Revelations from the Eye of the Storm

The Exercise

I had a discussion recently with a white male friend of mine about the different perspectives people can have based on their life experiences. The conversation led to him sharing how he knew he was a beneficiary of white male privilege in America and how that privilege has led to a disconnect sometimes when it comes to him understanding the Black perspective. The next day he sent me a couple of different links to videos of Jane Elliot’s “Brown Eyed/ Blued Eyed” exercises. Some of you may be familiar with the work of Jane Elliot but in case you are not, she is an educator that has done some good work on exposing the racism innate in American culture. Her work began the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. She did an exercise with her primary school students, who were all white, to help them understand the struggle Dr. King was involved in, which ultimately cost him his life.

In her exercise, she poses two groups against the other; one group represents people of color (brown-eyed participants) and one group represents white people (blued-eyed participants). Jane Elliot then has the brown-eyed group partner with her as she subjects the blue-eyed group to the reality of American racism as experienced historically by America’s non-white citizens. It was very surprising to see the level of anger and frustration exhibited by the Blue eyed participants as Jane treated them with contempt and disrespect, even though they had been forewarned and knew it was a staged exercise. For me, it had the effect of validating my own experiences in a new way. The experiment showed me how mentally disruptive even small doses of racism could be on its victims in less than 30 minutes, not to mention its potential impact when endured for over 400 plus years. I always knew that Black people were strong, but it was illuminated in a whole new way as I watched people buckle under weights I carried as a child; weights that only got heavier with the increased gravity that comes with age and the responsibilities of life. It reinforced the belief I have that if all men are created equal, then there are external forces creating the large disparities seen throughout American society.

The impetus of racism is the need to justify a system of oppression. Ta-Nehisi Coates in an article from “The Atlantic” quotes David Blight, A Yale Professor, on the subject of The Civil War and Reconstruction. Blight says that at the maturation of Slavery in America it was the largest financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth upwards of $3.5 billion, exceeding the profits of all manufacturing and railroads combined. The bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. This would explain America’s wicked obsession with oppression as a means to profit. See Ava Duvernay’s “13th” production for a well-documented illustration of this point. Racism is perpetuated in America because oppression is still government policy. How can the poor and oppressed gain equality in a society where law and law enforcement favors the rich? Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He is also an American lawyer and Social Justice Activist. Bryan states that in the USA you are treated better if you are wealthy and guilty, than if you are poor and innocent.

If equality in the pursuit of happiness is to become a realization, the epidemic heart disease of greed must be dealt with. Greed is incubated and hatched through selfishness and nourished by fear. Desire infected with greed distorts perception and perverts judgment. The only cure is Love. Love breaks the power of selfishness and eliminates fear. The kind of Love as taught through biblical principles. The love that gives at the expense of self for the benefit of all, contrary to selfishness which takes for the benefit of self without consideration for anyone else. The false dearth created through racism will continue to ravish society, until we all learn to love one another as ourselves. There is but one race, the human race.

[Image is from janeelliott.com]

 

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Where Do We Go from Here?

GOP 2016 Trump

When trying to reach a destination, knowing where you are is just as essential as knowing where you are going. For those who were unsure, as well as for those who were disillusioned, it has become very apparent where we are in America; divided. America is so divided that her history is told differently by her native-born people based on their race, gender, or religion. The different accounts of history do not result from just varied opinions but is rather the result of how the American government has chosen to unequally extend rights and privileges to its diverse population. The disparities created by this inequality have subjected the people of America to distinctly different experiences based on their race, gender, and in some cases their religion. This discrimination also accounts for the different levels of patriotism visible in America today. America’s division is directly due to the inequalities created and sustained by government policies that were never intended to provide equal opportunity to all people in their pursuit of happiness. This is where we are in America and it is where we will remain, until all of its people are ready to accept the liberating truth. I say liberating because we will be stuck in this divided state until we acknowledge that we are here and acknowledge that the founders of this country were racist and sexist, and enacted governing policies reflective of that.

When you study American history, you find that after America won its independence, it took almost a century and a half before the basic freedoms of American citizenship were enjoyed by anyone other than white males. These basic freedoms still had to be fought for and gained by native-born Women, Blacks, and Native Americans. The aforementioned demographics were not included in the vision under the Constitution for liberty and justice for all. As such, they were excluded from the rights and privileges protected under the constitution. This exclusion of rights to some groups wasn’t an oversight; it was intentional. Bearing this in mind, we have to be careful when we say we want the Constitution interpreted in the same mind as the generation that drafted it. It is very clear that the men that drafted the Constitution didn’t consider women or people of other races as equals, hence unworthy of the same rights and privileges. When people refer to a point in history where America was considered to be great, it is false if the wealth and strength was not equally available for all to enjoy. The people of this land make up America, for America to be great ALL of its people must be great. When we look at American history from a perspective that takes into account the journey of ALL its citizens, we see there is nothing in the past to return to. If Americans continue to dismiss the inequalities permeated from its origins then we will never mend the divide and neither a house nor a nation divided can stand.

One factor that obscures American history from being seen in true light is the deception of America’s heritage as a Christian nation. If you define Christianity in terms of the teachings of Christ, then America’s historical treatment of people is not in line with Christianity. Were followers of Christ around at the founding of this country?…I am certain there were. Did the presence of these Christians have enough influence on American society for it to be called a Christian nation?… Absolutely not! One of the foundational principles of Christianity is that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t think I have to make an argument for how un-neighborly America has been to Native Americans or to Blacks or to minority immigrants. The other major tenant of Christianity is that Christians are to love GOD with all their heart, mind, and strength. Christ measures love for GOD in relation to obeying of His commandments…does America or has America ever put all her strength toward keeping GOD’s commandments?…Let us not even go there. The standards of a Christian nation should be set by their GOD not by comparison to how other countries treat their people. It’s time to awake!

Christians should be leading the charge in this country towards peace and unity. Based on our intimate knowledge of the love and teachings of Christ, we should be the best equipped for loving our neighbors as ourselves. We should be best equipped with the humility and compassion involved in putting ourselves in the place of others to understand their condition that we might know better how to relate to them, in order to pray for them and to offer them what they are missing of the life that Christ sacrificed for them to enjoy. Instead, I am seeing so-called soldiers of Christ immersed in secular skirmishes, slinging mud with the republican and democratic parties. Instead of aligning themselves with the Kingdom of GOD, I see Christians aligning themselves with political parties through promoting particular party viewpoints and echoing news articles reporting on all the political rubbish that is common place during election years. Regardless of who gets into the office of President, our foe remains the same. Our battle is against spiritual wickedness working to divide and conquer. Our enemies are not white people or black people or Democrats or Republicans or Muslims or Police. None of those groups are responsible for keeping us divided. The real enemies that keep us divided are the enemies of Love: they are hate, fear, greed, selfishness, lies, deception, despair, envy, unfaithfulness, and idolatry just to name a few. These are issues of the heart that can be present in any man regardless of race, gender, financial status, or party affiliation.

As Christians, we have to be in the battle to free hearts for the Kingdom of GOD. Christ taught,

“What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

These are the things that corrupt men and corrupt men spread corruption throughout countries.

The only way America will be great is by repenting of its evils. 2 Chronicles 7:14,

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 

Scale Social Walls for a Better View

the wall

If you believe that all men are created equal, then you have to take a look at the outside influences that have shaped the differences we see between people in our society. It’s easy to just label people based on what you see today, however the current view of a person has to come from a perspective that takes their history into consideration. Once you begin to understand the historical socio-economic factors surrounding the different groups in our society, you get a better understanding of the disparities that exist today. You also get a better picture of who the people are. You may find that some of the people you thought were inferior are actually pretty tenacious and some of the people you thought were exceptional had unfair advantages.

Consider the fact that the police force in this country, from its inception, was established to sustain the viability of commerce. The interest of our law enforcement agencies has always been mercantile first. Once you understand this it becomes clear who the officers are on patrol to protect and serve. This also shines light on the police profiling that has taken place in our society since the formation of law enforcement agencies. Commerce has and still holds low-cost labor as the key to maximum profitability. The ability of businesses to control the workforce ensures a level of control over profitability. The demand for a low cost workforce in this country has always been filled systematically by Blacks and immigrants. As such, controls on this targeted population have always been the focal point of the police force. Any attempts by Blacks and immigrants to organize, protest, or riot as a result of unfair or unsafe work conditions have always been deterred forcibly by the police force. This relationship between the police departments and those that fit the profile of low-income earners has eroded to what we see today and it is all still backed by commerce with its great influence in our government and court systems.

Civility in a society is determined by the law that governs. When you live in a country that has a history of laws rooted in inequality for its people, then the civil treatment of people becomes relative to the subject. This explains why the court system in our country has scales that aren’t balanced in determining justice for all. Murder is defined as the deliberate killing of another person. When a country has historically dehumanized a particular ethnic group by racism, it follows that this country may not rule it murder when this dehumanized ethnic group is killed deliberately; especially when killed by government employees. This is what I believe Dr. King was referring to when he said, “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide”. He used Nazi Germany as the case study.

What we are witnessing in this country is a continuation of what has been practiced from its founding. The insinuation that the US was once great and that this country has strayed from the virtue that was present at its founding is a sentiment lodged in the heart of the privileged and reflects the intrinsic inequality in our society that divides the “US” from them. The solution is a government with a true intent to establish equality for all and federal enforcement of the laws and policies to make it real for all people.

Fire is difficult to produce where there is no friction. The social practices that spark rioting in our society must be condemned in the same fervor at which rioting itself is condemned. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” I don’t condone rioting any more than I condone the marginalizing of the lives of one group to promote the wellbeing of another. Until all the people of this world come to the understanding that we all collectively make up one body, we will remain divided to the endangerment of human life as a whole.

The KISS of Salvation

HersheysKiss_2

We definitely have a part in our salvation. One of the main evidences of this is that all men will not be saved. The scripture is clear that God would have all men to be saved as in the Book of 1 Timothy 2:1-6. What keeps all men from being saved is the fact that the Lord gives us a choice and some men opt out. God has ordained that we enter life (Jesus Christ) through the surrender of our will. If you think about it, it is the only way we can be saved. God is LIFE and we have to be willing to follow the ways of life in order to live. If we refuse to follow the ways of life then what is the alternative…..Death. It really is that simple. The beauty is that as we surrender our will to God He empowers us to live in His ways. He empowers us through the spirit in the word we submit too through obedience. The Lord says His word is spirit. So our part is to daily surrender our will in obedience to the leading of the spirit expressed through written word, audible word, inner witness, signs and examples through creation; however the Lord chooses to influence us toward life. When the Lord causes light to shine in your darkness it is your part to surrender to it.

 

Now some men would argue that we have no power to choose that which is good because we are totally evil or dead in sin. It is apparent that the expressions of God to us have enough power to pierce our darkness and penetrate dead ears to give us acknowledgement of truth. The reprobate mind is one that rejects truth after it has been presented several times. It cracks me up sometimes to see how the intellectual mind can perplex things due to too much contemplation and not enough doing or simply trusting. We are warned in 2 Timothy about the effects of too much dialogue through the reasoning of men versus studying word of truth.

 

2 Timothy 2: 15-26

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

 

The word of truth is the word of God. We need to be patient and temperate and allow God to give us proper understanding instead of immersing ourselves in the mental babbling of men trying to force understanding, moving ahead of the wonderful counselor. Always being able to give a reason for the hope you have to anyone that asks is not referring to being able to explain everything you believe. The reason for your hope should be that you are convinced of God’s indestructible love for you because He died for you while you were His enemy, so you know all the more now that you are seeking Him He will facilitate your salvation and redemption. God has won our hearts through Christ so we follow Him even in that which is unreasonable. The mind has to be renewed but the heart is already on fire and convinced that is if you have heard Him speak of His amazing love. What I am talking about is nicely captured in Hebrews 13.

 

Hebrew 13:9

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

 

We have to fight the natural man’s tendency of reaching for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil or wanting to lean on our own understanding versus just trusting the Lord as dear children. By the grace of God let us K-I-S-S (Keep It Simple Saints).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Of Good Courage

It is natural to experience disappointment when our hopes are crushed. Even when we have understood all along from past experience that it was likely we would be let down. The next thing we realize is that our hearts are heavy and our joy is diminished. This is why the word of God instructs us in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our hearts with all diligence.

“Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.”

One of the key ways to guard our hearts is to be careful when placing hope. I Corinthians 15:19 says,

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

If our hope does not extend beyond the physical life that we now live then it is guaranteed that we will be miserable in life because some prayers and hopes will be fulfilled on the other side. Herein is the patience of the saints of God. It reminds me of the two Disciples of Christ that were walking down the road away from Jerusalem where their hopes had been crushed by the governing bodies of their day which had just wrongfully crucified Jesus. The two disciples had hoped that the man who was killed would be the one to redeem Israel. When the man was crucified, so were their hopes for the redemption of Israel. While still traveling away from Jerusalem the two disciples were reproved by the resurrected redeemer Jesus Christ for not trusting in what the scriptures had promised regardless of how things appeared. This account is recorded in Luke 24.

In this life we will witness great evil and injustice but we can’t allow it to steal our hopes that in the very end of this age God will set all things right. We must shield our hearts with this hope that our joy might remain full and we don’t become sad and down cast like the two disciples leaving Jerusalem.  It is the plan of Satan to overthrow your hope with evil to the end that your hearts become hardened and you lose faith in God’s sovereignty. When we doubt God’s sovereignty we are apt to take things into our own hands and Satan knows that produces death. We guard our hearts to keep seeds of doubt, unbelief, fear, hate and other evils from being sown into it. Let the words in John 16:33 as spoken by Jesus before His crucifixion always strengthen you.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The Human Race

We are one. The reality of this truth always hits home when there is an attack on society outside of what we consider a war zone. War is tragic but assault on the civilian population is truly an act of terrorism. As I contemplate the events in Boston I know somewhere else in the world there was probably another attack on society just as heinous a day or two before and perhaps since. The question is…do we mourn for the losses of others as we do our own. Until we learn to share the pain of the rest of our human family we will not began to eliminate what is at the root of the suffering. What is the problem? A house divided cannot stand. Human kind is just too divided. Private interest and insensitivity to the lives of others are taking their toll. This division is why we live in such a violent world. The lack of love for one another is giving way to hate and destruction. The prevalence of selfishness and hate in our society is a direct result of the inability to grasp the fact that we are all human. Our different languages and skin tones and cultures have become more significant than the fact that we are one. What affects one of us, though it may not be immediately perceivable, affects all of us. Just like the human body, if one part is injured eventually it will affect the health of the whole body if not cared for. Like an infection that produces a fever and then convulsions throughout the body and once the poison has spread then death. If we could all see ourselves as part of one body we would care more about each body member. After all, what person in their right mind neglects their own body? I know…that is also part of the problem.

Humans are guilty of violating the two laws of sustainable living. What I have been writing about so far in this post is the infraction of the first law. The first law of sustainable living is to love our neighbors as our own selves. Not merely our neighbors next door but our neighbors over in the next county, state, or country. Not merely our neighbors that look like us and talk like us but our neighbors of different ethnicity and culture. American foreign policy lacks this principle of love but even closer to home, what does our individual foreign policy look like. How often do we pray for the human right violations that occur in the different zip codes and time zones around the world? Prayer brings me to the second law of sustainable living. The second law of sustainable living is that we are to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. If we do not love God in this way we will never fulfill the first law. God is the Creator, if we do not love the Creator we will not have respect for what He has created. If you love the Father then you will love His children. Keeping the two laws of sustainable living, given to us by the Creator, is the only way to win the race. God is Love and it is only through being reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus that we have the power to truly love our neighbor. May God help us to love our neighbors across the finish line until we win the human race.

Matthew 22:36-40

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, You shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, You shall love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.