American is experiencing the most perilous of times in recent history as the result of its president, Donald Trump. Even though Monday morning he stepped forward to speak against the weekends hate crimes, it lacks residence because of the hate that has been reverberating since his stance against the Central Park Five, ascendance in the GOP with the birther inquisition of Barack Obama, and not immediately condemning the chants of “send her back” aimed one of this targets of the four congressional women of Congress for doing their job. It remains jarring how he and the leadership of the GOP’s lack human decency by caging children at the border and proclaiming that Baltimore a predominately African-American city was a place where no humans should live. These hateful words are intentional verbal terrorism to inflame his base and continue to labor some human beings as unworthy of being in the same race as white Americans. What is equally puzzling is the silence of the White Evangelical church in which 81% supports and believes that he has been called by God.
These blatant domesticterrorist attacks, being exercised by White supremacists best known as the KuKlux Klan and the Nazis, are embedded deeply it how they understand God,practice Christianity and see humanity. And, yet, there are other socialjustice faith leaders who are grappling with this torture and how to convey themessage of God’s, resulting in a divided gospel.
In the New Testament gospelof Mark 12:28-33, a scholar and scribe, out of curiosity, questioned Jesus,‘which out of all the commandments is the most important?’ Jesus responds with two statements. The firstis how you are to love the “Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, yoursoul and your strength.” The second one is to” love your neighbor like you loveyourself’. The implication is very powerful because what it means is to beauthentically a follower of Jesus, means I have to know how to love me before Ican love you.
I recently had a ratherchallenging dinner conversation with a young Jewish member of the GOP, who Iconsider close family. He questioned why continuously refer to this presidentas “it”. He asked, “as a Christian (that believes in the same teaching in theTorah) isn’t the fundamental teaching of our faith love? If so, are you notbeing equally divisive in referring to Donald Trump as an “it” and the GOP asthem?” My rapid response was human beings don’t spark flames of hatred. Theywould not find any justification in anyone that assembles to chant Jews willnot replace us, say that there were very fine people on both sides, callMexican’s rapists and target Muslims. Those who have a soul would condemn theacrimony so that it wouldn’t ignite a fire.
The Civil Rights movementwasn’t driven by policy experts. It was accomplished by people who actuallypracticed their faith in love. The movement was filled with the love of Iman’sand Rabbi’s, Catholic and Orthodox Priest, Unitarians and Muslim, Baptist andHindus, and Atheist and Quakers. There were Black women frying chicken, whitewomen making cold cut sandwiches, gay men organizing and lesbian womenstrategizing. They galvanized together to enact laws because there were racistsWhite Americans who lacked civility. The laws had to be created to protectthose whom they dehumanized with Jim Crown, the violence of rape and torture ofdeath.
The preaching of “whosoevershall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”, is no longerapplicable in these times. There’s nolonger the tolerance to mount a non-violence movement or foot soldiers inprotest when the evidence is clear that this venom embodied in these white-skinindividuals are filled with intentional rage, injustice and violence, againsteveryone that isn’t a pure American of Anglo-Saxon decent. Yes, there are few who Blacks that aregetting passes but I learned early in life that there was no difference betweenhouse slaves and those in the field. The white supremacists categorically deemthem all as subhuman.
After I stepped away andreflected on my dinner conversation, I realized that my retort to these timeshave caused me to depart from the most essential and guiding principle of myfaith. With all that the raced baited massacres in El Paso, Texas and Dayton,Ohio by White males ages 21 and 24 in the last 48 hours, I’m wrestling with howdo you continue to offer love to those who are responsible for the spillage ofyour brother’s blood-shed on the ground? How do, I, as a social justiceintellectual and faith leader provide guidance that teaches how to love thosewho persecute you and speak all manner of evil against you? How do I lean in tofind similarity with those who say that the believe in the same Jesus that manynon-White American’s serve? If this gospel can’t unite us, especially, in timeslike this, then what can?
Anger and Love have nolimits especially when it is seeded in fear and one’s misappropriated religion.The scribes were so caught up on the rules, which made up the religion, thatthey had fallen short on knowing how to have relationship with God, themselvesand their neighbor.
There no negating thereality of the fear of a group of White Americans being left in poverty. According to the Center on Budget and PolicyPriorities, White people are 52 percent of people lifted from poverty bysafety-net programs, while Black people made up less than a quarter of thatshare. When it comes to receiving Medicaid, Whites make up about 43percent of recipients, Hispanics about 30 percent, African-Americans 18percent, with 9 percent identified as other. It isobvious that their concerns are valid.However, it is unfortunate that their anger is misappropriated. It should bedirected towards the White men, like Donald Trump, who are more focused ontheir own wealth than strengthening and providing economic opportunities forthese White Americans.
Sunday morning, I awakenedto learned of the Dayton, Ohio massacre, where I graduated high school. Myclose group of friends immediately began to check on those who still residethere. We learned of several recent insistences of targeted violence in Dayton.When I learned that one of my sister-friends and her family were literally nextdoor to where the shooting happened, I literally began to weep because she’sfamily. Of the five us, who have been friends now over 35 years, I’m on theAfrican American. And, yes, race shows up because we have fluid conversations. However,what has kept our bond with our religious, sexuality and political partydifferences is love.
It was then that I realized that perhaps the answer is larger than what’s in the written text and made doctrines. The defining moments to overcome hate will be from what is written with love in our hearts. Maybe we can organize a healing, peace and love march with American presidents, Baraka and Michelle Obama standing alongside GeorgeW. and Laura Bush? Though they had many differences, they served the UnitesStates of America honoring a commitment of justice, equality and love for all.