do?”

 

What we as a nation did in the shock-waves reverberating from the falling of the Twin Towers and the attack on our nation – what we did, not just in one or two places, but across the plains, from ocean to ocean, and from individual American to individual American, was not perfect, but it was perfectly what we said we wanted to be when we became a nation – “one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all”.  And leading the way, not trailing behind or excusing itself for not knowing what to do, or hoping that everything was going to be okay in time, was our federal government. This was their responsibility and therefore, their duty to respond to an act of terrorism.

 

I have seen great things in this United States of America and I have read of many more amazing, miraculous, phenomenal things that both government and individuals have done in the history of this “Sweet Land of Liberty”. And, yet,  people are still telling me, in August 2020,  that we, this country, this “shining city on a hill”,  can not hold our current federal government accountable for a response to a pandemic that is killing Americans on our soil?  People are still telling me that our President and our Senate are doing everything they can? What about everything they SHOULD?

People are telling me we can not hold our neighbor accountable? People are still telling me that every citizen is free to do whatever they want no matter what the consequences to other citizens; that we can not be expected to give up our politics in order to all work together?  People are telling the essential and emergency workers that what they are doing is pointless because many citizens are still unwilling to give up a little here, and share a little there, and build back our safety and health from the ground up? And I have to ask, What country is this? Surely it isn’t the same country that responded to 9/11?

 

People are telling me it’s only a “small percentage” of people dying, or getting sick, and I have to ask, “Is that how you responded to the 2, 977 people who died in 9/11? Did you comfort yourself with the fact that only a very small percentage of Americans had died?

People are telling me we can’t make voting by mail safer in same way we made flying safer?  Or that we can’t all wear masks in public for a while in the same way we all learned to take off our shoes at the airport?  That we can’t give up a trip or two, or a bar party or two, or a church service or two in the same way people gave up their families and homes to fight the war on terror?  People are telling me we can’t possibly require some people to make a little less money out of the millions and billions they make so that other people can have a place to live, and some electricity, and their children can have enough food today because the idea of unfettered capitalism is more important than human life?  People are telling me their weapons of terror are more important as a freedom than the freedom to walk safe streets?  People are telling me that America is no longer the nation of “Yes, we can” but a nation of “No, we won’t”?

 

And I just can not, for the life of me, understand. Because I woke up the morning of 9/11 not knowing, not understanding as I watched the same horror that every American citizen watched that day, a horror we could never have imagined, a thing incomprehensible even as we saw it happen before our very eyes. And none of us knew what to do. And then, as a nation, we did it.

 

I don’t understand so many leaders and people today in America; I can not get my head around their hard hearts and illogical, uncaring, foolish behaviors. Because I once saw this nation simply pull up its sleeves, and say, “We aren’t sure how, and we aren’t sure we will do it all right, (we most certainly won’t) but we are sure we will try our best. Because if we aren’t in this together to succeed “one for all and all for one”, to rise from these ashes like a phoenix; then we will certainly be in it together to fail and fall.” Divided we will fall, and united we will stand. That is who we were after 9/11, and as much as we mourn those who suffered and continue to suffer because of some of our bad decisions made in the wake of 9/11, and as much as those in charge then regret now some of the things we did because of 9/11, we did not shirk our duty to all that is ethical and true and right about our responsibilities to our ideals and to each other.  I love the America that we were on 9/12/2001. And I find myself wondering, what happened to that America?

 

People keep telling me that Americans don’t have to do anything anyone tells us to do because that is our right.  And I just keep thinking – have we become our own worst terrorists?  Will the 9/11 of the Corona Virus be the thing that finally defeats the great American Dream?

All I can say is, Oh dear God,  I hope not.

 

Today in 2020, we are guardians of a great legacy, the legacy of our forefathers and foremothers, the legacy of our brave warriors who fought not just for our own freedoms but for the freedoms of countless nations in countless wars, on countless shores. We are guardians of the legacy of those on our own soil who insisted that all have civil liberties, and of the legacy of September 11, 2001.  Will that legacy die at the hands of our own unwillingness to fight this new enemy of the American people? Will a virus be the one seemingly small thing that defeats this great, big nation?

No, it will not be a virus that defeats America. It will be our own selfishness, pride, greed, and ignorance. It will not be our inability to change, it will be our unwillingness to change.

If the Corona Virus is the thing we as a people can not rise up to defeat, then even if only a “small percentage” die from it,  it will be the thing that kills the very soul of our nation.

Aren’t we bigger than that, Americans?  Aren’t we braver, and truer, and kinder than that?  Aren’t we more alike than we are different, because we are Americans, after all?  Aren’t we able to rise above this new challenge? Together? United?  Can’t we, together, envision the legacy we want to leave in the wake of this new terror and trial?

 

I want to believe we can. If you’re with me:  “Let’s roll!”

 

d2yjh17-680517ec-53aa-4d99-b3b7-af7c0de42b09.jpg

(c) Jane Tawel 2020

 

No More Fingers in the Dam

by Jane Tawel

July 30, 2020

Hoover Dam 2005

“Hoover Dam 2005” by stevencko is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

I was commenting on a friend’s post today. She is someone of great heart and intelligence, who is struggling with the current conundrum of a Super Villain Virus and the push to reopen schools; a problem of “pandemic-proportions” foisted on her as a teacher and a parent. Anyone who has ever been both a teacher and a parent, (and I have long been both), will know the difficulty when one is asked to choose between those “two sides of our hearts”, and we don’t always make the right decision. But then we shouldn’t have to choose between “our children” — it’s an unfair “Sophie’s Choice”. And we wouldn’t have to so often choose between our love of our students and our love of our children if things were different here, at least in the good ‘ole U.S. of A.

 

My friend questioned whether she is being asked to be a “martyr” for her students if classrooms are reopened during this pandemic. She feels she is being asked to count the cost for her students for staying out of the classroom without considering the cost for her own family of going back in. My thoughts are included below as it might prove interesting for some of my other teacher and parent friends. But even if you are neither, wouldn’t you like to be part of the Big Picture Solutions that are so desperately needed now? The old chalkboard lessons have been erased or at least smeared due to a very bad thing happening around the world, but that merely means we can start anew and learn better lessons for ourselves and teach all the children that we care enough to do the hard work of Real Change.

 

Dear Shaneka: The difficulty is that what we are seeing is that the problems are so, so deep and much bigger than just these critical decisions we must make for the upcoming school year. The long-standing issues in America are all coming to a head in this pandemic issue in terms of educational resources, health resources, paid time off for sick time and for sick child health care for everyone, (no matter your 401k status), and livable wages for all. We need more schools, more and better paid teachers, smaller classrooms, more money in public education especially in areas of the country where there are not huge tax dollars (this includes poorer regions throughout the country along with those parts of the country that bear the brunt of systemic racist policies). We need to re-consider the overwhelming costs of getting a decent education from the early years to the college years and then truly weigh that against the costs of NOT providing educational resources for all our citizens and the overwhelming costs that has had to the whole nation because of our laxness in addressing the problem.

 

We are still always trying to foist the tough decisions onto parents and teachers but the tough decisions must be made by those with the power and resources to change what is wrong that makes dealing with a pandemic so overwhelming. We know as teachers that the problems have been overwhelming long before now. We know as parents that the tough decisions must always be made for the good of all of our children; because it is only if all of our children are safe, and healthy, and able to thrive, will any child really have the future and the dreams that he or she deserves.

 

We keep looking for band-aides but what we need is “open-heart” surgery on a national and state level. Oh, teachers have martyrs’ hearts, for sure, Shaneka, but going into dangerous situations for false or foolish reasons won’t make any one a true martyr, it will simply be one more finger in a dam that has already broken. The flood of problems we face has already begun lapping at the edges of all of our towns and communities. We have to fix the dam. And quickly. (Analogy to Hans Brinker story intentional.😊)

 

C’mon folks, we can do this. If the flood of fears and problems has begun seeping into our very homes and our children’s playgrounds, then it is long past time to fix the broken structures that have opened those floodgates. We can do it no matter what our lot in life or our calling. We can all take a page from the mothers and fathers and teachers, and with the ingenuity and creativeness and care and love that lets a teacher walk into a classroom every day or a parent love and dream big dreams for her child each night, we can “be the change the world needs to see”. Let’s take this opportunity to rebuild the broken parts not just put band aides on them. And beginning with rebuilding our schools and re-imagining our children’s education and our children’s future seems a very, very good place to start.

photo 1-6

(Mrs. Tawel and some of “her children”)

Stop Playing in the Traffic

Stop Playing in the Traffic, My Friend

By Jane Tawel

July 23, 2020

 

I have an acquaintance who is all worked-up about America becoming Communist. I just don’t have enough hair left on my head to keep pulling it out trying to explain things to some people, but remaining silent is also not always an option for me, at least at a first go.  I do not engage in fruitless argument, but neither will I engage in the mock-niceness of not saying anything.  Not saying something to people is not only not nice, it is unkind.  If people want to go out and play in the traffic, I at least have the responsibility as someone who has learned that playing in traffic is not only wrong-headed but dangerous to try to convince them they aren’t seeing things the right way.  I have to at least try to be ethical and to warn them and tell them:  “Hey, you know you don’t have to play in the traffic, you can play right here in my safe backyard with me. C’mon in”. I can’t force them to change their minds, but I also can not be silent while they play a game of chicken with speeding semitrucks.  And no this is not about things that are truly open to one’s own opinion. For more on that you can see my post of July 6, 2020 (janetawel.com/2020/07/06/unapologetically-thoughtful-woman-seeks-thinking-humans/)

 

So, back to the person who lives in fear that the people who are protesting throughout America today are “commies”, and that all of the people who want real change in this country are “socialists” (a term some people erroneously associate with synonyms for “thieves” or God help us,  with that frightening term “French People”) (and let’s just pause here for a moment of silence to let this settle in: this man and others are upset only about the Black Lives Matter protests – about the way Black People protest or the way we are protesting as white people for the long disenfranchised people in America. In the name of Saint Colin Kaepernick, isn’t it as clear as Black and White by now folks what the real issues are?!?!)  This person and tragically too many like him actually believe that the federal government of America is right to send camouflaged troops into cities to protect property rather than allowing local governments to decide how to protect peacefully lawfully protesting people. I mean, can we get this straight – some people are still more upset about property destruction as a bad side effect of good people protesting long after they have forgotten what the protests are about – people!)

 

And when my friend brings up the cold, cold-war corpse of Communism as a specter,  he is right (but oh so wrong because he doesn’t see it)– right in that it is always the abuse of power by those who lead that corrupt a system of government and thereby decay the moral integrity of the very foundations of a nation.  This is absolutely true today, if we look only at nations and governments in which the philosophy of communism fell to the greed and power-mongering of the entitled, and this is true no matter what they may claim their governing philosophy is today. Of course, as Orwell predicted, our founding philosophy of American Democracy and the ideology of a “republic for all” has fallen just as low, if not lower than that of the original intent of Marx’ and Engel’s ideology. This is what we should be looking at – not where we might be headed as we change, but where we have sunk as we have changed.

 

And can we just actually look around at our nation with open eyes and ask, “is this really what we want to believe in?”. It may be what we “want” since we can be as self-centered and greedy as the next person, but is it what we want to believe in?  Are we willing to follow along with the folks that have drunk the kool-aide and let ourselves think that a little more “communal-ism” would even be the worst thing that could happen to our self-centered nation?

 

(I refer you to a commercial break here so you can listen to that great prophet, Bob Dylan and one of his many protest songs:  “Gotta Serve Somebody”   https://youtu.be/wC10VWDTzmU )

 

People who think this way about what they fear happening in America don’t understand either America’s true system of current leadership which I would describe as “Oligarchical Unethical-Uber-Capitalism”; nor do they understand very much about the theory of Communism as a governing ideal rather than the way Communism has come to be used by history’s dictators and shysters.

 

So when this acquaintance of mine, who happens to claim Christianity as his religion,  posted a scary meme about America becoming Communist, I responded thusly.  (For those of you that don’t know much about Christianity, the cult of Jesus Christ was originally the most philosophically “Communist” religion since Abraham gave Lot the first choice in land ownership. It still has elements of the ideals of communism that can be found in many communities that practice Christianity including nuns, monks, the Amish, and the Bruderhoff communities.)

 

I told my friend, that in fact he was right – America’s Federal Government is behaving like a Cold-War-ish Communist regime, in a frightening way, perhaps not seen on a federal level since the civil rights movements of the 1960’s or the student riots which caused Neil Young to pen the words to the song “Ohio” in 1970 (https://youtu.be/xy7FgTKPaMc)  . Change a few words and names in Young’s song, and we horrifically, sadly seem to be right back in those days of the American Federal Government abusing its power against its own peacefully protesting citizens.  So, to my friend’s fallacious argument meme, this is what I said:

 

Why yes, my friend — the fact that you see freedom of speech as vandalism is exactly the point of propaganda such as regimes like Communism and Fascism have used in the past. Or Nixon’s “bums” at Kent State. Or Hitler’s Jewish enemies of the state that led to the Holocaust. It is called propaganda for a reason and the reason is to persuade people that lies are truth and truth is a lie and to create an alter-enemy narrative so that the people in charge can divert your attention away from the problems they are supposed to help solve. Read your Orwell. Read your history. Read news accounts of what is actually happening — your government employees lining their pockets by abusing their power (golf tournament in Scotland anyone? So worthy of a petty, greedy strongman like a Stalin or a Putin.) Your federal government acting against its own citizens let alone against immigrants and sojourners. Things allowed to happen because someone was “elected”, even though it is unconstitutional, breaking the laws and the rule of law of the Constitution, tear gassing innocent people, not “vandals”. Oh, you are quite correct — that is all something that communist countries do (see China vs. Hong Kong) or dictators (see history of Tienanmen Square, Arab Spring, just for a few in our lifetimes). Caring more about their economy numbers than the health of their citizens is indeed so worthy of a communist dictator — you could not be more right on this, if you are pointing the finger at our current federal government. And please,  if those points of true history or current events don’t convince you, read the Bible for it’s great and God-origin calls to justice and sharing and equality and freedom and love — and then just picture Jesus (who was frankly nothing at all like an American capitalist) — imagine the Guy who people want to claim as their Savior, turning over the tables of the politically sponsored religious money making businesses, while he was being teargassed and hit with rubber bullets by Caesar’s camouflaged men while the religious leaders washed their dirty hands of it rather than washing the protesters’ and sinners’ dirty feet.

 

For me, a person who has long tried to figure out what that figure of Jesus Christ is supposed to mean to my very own life, has there ever been a better time in my own country – in my own community – in my own family – in my own soul– to serve and love others as He did? Do I, as Jesus did, fear G-d enough to stop fearing Caesar? As Martin Luther King and John Lewis did?

 

And even if you don’t believe in any god at all – is your life not worth more than letting your fears define you?  Don’t you want to be defined by what you believe IN, not what you fear is OUT there?

 

So, I told this friend of mine, and I say it to us all:

 

Be careful what you are allowing yourself to fear because it will end up being what you are left to serve.

 

Honestly, I have never liked talking about politics.  I don’t have a desire to spend my remaining time on earth to write about them or even think about all this stuff. After learning and thinking about all  the issues currently swirling around in America today, I feel like I have just willingly put myself in the eye of a storm much too big for little ole’ me and I am watching the pressing needs and problems swirl around like  a million Amazon packages in a Wicked Witch’s Tornado.

 

But I must. If I am forced to run into the oncoming traffic only because it might save somebody else, then run into the speeding cars I must.  It is my time.  It is The Time.  As that great sage and prophet, J.R.R. Tolkien said in The Fellowship of the Ring:  We must decide what we are called to do with the time we are given.

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The Problem with the Unpatriotic Use of Flags and Anthems

American Flag

“American Flag” by Zoramite is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

The Problem with the Unpatriotic Use of Flags and Anthems

By Jane Tawel

June 25, 2020

So, here’s the thing about flags and anthems, folks.  They aren’t meant for sporting events or openings to concerts or educational institutions in the first place.  We have gotten so used to the unpatriotic use of flags, pledges and sung anthems, that we get quite confused when people choose not to abuse their use by not pledging, not singing, or goodness-sakes, protesting the abuses by people of what these symbolic gestures are meant to signify. A case can be made for flags and anthems at Olympic or International games or Patriotic events on national birthdays, or schools that train soldiers, but those are each a different kettle of fish. If we would rewind and get ourselves out of the silly place we’ve boxed ourselves into on this issue, maybe we could figure out how to actually honor our country and also figure out how to protest what is wrong with it.

 

Flags are for soldiers in battle and honored in death for those fallen in battle. Flags are for those who serve the public in the halls of congress, the courts of justice, and in the streets and byways where those who have taken an oath of service to community, state, and nation help us stay safe and protect us (ALL of us). I think it would be great if Congress, the Senate, The White House and all state and local governments had to begin every day gathering together (TOGETHER)  to sing the national anthem and salute the flag.  That is what these symbols are for, to remind our government officials that at least in America, we do not exist to serve them, but that they exist to serve us, and that they serve the ideals of the best of “us”.

 

Flags and national anthems are not for the beginning of a school day any more than they are for the beginning of a work day. That is for purely communist countries, where citizens work for the good of the nation, not the other way around. Not that these countries exist, but the false premises do. Jobs and education are what nations provide for the betterment of the citizens, who in turn, make the nation better because of their opportunities. Unlike in certain other countries, we are not meant to serve our nation when we are pursuing our dreams, our nation works to serve us and to provide viable employment and useful education for its citizens so that they may pursue life and happiness.

 

America is founded on the idea of liberty within reason. “Reason” meaning, we need educated, thinking, ethically-trained citizens. One of those liberties is the idea that we can worship in the way we believe it is right to worship, as long as it doesn’t harm another person, of course.  This means if my religion or belief system teaches me that I do not “pledge allegiance” to anything or Anyone other than my God, I do not have to pledge allegiance to a flag unless I am fighting for my country against another country.

But true allegiance in belief-systems, religions and patriotism seems to be a lost virtue. Allegiance means that I can (and should)  do a lot more than recite an empty pledge or hum a mumbled anthem to support and honor my country. I honor my religion, or my worldview or my nation by the way I live out its best beliefs and adhere to the ethical ideas of the best of the human beings who trod this mortal coil.

 

People who do not live according to a religious belief should not confuse patriotism for religion either. Whether we like it or not, no nation or empire or kingdom has ever been eternal and the planet will keep spinning (we hope) long after any nation has come and gone. Symbols are bigger though than any one belief-system or one place or one people. Symbols (such as flags) represent those “truths we hold self-evident” and true truths ARE meant to be eternal. This is what we praise when we raise a flag or sing an anthem — we praise the truths that we put our trust and hope in — hoping that those truths will last far longer, and far outlast any particular team or nation or any one person has come and gone.

 

Religions aren’t meant to have flags. Religions are meant to entice followers to true truths no matter where they are from, and to accept people based on their need, not on their team mentality. There is no such thing as a “Christian” flag or a Buddhist flag and so forth, and when  nations combine religion with nationalism to make flags more important than ethics, or symbols more important than worldviews, they dishonor the whole shebang of their supposed beliefs – nation, God, and man.

 

There is such a thing as a religious symbol. In Christianity symbols include a cross and bread and wine. In Judaism symbols include things like a yarmulke or menorah.  In Islam, all symbolism is considered as something akin to idol worship. And so forth and so on.  Symbols are not religion, symbols are portals to seeking better understanding of deep ideas. This would be a good thing for us to consider when we raise a flag or sing with other citizens in praise of kin and country. When we share a symbol, we are recognizing our shared ideals and the daily struggle to make them a reality in the present of our very lives.

 

When we make symbols of patriotism hold religious status, we do a grave disservice not only to the idea of patriotism, but to the idea of religion. To think that someone is unethical because they do not sing an anthem but take a knee instead, to think someone is going against a belief of religious status because they do not pledge to a flag, is fallacious reasoning and harmful intention. More than that, in America, land of the free and the brave, the shining city on a hill, a democracy struggling for realization – forcing the worship of a symbol is downright unpatriotic.

 

Conversely, when we make our flag and our national anthem something we do at ballgames or musical concerts, we elevate entertainment and competition as the highest forms of our national ideals.  No wonder we have slipped down the slippery slope we have.

 

There are such things as religious anthems and they are called things like hymns, or prayers, or chants. They are sung for certain reasons at appropriate times.  And so should national anthems and flag pledging be. Religions are meant to uphold people spiritually, not patriotically.  And patriotism is meant to make us feel that together we are one people and one nation and that for the good of “US”, we can conquer anything that threatens to undo the ideals and values that hold us together as “one nation”. Whether or not that is under God or not, is up to us.

 

This idea of patriotism has nothing to do with football or church, nothing to do with cheering or praying, nothing to do with self-centered pride or idol-worship as holiness, nothing to do with education or entertainment. Flag waving and national singing together is meant for celebration of the best of who we are, like the birth of a nation (July 4th) or the remembrance of a tragedy that threatened to undo the best of who we are (September 11th).  And when and if we are not behaving as the best of who we were, who we are, and who we can be, then we demean and degrade the very ideals that are behind the reasons we have symbols in the first place.

 

A flag is a symbol, not an icon.  It is meant to symbolize what a particular country stands for. A flag is meant to encourage those who are waving it to understand what needs defending, uplifting, or improving. A flag is not meant to be defended as worthy in its own right,  but to remind us of what is worth defending as good and  just and kind and true and honorable in our nation. The converse of that is also true.

 

A flag should make us feel shame and dishonor when what we do or say is not for the good of all of a nation’s citizens and it should make us feel energized to change things so that the least among us is proud to be a part of who we are becoming – not who we were – who we can be.

 

A flag is about sacrifice not selfishness. Singing an anthem is about community not competition. When we let our symbols decay under the weight of injustice, lies, greed, and power mongering, we do far worse to the ideals that The United States of America used to symbolize to the world, than a mere flag burning or knee taking or protest poster could ever do.

 

I do not have to pledge to a flag to prove I love my country. To prove I love my country, I need to stand up for the best ideals, work to change what is wrong, and live according the best lights of my nation’s best values.  To prove I love my country, I do not need to sing a song (that is impossible for most of us to sing on key anyway), and I certainly am not meant to confuse patriotism with an entertainment event. To prove I love my country, my actions will always speak louder than words, and my heart of service to others and fight for the best ideals of this nation, will always sing more truly on-key than any anthem ever will.  Our country is not meant to be upheld in its grand and good ideas for the sake of its entertainment. And even though we seem to have come to a place where we think this is what America stands for, it is not too late to start climbing back up the hill, to light the torches of truth, to join hands to pull-up the weakest of us to stand on equal footing with the strongest of us, and to be that place that “So proudly we hail” once more at the world’s “twilight’s last gleaming”.

 

 

On September 11, 2001, some people did a heinous thing against the nation that I am honored to be a citizen of.  They could claim they did this in the name of nation or religion, but that would be a lie.  They did it because they had allowed hatred and pride, selfishness and false beliefs, to take deep roots in their souls. Their horrific actions had nothing to do with true religion nor with true patriotism. If we have learned anything in this current living generation from the tragedy of September 11th, it should be that patriotism has nothing to do with flag waving or history-worshipping or cheers for our sports or political teams. People who are abusing and twisting the ideals of our nation and stoking the mock cheers for self-centered patriotism are lying to us.  And their lies are dividing some of us, and killing others of us. Loving and honoring America is only as true and as good as the honor and love we give each other.

 

There are many peoples and nations who claim to do things in the service of all kinds of beliefs. History is a searchlight into our own hearts and minds we dare not turn away from if we do not want the darkness to finally and completely consume us. Nations have suffered from while propagating genocides, holocausts, terrorist attacks, enslavement, systemic racism, systemic misogyny, systemic impoverishment, dictatorships, and caste systems.  Many of these peoples and nations claim they do it for love of a flag or a symbol.  But this a lie. A flag that has ceased to be a symbol of morals and ethics, without honor and justice, without freedom and equality is not a symbol of anything worth honoring. It is a piece of cloth and certainly not worth our worship. It is barely worth our attention as entertainment.

 

A flag is only as good as the people it stands for. Perhaps that is the saddest thing of all about America thinking a flag or an anthem is worth nothing more than a place of honor at a competitive ballgame or the team-sport of a political rally. The saddest thing of all is that we no longer think we as a people are worth those noble ideals or ethical standards that caused some people to once pen these lines,  “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 

 

If we want to truly honor the flag or our national anthem, it is way past time we started doing the things that honor not what America was, but what America can be. It is time to start forming a more perfect union, just as we were meant to. It is time to secure the blessings of this life for our posterity, just as our ancestors tried to do for us.   Until then, maybe the most religious and the non-religious of us should start taking a knee and the most patriotic of us should start pledging to take care of each other.

I Will Defend Your Rights With My Last Blogged Breath

This is something I was originally going to post only on my Facebook page, but then thought it might be useful to some readers on other mediums. I love the camaraderie and kindness and supportive comments of fellow writers on WordPress,and I try to do the same as often as possible, so this is not about anyone or writer that I have come across on this platform. I do know several people on Facebook who “inspired” this passionate plea for allowing freedom of speech and for questioning and for debate, and I think we have seen the problems I am trying to address in this post, exponentially take destructive roots quite clearly in far too many of our leaders in politics and religions. The following is inspired by the voices who are now insisting to be heard after the murder of George Floyd, and the renewed vitality in the Black Lives Matter conversation. Thank you as always, for, as Blanche would say, “the kindness of strangers”. ~~Jane

 

You Have the Right to Remain Not Silent

by Jane Tawel

June 10, 2020

 

I’m sorry to have to point this out, I dislike conflict or being the gadfly or bad guy just as much as the next person — but if you are just now getting on your high horse about the injustice that people of color have been suffering or any of the horrible things or violence and the lies told to support them that have been happening in this country, for a long time, and you want to speak out now but you don’t want any conflict about it, then we have a problem. If you are white or “Christian” or a “good person” or an educator or a parent or a voter and you haven’t been saying anything about this until now — and if now you are “speaking out” oh so carefully but making sure on your posts that you also say, “I don’t want any one debating me on this” and “it’s true for people on both sides of the fence” and “no negative comments please” — then you really DO NOT GET IT.

 

So go ahead — enjoy your comments that cost you nothing, enjoy your peaceful life with no debates and no questions and no dangerous protestations. Don’t worry about people who might wonder “where have you been up til now?” No need to feel bad or ask forgiveness or make changes if you make sure only your cheerleaders communicate with you. Continue to not offend anyone who might be a part of cutting your paycheck or a member of your in-group.

 

Just keep basking in those lots of likes about what a “nice” person you are, but please — know this — some people aren’t as stupid as you think and they do see through you. Not that you care, because your defenses for protecting yourself are as strong as your defenses of those who need your help are weak.

 

Some people are taking a stand — for decades — or at least at last — and even when they get knocked down — they get back up. When someone disagrees with them, they don’t back down and they don’t back away and they may even change their minds about something, or apologize or grow up and change for the better even.

 

Today it is vitally important that we listen and learn, and today it is time to listen and learn from black people, the Afro American communities who today will not ride in the back of the bus of your Facebook posts.

 

Black people and Jewish people and sojourners from other countries (usually brown people) at our borders have been trying to involve you in debate for years now — and not only have they had to put up with your own dissent, your negative comments, your disagreements your powerful silences in the face of their powerless silenced-ness — they have put their lives on the line.

 

To want to say whatever you want with the caveat that none of your friends or followers or anyone can debate or question you is a perfect example of white / “Christian” / American — whatever label you harbor to think you have the privilege to shut people up, to shut people down, to dismiss people who make you uncomfortable. To unfollow those who debate you, who question you, who make you think — that is the epitome of an abuse of power and a greedy need to be safe and liked and untouched. Your “good heart” in your posts that is untouchable and untouched is a stone not a heart.

 

This is not however how nations or communities or peoples survive or grow or get better from whatever ails them. It is not at all the best of what this country of America was formed to be — a democracy — debatable, questioned, continually questioned. It is not at the center of a sustainable world view or of a valid belief of any kind. It is a mockery of a religion, with its adherents “nice Inquisition-ists”. It is not however an example of the person so many want to quote but not follow who gave His life and His name to Christianity, a man full of debate and endlessly debatable and forever questioning. It is not a path to certainty or truth but a quicksand of thoughts supported only by one’s need to to be right despite any theories or facts to the contrary.

 

A nation that has stopped questioning itself will surely wither and die, alone and bereft. A person who believes in an unquestionable God who created unquestionable human beings has no hope in a future that consists of the Unknowable powers of faith, hope and love. A human being who stops questioning his own rightness is a king of fools.

 

If silence is agreement, then silencing someone else is an abuse of power — even if it is only the abuse of the power of your role in a group, of your relationship in a tribe or family or even of just one friendship.

 

Freedom of Speech and the ability to question authority — It is one of the things our founding forefathers tried to get right in the name of God and nation. It is one of the things our Creator tried to get right when She created human beings a little higher than the beasts and a little lower than the angels.

 

I am sorry my passion and questions disquiet some of you, I will listen to your requests to “not comment” but I certainly won’t be under the impression you mean all those “nice” things you are saying on behalf of others. Sorry — but real truth is meant to set us all free and real caring for others — enough to fight for them, speak for them, protest with them, change the world for them, love them — means, no protective armor for my own self-serving needs.

 

We have made a world where people are vulnerable because of their black skin color in a white world. Surely we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable for some black words on a white page.

 

And by the way, anyone who knows me knows, I would never dream of asking you not to debate or question or engage with my ideas in your desire to make me think. I would never unfriend someone for disagreeing with me and I am grateful not just for those who build me up with support and additional help but those who respect my ability to think and reason and maybe even change and who question or debate me. I may not agree with you but I will defend your right to speak out and disagree with me with my last Facebook breath.

Free speech sometimes is uncomfortable | News, Sports, Jobs ...

 

Teach Your Parents Well

Teach Your Parents Well

by Jane Tawel

June 6, 2020

 

A previous student of mine posted this today. Another day to thank the Dorsey Family for trying to teach me and help me. You know I was privileged to teach three of the Dorsey “kids” years ago, and I didn’t realize it then, but I do now — they began to teach me some truths during those years, and now they have become some of my best teachers at this critical point in my life and the life of this nation and the life of God’s Kingdom.

I can not even imagine what this feels like — generation after generation. This brings it home…

 

I wake up trying to fight and stand with, every day now, and I am so tired and exhausted and I say to myself — “you stupid baby — stop whining. Imagine being this exhausted by fighting every day of your life, every generation of your family, just because you woke up black today. Get over yourself, Jane Tawel! Time to wear out myself in this cause, and get off my old white duff.”

The time is now — it has to be– the time is now — don’t let any one tell you otherwise. May the spirit of Lord truly rise up, May His Kingdom be known by justice, truth and love on this planet, in this world, in His true people as it was meant to be, may we be fearfully aware that we will be judged by how we rise to this challenge in our own lives today, may we be fearfully aware we will be judged by the lies we let ourselves believe and live by, and may we be changed to Be the Change.

 

To my white friends — make yourself a student today of the experts — you can tell who they are by their skin color.

To my religious friends — make yourself a student today of The Expert– you can tell who that is by His Love.

To my American friends — make yourself a student today of the experts of a balanced and humbling History. — you can tell what that is by how uncomfortable it makes you.

 

And to young folks today — you are going to have to become quick studies but deep, wise thinkers in how to be the experts for making this world a better place for the future. Some of us old folks will try our best to help you — you can tell who we are by our humility and willingness to learn from you.
Love, hope, prayers, and I commit to continued action! — “Mrs. T”.

Black Lives Matter. Period. Full Stop

Black. Lives. Matter. Period. Full Stop.

by Jane Tawel

June 3, 2020

 

blacklivesmatter.

Yesterday, I read a great, helpful, and meaningful essay that was about Biden’s comments on blacks voting in the upcoming election, but the comment is very relevant for all of us who are not waking up black in America today. Something we need to take in as we speak and if we speak. And it was this: “The message may be right, but we are not the right messenger”.

You may philosophically be correct when you insist that “all lives matter”, but if you are just coming to that conclusion as a response, a rebuttal, or a pass card for your inaction or complacency, as a bait and switch to the idea that “black lives matter”, then you haven’t earned the right. You are changing the conversation because you feel uncomfortable with the reality.

If you have been out there in the trenches working for justice for people of color, acting to make changes in institutionalized racism, voting against people who are incapable of empathy or of upholding the values of the American Dream for all, or if you are truly living a life of servant-hood and service for people who have never had your advantages, then go for it. Speak away about “all lives”. If not, perhaps it is better to listen first to the experts and to ask yourself: Do I truly believe enough to take real action? Do I honestly believe that black people matter enough to stand up and stand with them? Have I tried to find out about the reasons black people feel the way they do? Do I believe they have a right to be angry, to be tired after years of fearfulness and racist policies and treatment, to be shocked at the violence allowed against them again and again and again, to be sorrowful, to feel helpless? Do I care enough to remember the times I have felt that way because of something in my own life, and take in the deep knowledge, that if I were black I would feel that way every day, year after year, century after century — what would THAT be like — to never believe my life mattered as much as someone else’s because I had black skin? Do I believe in the words of Jesus and the echoing message of John F. Kennedy that “to whom much is given, much is required”?

I have spent a lifetime in the lap of white privilege, so of course I have never had to say people my color matter. That is already a given in this country. It shouldn’t be so difficult for us to see that it has never been and still is not a given for people of color in America. I feel my own need to stand with, stand for not just “my black friends” but for all Black Americans, at this time and then to shut up and listen to their pain and to call out people for their acceptance of white privilege, and to call out racism, and to start finding real ways for me to get off my old white duff and DO SOMETHING.

I will not change the conversation by saying “all lives matter” because I live in a country that has never believed that is true. I will do my best to use my voice for the right fights at the right time. And as in any thing, I will listen to the experts before I chime in. I am so grateful that I have experts who are willing to speak truth to me and who know what they are talking about, because they have studied– day after day, taken life after taken life, fear and sorrow after more fears and sorrows — lessons learned the hard way in the hard halls of experience while being black in this world.

Are you listening to the experts on the black experience in America today? I pray to the God of all of us, that I will continue to speak, but that more importantly I will act for better justice and equality for black people. period. full stop. –in this, my nation, whose owing is way past due. #blacklivesmatter

 

Left Speechless but Speaking Out by a Humbled White Person

By Jane Tawel

June 1, 2020

My Father Could Have Been Killed By Police – STIR Journal

“Stir Journal”  2016

Left Speechless but Speaking Out by a Humbled White Person

By Jane Tawel

June 1, 2020

Remembering George Floyd: Devoted father, 'gentle giant' | USA ...

George Floyd, 2020

 

And so it is, as we see that black lives still don’t matter to my people, the white people; that social justice still does not matter to my people, the people in power; that we are all for equality as long as my people don’t have to give-up any thing to make America a more equal playing field for people; and so it is we see that Langston Hughes was right all those years ago:

 

“What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

 

Or does it explode?”

“Harlem”  by Langston Hughes (1951)

Local reaction on national riots following death of George Floyd ...

(FILE – Protesters demonstrate against the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis, Friday, May 29, 2020, in New York. The massive protests sweeping across U.S. cities follow the police killing of a black man in Minnesota. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

 

We see that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ever so right, was so right, when he wrote:

Let me say as I’ve always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. … But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. [Martin Luther King Jr., “The Other America”]

 

Years and years go by. . . deaths and deaths go by…. Are we really still surprised, when black people have to shout, still have to try to make themselves heard over our white complacency, still have to shock us as they cry out: “Can you hear me now?!”

 

We have failed to hear that we have not met our promises. People say, “oh but two wrongs don’t make a right”. But the question for me, a white woman grown up in America all these years, isn’t about being right – it is about being righteous.  Righteous indignation is all very well for a white person, but righteous action is what is needed now. My intellectual assent to what black people are feeling, or doing is all very well, but that doesn’t help them two bits worth if I do not act on that assent.  As it is said, “faith without works is dead”.

 

How dare we like spoiled children cry over our broken toys, more than we weep over the dead bodies of black boys and girls. How dare we demand self-righteously that the playground rules be changed to punish black people, and not ever demand just punishment for the white looters sitting in the halls of power, looting our democracy, looting our economy, looting our health system, looting the very foundations of any remaining morals this country might have tip-toed toward. The playground has never had fair rules for blacks and whites, because we white people hog all the swings and slides.  How dare we continue to let people keep killing our citizens just because they are black and then complain that they don’t know how to control their anger.  We dare because we are white.  It is that horrifically simple.

 

And so I am left speechless in the flood of prophetic, condemning, heart-breaking, angry, fearful, mournful and sorrowful words and actions, protests and riots, preaching and venting —  I read by and about and hear by and about black people in this nation. They are the stored words and feelings of centuries and they rise once more like a flood of tears that is never dammed.

 

Maitland, 1913 flood

“Maitland, 1913 flood” by maitland.city library is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

 

 

And yet, though I do not have the right, I have not earned it as I should, I was not born black with so few other equal rights other than the right to speak up on this now –I must speak. I will not stay silent just because it is not “my fight”, for until we white people make it our fight, nothing will ever change, as we have seen. I will not condemn the reactions of people whose shoes I have never walked in. I have never been black. I can try my hardest to walk in those shoes, but it will be an exercise in moral thinking only, not moral action, unless I am truly walking with, standing up for, acting for people of color.

 

But I have spent a lifetime walking in a white person’s shoes, and so I get to decide what it means to “walk the walk and not just talk the talk”. I get to decide what I believe my own life is worth.  Is my life merely worth the gathering of more stuff for me, the avoidance of conflicts that might be difficult, worth only the “niceness” of staying silent, and the ease of retiring into a life that was never all that hard to begin with?  Or is my life worth more than that?  Is my life worth believing that small people doing small things in the name of justice and truth and love, is the only real kind of life worth living?

 

So, I will speak when spoken to, and I will condemn and call out white people—my people–, no matter whether they are people I love or not. I will call-out white people who use racist language to defend their unease with black anger. I will call out those white folks who sit in judgement of others, while the giant planks in their own eyes prevent them from seeing their own sins against God and others.  I will call out the white pastors and white Christians who claim their rights to practice their religion and earn their salaries are more important than the death tolls, the health, the salaries, the murders of black people in this country.  I will call out those who listen but do not act.  I will call myself out, first and foremost.

 

And I will not stay silent when I grope for the words I continue to try to say to my black fellow Americans, to my black brothers and sisters, and forgive me for using a phrase that has given so many white people like me a false sense of solidarity, to my black friends:  Please forgive me. Please help me. Please.

 

I am so sorry. I am here and now accepting my own egregious culpability and the egregious culpability of my nation. I have tried to say many things during this time with words that will only remain pathetic if I don’t act. I speak as someone who has long believed in a world view that is only as good as it is acted upon. Unlike what you may be hearing from those who claim it today, the Judeo-Christian worldview is one of acting for love and truth and justice, against hatred and injustice and deceit. In fact, the only thing worth believing about God, Jesus or the Bible is that it doesn’t matter what we think, since in light of God we are all stupid.  It doesn’t matter what we believe if it doesn’t change us. The only thing that matters is that we humans are meant – required –to act out goodness – goodness for the whole earth, the whole world, good hearts and minds that translate directly into wills of loving actions for the betterment of all, but especially for those who have less than we do. Period.

 

So here are some thoughts related to a few things my black connections, and other people of color,  have been trying to help me with and that I have been struggling with. I don’t say that there are not white friends of mine who are also speaking out and speaking up and standing for, but they like I am, are the “roar of the crowd”; we are not the players who literally have skin in the game.

 

I have to start with my own worldview as shaped by American Christianity but which has drastically morphed in recent years, to something that I hope resembles more like what a real God, and real Savior, and a real Holy Book would teach.  If you believe in the truths about justice in the Bible, and the idea of how the world is supposed to be as Jesus taught, as I do, then we know that accordingly, the nations are continually and will be in the future judged. Check out the books of Amos and Isaiah and the words of Jesus, if you don’t believe me. America will be judged, and I think God will start with what we — our whole nation of white, colonizing, slave owning, genocidal, violent and silent– people have done to people of color, indigenous peoples,  and in this country, especially, to black people. It makes me tremble to hear people call this country “back to being” a Christian nation — it never was, never has been, never will be. Christianity is as Christianity DOES. As God has always called His people to do, we must decide “as for me and my house, who will I serve?” Will I serve the false idols of this nation, or serve the Lord? As all individuals from Abraham to Moses to Joshua to David to Jesus, we can choose to side with the power of a nation of kings who are not just, not truthful, not caring of the least of society, not “loving the whole world as God so loved the world”, a nation built on racism and greed. Or we can stand up and be counted. We can leave the  Babylon of our false religion, we can stop wandering in the wilderness of our grumbling and greed, or we can leave the Promised Land to those willing to risk for it.  But this is “religious” talk.  What is happening in our country today is about humans, and humanity, no matter what your beliefs and disbeliefs.

 

The transgressions and consequences of racism and violence of our nation continues and I can not imagine if I were black and having to witness atrocity after atrocity. But until everyone who is not a person of color, accepts their own responsibility, either by commission or omission, we will not know how to change. I must accept my own shame — we carry the sins of our fathers and mothers generation after generation. I carry the stain of my own prejudices, spoken or “only” thought. I carry the heavy cost of my own laziness in not fighting for others, silence in the face of pure evil, and for not mourning with so many people of color who continue to mourn, and mourn, and mourn.

 

 

I have no substantial say in my nation except with my vote and my money, but I do have a say before my God and my brothers and sisters, and fellow humans, and even a voice that should be heard by those who do not believe as I do. Perhaps they cannot believe in my God because they have suffered at the hands of this white “christian” nation for so long – and that is on me.

 

I am angry, and I am sorrowful. And I am so, so sorry for everything. To claim it is not “my fault” may have philosophical credence but it has no bearing on what must change in my own heart, my own life, and in the hearts and lives of this nation.

 

And to those who would see me as a spiritual person, I repent. And I confess my own sins humbly with repentance, for my owns sins of both commission and omission, done and left undone. I honestly believe, that in this life and the next, God will weigh us all in the balance. I know I, too deserve to be judged, for my prejudices, my racism, my not being who God has called us to be, and I pray that I might understand the weight of these words: “Repent and be saved. I, Jesus, do not judge you — so go and sin no more.” And sinning no more in white America today, means that I am also being told: “Now get out there and do something about this as God has commanded you to do.”

 

To look at oneself in the mirror of truth is to face one’s own hypocrisy. Black people in this country are understandably incensed not only at the institutionalized racism of centuries, at police murders of black people, of white racists killing innocent black people and getting away with it in the courts meant to uphold our laws, but they are also angry at the blatant hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is the other monster head on the Hydra of white privilege, hatred, inequality, and greed that lives and is fed in America.

 

I am finding that hypocrisy is one of the most difficult things to call people out on. It makes sense, because hypocrisy is not only in the very foundations of our egos, but is a founding father of this nation and of the major religion we claim as “Christianity”. Our foolish lazy stance that we are merely called to a belief in the idea of democracy but not a fight for it, and our complacent belief that we need not do anything other than pray to earn God’s favor, has led us to jump off the cliff of reason and understanding, and into a raging tide-pool of hypocritical insanity-producing self-justification and destructive false mores and unsustainable values.

 

My heart breaks most of all at what people are doing and not doing in the name of God or Christ. A white pastor I know and whose church I once attended, posted the other day to all his followers that maybe we should stop speaking out on social media and stop speaking out in the streets,  and try “listening”. Dear Lord, does this man not see his own complacent hypocrisy? Answer: no. The man has a cushy job in an all-white church with a house on a golf course (paid for in God-money) in a pretty much all white state – a place he fled to a few years back after Los Angeles got a bit too much for him. What black people is he “listening” to? I’ve tried calling him and others out before and they just delete or unfriend me. LOL! But isn’t it really the same for most of white people, we live in all white glass houses and throw rocks at the reactions of black people throwing rocks in riots?

Frankly, I’m always rather thankful when someone decides to “break up with me” over issues, because I feel I must be doing something, maybe even doing something right. Also, when someone unfriends or deletes me because they don’t like how angry I am, or my truth-telling, or my trying to discuss something I don’t agree with, then I get a little bit closer to understanding what is it to walk in the shoes of a person of color. To be shut down, to have no voice that is worth listening to, to be “listened to” and then ignored.  I can pity these people who decide I am not worth it, who think God’s love is for being nice, that God’s command to love others as self, is for Sunday pew sitting, and not protest marching, tables turned over righteousness. I am aware that I am being “deleted”, being dismissed, being shunned or judged because I am in-your-face angry. I can almost imagine how angry I’d be if I were black. When white people get upset and angry with black people for demanding truth, demanding righteousness, demanding change in thinking and acting, for “calling out” and calling to account our wrongs, our deeply entrenched problems, our race issues, and our “Christian” failings, do we not see our own hypocrisy?  Do black people also have prejudices, do they also make mistakes, do they also have to be accountable – why of course, but as a white woman, I take to heart these words from a person of color, Jesus Christ, who said “to whom much is given much will be required”.  Mea culpa.  Much is required of me and it’s time I started paying my dues, not just skimming off the top.

 

So we keep at it – all of us. Listening, yes, I am listening, but “faith without works is dead”.  And listening without change and action is like watching a meal without eating it.  It is like eating a communion wafer, the body of Christ given for us, without becoming the person of Christ, without acting out the life of Christ, suffering unto death for the love of others.

 

Ah, listening.  Is the corona virus “listening” as more people of color die than white people do because of years of entrenched greed and racism and institutionalized inequality? Did the cops “listen” to any single one of the black men and women they have pulled over for being black, arrested for being black, killed for being black? Did they “listen” when they heard George Floyd cry, “I can’t breath”? Are our government leaders “listening”? Are schools and those who will educate the future “listening”? If they are truly listening, they will hear the thunder of the waves — the flood is here–and they –we– will all DO SOMETHING. It is not time to take cover, white folks, it is time to fix the broken dams.

 

Who do we admire, black and white folks alike?  Gandhi? Mother Teresa? Abraham Lincoln? Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Did they merely listen and then “pray” or “discuss” or “promise change for the future”?  How about Jesus? Did Jesus just “listen”? Heck no, He led a one-man riot, he turned over the tables, folks. Jesus actually lived out his whole life as a single-handed protest against racism, injustice, and greed and pride. There was no one who understood better than The Son of God what having great power means and so he used it by laying it down for the least of the least in this world. There was no one who suffered more at the hands of conspiracy theories and racism and false religious leaders and persecution than the Son of God. How dare we treat him with such contempt today with our hypocrisy of inaction.

Revised Common Lectionary ~ Turning the tables edition ...

Revised Common Lectionary ~ Turning the tables edition

 

We have got to stop giving powerful or entitled people the “pass card” on their actions (or inactions) and for us white folks, we must stop giving people the green light on their hypocrisy. I confess humbly, that it is easy now at my age, with my color, in my place to speak out. Far too easy compared to George Floyd, a black man who cried, “I can’t breathe”.  It’s kind of a relief that all the “Christian” places and the schools that I used to work for “let me go” for being a bit radical, a bit different, for speaking out, for questioning authority, for protesting.  I’m not complaining as it has helped me understand prejudice more intimately. I don’t have to weigh any more who might read my posts and decide that students or other “Christians”  “can’t handle” something or that hard truths are merely “opinions” that should be kept to oneself, or worst of all – that Jesus came to preach “why can’t we all just get along?”, which is the very last thing Jesus would have said.

What Jesus did say was, Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”  What Jesus did say was, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

White folks, we keep “swallowing camels” and “straining out gnats”. And that is the truth we seem unable to “swallow”.

 

What students can’t handle – what young people today can not tolerate – what people who do not believe in the religions of today can not stomach, what people of color cannot swallow — is the broken world we are leaving them and the excuses we are still clinging to.

So, you are right, no matter how the words may come out, my friends, to call out and call to account each other and ourselves. We must all call-out folks, but let’s start with calling out our own folks. Let’s call out especially educators of young minds and hearts, especially white people, especially self-proclaimed religious people, especially powerful leaders, especially the “listeners” and not “doers”.

When there is a seismic earthquake going on in this country, a destruction of the very foundations of morality and democracy, then people can’t keep silent. We can’t just enjoy sharing recipes. It’s why it has all been a “recipe for disaster” — our complacent acceptance and our soul-destroying hypocrisy of those who are privileged to live white. The foundation is crumbling folks, don’t keep painting over the dirty walls.

 

I am calling out myself, because it has always been easier for me, a white woman, an American, a “Christian”, to speak out and speak up. It has always been easier for me to post and write things like this than it has been for a black person, a person of color, a Muslim or Jew, or an immigrant. I refuse to give myself a pass card, and don’t you either, my friend, “To those who have been given much, much will be required”.

 

Thank you to the black people, to all the people of color, in America today, throughout the world, in fact, who love me enough to speak out and to speak truth.  Who care enough to believe that I can change. Thank you. Be brave, be safe.

 

Thank you to all the black and yes, white people who have been acting in ways seen and unseen for all these years to bring justice home to America in real ways. Be tireless in doing good, be hopeful.

 

I will continue to think and pray, listen and take in, and find ways to actually ACT, not just talk and write. I will keep listening and keep listening and never feel that it is my right as a white person to be tired of listening. I will mourn in anger and sorrow with black mothers and fathers and spouses and children and friends across this nation for the terrorism and tragedies that no one should have to endure time and time again.

 

And I will act, without knowing for certain whether it is the “right thing” to do, but with the hopeful assurance that it is the “righteous” thing to do.

 

 

~~ “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

(Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quoting the ancient prophet, Amos)

~~ May it be so ~~ Jane

River And Dam View #1

“River And Dam View #1” by star_cosmos_bleu is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0