Tuesday, August 6, 2019

We Don’t Have Presidents Where I Come From

We don’t have Presidents where I come from
Only commanders
Men that grew only vertically 
Foresight and morality have been wrung out of their lives like a hand washed cloth
And the threads that remain are dyed with thoughts of green money and red blood conceived in evil places
They subdue, subject, subvert, pervert
They sell visions, operations, millennium development goals
But for all their planting we reap dust and fear
We don’t have Presidents where I come from
We have bloodthirsty men, necks thickened on the marrow of the young of the nation
Bellies full of the wealth of the nation
Soiled hands wrapped around the future of the nation
And all the while
We are crying
Get off
Get off
Get off

Friday, April 22, 2016

When Blood Falls

When blood falls on the ground
It is not like water that soaks in and finds a tree to give life to. 
Blood doesn't grow trees. 
Blood sinks down into the soil like heavy suffering 
Then it screams from underneath until it breaks the ground above 
Water dissipates and is no longer seen. 
Blood turns darker and darker and darker. 
Water joins the air and the soil, cycling with the seasons.
Blood cannot join the air. 
Blood cannot join the soil. 
Blood cannot keep quiet
From it's urgent, repetitive screaming
Lest the ground above it should have any peace, or any quiet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I'm calm.

I just ate breakfast, and I haven’t been dying to find the words that express my opinion in the most factual way possible, to win you over to my side.

I want to write, and I want you to read, with our preconceived notions tucked away. If you pretend that I’m a neutral analyst, I will proceed to write without assuming that you’re an extremist who I need to convince of something, and just get to the point.

Yesterday, the amount of racism on my timeline was dizzying. But we’re going to not call it racism. That’s become a term which, like its friends, feminism and homophobia, is subject to much misconception and always seems more accusatory to one group of people. Let’s call it what it is - hatred. The amount of hatred on my timeline was dizzying.
If I can paraphrase an emotion-free, expletive-free version of the two sides that made the loudest noise:

Side 1: Black lives don’t seem to matter. The police cannot be trusted. Black people need to fight back.

Side 2: Mike Brown was a thug. Good for the police, doing their job. Black people need to calm down.

And the most mysterious group of all:

Side 3: Woohoo, Thanksgiving is around the corner!

If an aficionado from side 1 and side 2 were put in a room together last night, their meeting would have begun with tense politeness, but in the end, hair would have been pulled, fists raised, and someone killed.

In spite of this, we all know that the only way forward is the healing of racial disparities, and that the healing of racial disparities can only happen when people are able to come together. And we must. We always must. Keeping our distance is not the answer. Oh it’s peaceful, and it’s safe, but the deep-seated distrust will still be there, and the hate will dissipate to allow coexistence, only to be easily roused upon the slightest provocation.
We must come together. To remain separate is to stew in your frustrations and allow more vicious and more polarized thoughts to develop. It is to make yourself less and less approachable, less and less able to communicate your points to people who see things differently, and in essence, less and less able to positively affect a situation or bring about any change. Hatred begets more hatred. Anger produces more anger. Opinion brings about more opinion.

But how do people come together in times like these?
When we’re all angry, how do we deal with one another?

The answer itself is not complicated. It’s obviously love. Not the make-believe, romantic television thing that people do. Love. Deep humility. Refusing to stop hoping, bearing, trusting, believing for better, and persevering. Self-sacrifice. It’s the doing it that presents a problem. Specifically, doing it when you’re feeling wronged, or when you’re feeling like other people are being ridiculous.

Can I suggest, that it doesn't matter who’s right or wrong? For one, we will never know. Between the media, and public personalities abusing the situation to sell news stories and tip the political scales, we will never know what actually happened. What we are faced with right now, what we have to react to, are one group of angry, hurting people, and another group of people who are offended at the accusations being thrown at them, and tired of being seen as the privileged problem. Whether or not either group has a true right to be angry is less important than addressing those feelings. The fact is that they are angry, and arguing with them about how they should feel is only going to heighten their defensiveness. No one wants to be put in a corner. It may make you feel better to tell people off, but it makes them feel worse, and widens the divide between you and them. 

What are we going to do with them?

Love them. And we cannot love them if they are unwilling to have anything to do with us. If we approach them with a view that is opposite to theirs, and come in with a bullish, I’m-going-to-show-you-what’s-wrong-with-your-thinking-you-narrow-minded-prick attitude, guess what? They will not want to have anything to do with us. Love them. It will help them, and more than you expect, it will help you.

So, side 3 people. The happy-go-lucky folks who don’t give a hoot what’s happening in the world, (OK, that was an unfair jab, and a deviation from the non-judgmental stance I assumed at the beginning, forgive me.) this will be easiest for you. You have no vested interest, and can easily love both parties.
Side 1 people. Oh, side 1 people. It’s hardest for you. It’s injustice, it’s happening all over again, this is a repeat of what has been going on, and what you will continue to face. But the one who loves the hardest, wins.
Side 2 people. You’re annoyed. You get accused of all sorts of injustices and it’s as though if you so much as open your mouth in self-defense you’re labeled, and tweeted about as an ignorant bigot. But the one who loves the hardest, wins.

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears A Crown

Images depicting the weight of presidential authority.

Kennedy's son gives a salute at his father's funeral.
President Richard Nixon delivers his resignation speech in the wake of the Watergate Scandal, as Mrs. Nixon fights back tears. Harry Benson, 1974.
Bill Clinton during a campaign trail in Massachusetts. Dan Habib, 1992
President Bush receives the information that the second plane has hit the World Trade Center. Win McNamee.

President Barack Obama and staff watching the Bin Laden raid.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dancing Off-Beat

“... but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:2-3

I read it, and the jealousy stung. I felt like such a total striving lunatic. I didn't know what I was doing. Here I was chasing after the wind, looking for God in the works of my hands, finding application for Him in the various things I had going on. Instead of being hopelessly delighted with Him, dancing into the plans He had for me, I was trying to get across the dance-floor without listening to the music, totally off-beat, into nothing exciting, anxiously looking over my shoulder every once in a while to see if the Lord of the dance was still there.

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray” Job 6:24

I remembered a time when I didn't have to see where He fit into things, because He was the thing, and everything else found its place in Him. I blamed it on school. I thought about what a week in my life looked like: classes, research, eating, phone conversations, browsing the web, homework, grading, thinking about working out, remembering to pray, and going to sleep.

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17

I felt so sad. Was the Holy Spirit given in such a dramatic turn of events so that I could zombie through life, doing my part to keep the system going, and doing the bare minimum to make it to heaven? There was nothing abundant about my life. Joy wasn't overflowing. I had gotten caught up in all the things He had given to me, and lost sight of Him, and now nothing had value. But my busyness was real. There were tangible things that needed to be done. So did God fill my life with things in order to lessen the depth of His relationship with me? Aren't we supposed to go from grace to grace, and from glory to glory? Surely the sign of growth in my life was to see an increase in God’s presence, not a decrease. So why was I running around doing things, being tired, feeling guilty, and not able to pass the glass ceiling to “come up higher” like I felt God calling me to?

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7

I was so frantic at the thought of getting things wrong in the spiritual arena that I probably couldn't have heard the voice of God even if He shouted. 

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7

What if I’d lost Him? What if I was never able to walk in step with the Spirit again? What if I was going to be stuck having a monotonous life, being a church attendant with no personal relationship with God, no growth and no impact?

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son-ship.” Romans 8:15

I wasn't seeing God for who He was – faithful, loving, patient, long-suffering, not out to punish but out to help. Yet in spite of my lack of insight, here He was, calling me again. I began to realize that the situation wasn't a sorry loss, but the exposure of a hunger. The pangs of a deep thirst for the Spirit of God and my need of a major dunking into the sea of His grace. Instead of settling for less than I have been given, I want to live in the fullness of what Christ bought us by the shedding of His blood, and by sending the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to see the promises of God on the pages of a book, hear the testimonies of His love, marvel, and then walk away into some subservient life. And He doesn't want that either. But if His grace is to flow into all areas of our lives, we have to be filled with it, and to be filled with it, we have to give ourselves first to Him, then to Him, then to Him, then to Him.

Break up your unplowed ground. For it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12