I have sat down on three separate occasions this week to write this blog; each time I found myself getting mired down in the politics of the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is so easy to waylay myself by engaging in the political rhetoric that accompanies a horrific event. The darkness of hate blinds me to the truth. I become confused, allowing this blindness to circumvent truth. Truth is truly what I seek when confronted by a reality of hate. As I see it, Americans have an ideological division in how we interpret social and economic class. This division has a base along racial lines, but it is no longer dependent on the actual race of individuals, except for white supremacist. White supremacists are partially what they claim to be, that is, white. As for supreme, I seriously question their self-interpretation as protectors of “white” culture and supremacy as a part of their blood lineage. As far as I know white does not possess an ethnic culture. I am white and I am an American. My heritage is known because I am privileged to not have had it stolen from me. On the other hand, my husband’s lineage is Acadian. The British attempted to steal their identity by sending them throughout the British Colonies as indentured servants and slaves. The French and Spanish, who ruled over the Louisiana territory, helped these Acadians as they found their way out of bondage. Spain offered a sanctuary in south Louisiana to bring farmers to help produce food necessary for an increasing population. Aided by these imperial governments, they developed family registries to connect and reestablish families as well as their culture. These efforts resulted in a flourishing community. While yes, something was stolen, something too was offered. I do not believe that the same can be said for descendants of slavery in the United States and Caribbean. Generations of people and family disappeared and heritage lost. The moral development of all Americans today is tied to this theft of personal freedom. This has effected every aspect of American cultural development. Oppression has existed in the United States of America from the beginning of our country. Following the Civil War oppression was race and economically based. It continued through the Civil Rights movement, and even today as is evident through in the Black Lives Matter movement. Yes, all lives matter, but that is not the conversation; that is a distraction from the truth. Black lives are at risk daily. Suppressing the truth of inequality and opportunity subverts and exacerbates progress for greater opportunities for us all.
To gain some perspective on this newest demonstration of hate, I had to dig deep and find some inner peace. I began with prayer. “Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss, truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven” (PS 85:11-12). These two lines from this prayer for divine favor helped me to see more clearly. The peace and justice that is spoken of is that peace which transcends the relationship of humans to God and one another. You see I am called to sound an alarm when injustice is present. This call is about bringing awareness without judicial judgement, but with a discerning heart. Unfortunately, if I am to sound the alarm, I am also to love. The alarm is a reprimand for hate and lack of love. I am called to love David Duke and Heather Heyer in the same way. I am to grieve over the hate in David Duke and rejoice in the love that is offered in Heather Heyer’s sacrifice. Wrapping my brain around that dichotomy was painful. I wanted to hate and lash out. I spent hours studying each group that was present and I watched hours of video online of the violence and interviews. None of my research or my academic understanding of the events helped me to see the truth.
For me the truth was evident in the organized behavior of the “Unite the Right”. The protestors primary stated purpose was to protest the removal of General Lee’s statue. Yet, the Friday night prior to the planned protest on Saturday, the first order of business was an unpermitted gathering, a highly organized march through UVA campus. Their presences accentuated hate as they incorporated traditional symbols of intimation. I cannot conceive an argument that chants of superiority and oppression while carrying torches in a night would signify peace. These symbols and words mean hate and lead me to recognize the possibility for violence. These were the acts of fear mongers and haters. And yet, if I am true to my beliefs in Christ and his teachings then I am to love them. That is a challenging thing to do. It does not mean that my love should be quiet or without reprimand, because I cannot condone any aspect of threats and distinction of class.
As to my feelings for the “Antifa”, and the civilian militia present, they both offered another target in confrontation and propensity for violence. One cannot bring about unity or safety when violence and confrontation are a part of the equation. I have some understanding of the goals stated by both organizations. Antifa confronts any form of fascism and the militia’s stated purpose was to protect the 1st Amendment rights. The suspicious part of my nature questions the authenticity of both, but if each is true to their stated purpose there is something there for consideration in a favorable light. Pope Francis stated after visiting the U.S. Mexico border, “May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace” (www.coraevans.com). I am concerned for our faith in each other and for our ability to rise together for true freedom. Freedom is about coming together in a dialogue without oppression or superiority. We will never be a truly classless society, but we can offer true opportunity to one another as dignified human beings without oppression. Thereby we hear the plight of each other, and hear the ideas that can contribute to the wellbeing of all.
Scripture for Contemplation
3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”
Other Quotes to Contemplate:
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them”. (https://www.values.com/inspirational-quotes/3545-our-prime-purpose-in-this-life-is-to-help)
“It is my conviction that nothing enduring can be built on violence”. (www.everydaypowerblog.com/2014/03/09/gandhi-quotes/ )
The Words of The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him)
Compiled by Kabir Helminski
Inscribed on the hilt of the Prophet’s Sword: “Forgive him who wrongs you; join him who cuts you off; do good to him who does evil to you, and speak the truth although it be against yourself.” (https://sufism.org/origins/hadith/peacehaith-2)
Men remain in ignorance as long as they hate, and they hate unjustly as long as they remain in ignorance. (http://www.azquotes.com/author/14541-Tertullian)