Post-Thanksgiving Challenge

I believe I benefit from White Privilege.

I believe Black Lives Matter. I believe that every life matters.

I believe what was done in Ferguson was a grave miscarriage of justice.

I believe Christians need to step up and use their voice to advocate for the oppressed.

I believe I am only one person in a small West Texas town and that I do not have a lot of influence. But I believe I should speak up whenever I can.

I am going to participate in a Black Friday boycott and I encourage you to consider the same. In fact, consider boycotting for the next 60 days. Many people in power will not change unless they see their bottom line affected. So affect their bottom line. But more than just taking money from them, pay attention to where your money is spent:

Buy from local people you know.

Buy from stores owned by minority proprietors.

Research large corporations and if they do not stand for justice, do not patronize them.

It is not easy. It may require sacrifice. But if enough of us buy only what is necessary and buy only from people willing to advocate for justice we can make a difference. We can make a change.

The following is borrowed from Julian Long:

I am stepping out of the cycle of hedonistic consumerism.

Yes there are things I want. Even some things I think I need.

But WE need justice and a voice more.
Economic Disparity is a massive part of this system of injustice we are raging against. They hate “looting” and “riots” and make us villains for that?
Then Break the Back of the Beast another way.
And don’t fall for the feel good symbolic okey doke of Boycotting ONE DAMN DAY.Do not boycott Black Friday only to pick up the same deal on Cyber Monday.
WITHHOLD YOUR DOLLARS.
MAKE IT MEAN SOMETHING.
Put your money into building the infrastructure of a just nation not reinforcing the infrastructure of an unjust one.
This will NOT be easy.
Accountability never is.
But being mindful of what is ESSENTIAL will help us FOCUS. Convenience and Comfort and Capitalism have lead to our Complacency and lack of focus. This is what the Roman Empire called Bread & Circuses. A fat, fed and entertained populace will let anything pass.
We’ve forgotten that “the Struggle” means sometimes we have to STRUGGLE. We have to eschew the convenient comforts and pursue inconvenient truths, impolite conversations, ugly realities and painful progress.
It’s about to get uncomfortable for us.
But we should really be uncomfortable now.
When a child is sitting in a dirty diaper he acts out and cries out until the filth is changed.
Brothers and Sisters we are sitting in the filth of what American commercialization has done to us. We are sitting in the putrid stink of a system that is utterly and completely co-opted by the wealth and greed of the 1 percent. And we are funding it. We eat the corrupted bread. We support the frenzied spending circuses. We consume what we are fed and the more we consume, the more shit we sit in.
Build the economy of conviction. Focus on the essential and build on what matters. For every Black life snuffed out by rampant unchecked authority you check them by removing dollars from the economy that supports it.
AND BE VOCAL ABOUT IT.
Declare often exactly why you don’t spend so there is no confusion as to where the money has gone- why the coffers of injustices are withering. Proselytize and evangelize and RAGE. So that others might see the example and join in starving the beast and breaking its back. But be loud, clear and committed to your convictions. Pick a time period. Six weeks. Set a personal trackable goal so you can see results in your own life. In your own community. Hold yourself and each other accountable.
We know that the impact of rioting and looting is economic but the optics of it create a conversation that maligns and miscasts us when the media is trained to be sympathetic to the monied system. They WILL miscast our actions as violent and animalistic– they cannot miscast our deliberate inaction. They cannot miscast our refusal to participate. Either way the system will suffer. Both actions are justified- one will change the optics of the conversation against us. Break The Beast’s Back.
-Julian Long

‪#‎BuyOnlyThingsNecessary

A Time To Listen. A Time To Change.

Just listen. Sit down. Be quiet and listen. If you are not a person of color in America, you do not know what it is like to be a person of color in America. Do you want to know why people are angry enough to protest? Listen to them. Do you want to know why parents of minority children are afraid for their kids to go the store? Listen to them. Do you want to know why people feel like things such as justice, peace, and liberty are only available to whites? Listen to them. And when you listen, do not respond with any, “Yeah, but….” Do not try and justify. Or deflect. Or explain away. Just listen. Don’t post or share ignorant memes that serve only to inflame. Don’t promote systemic racism by talking about color-blindness and postulating about a post-racial society. Don’t view your neighbors or people in Ferguson or in any community as “them” or “other.” Stop trying to tell people why they shouldn’t be upset. Stop trying to tell people how it really isn’t as bad as they think it is. Stop trying to tell people how they should feel or how they should respond. _________________________ Last night was infuriating. At least it should have been. Although it was not surprising, it still should have made your blood boil. How often does a County Prosecutor act like a defense attorney of the person accused? How many people can shoot someone in broad daylight, have 7 witnesses come forward to say the victim was surrendering with hands raised, have an important detail lied about for 108 days, be tried by someone who should be unbiased yet actually is the chairperson of the accused’s fundraising committee, and still walk away without a trial? Last night was not about guilt or innocence. Last night was about saying that if you gun someone down in broad daylight you should stand trial and let your guilt or innocence be determined by a jury of your peers. You may not like to hear it, but the message last night was that black lives do not matter. At least, not to the people in power in St. Louis county. Last night was infuriating because the majority of protests were peaceful and quiet yet the news networks decided to cover only the violent ones. Last night was infuriating because people cheered the exoneration of the police officer and treated Michael Brown, the victim, as if he was the perpetrator. Last night was infuriating because people who have cried out about injustice and being treated unfairly for generations were essentially told to shut up. Well, I for one hope they do not shut up. I hope they speak up. I hope they cry out. I hope they get louder and louder until those of us who are deaf to our own privilege have no choice but to finally listen. I hope they act out so much that those of blinded to the injustice around us will have no choice but to open our eyes. _________________________ Stop telling people whose experience is different than yours anything. Just listen. And after you listen, start to do something to bring about change. Join in the movement to advocate for greater police accountability. Wearing body cameras and clearly read name tags protects the public and the police. Look for people who are in the business of advocating for those who do not benefit from the same privilege you do. Start to get to know your neighbors; especially those who may be different than you. Start attending churches that have a different ethnic make-up than the one you normally attend. Stop pretending like racism does not exist. Look for it and point it out when you see it. And by all means: stop talking. Just listen.

What is Your Highlight/Lowlight? Please Read and Share!

Last month, I shared a post about consolation and desolation. My intent is to use my blog once a month to offer a space for everyone to share their highlight and lowlight of the past month: the time when life was most fulfilling and the time when life was the most draining.

We need to share our triumphs and defeats more often.

Both are realities of life. Neither are permanent. Both are better shared in community.

This past month, my highlight was standing up front at church as my children offered the communion thought. My younger son read the Scripture, my daughter delivered her thoughts about what do, and my older son led the prayer. It was such a blessing standing all together and sharing that moment.

My lowlight is that feeling of helplessness I get when my friends are struggling in ways I cannot fix. I have had too many conversations these past few weeks with people who are facing life-altering situations and all I can do is listen. I am grateful for the opportunity to listen. I am grateful for the trust they show in talking to me. I just wish I had more to offer.

Now it is your turn. What is your highlight and lowlight of the past month? Please share. You can post in the comments here or on my facebook or twitter page. I appreciate all of you for reading and participating!

Rest For My Overactive Mind

“Find rest in God alone.”

_________________________

I am struggling. I want to be accepted. I want people to like me and support me. I want there to be no conflict. So when I know something is going on that will potentially upset others, I try to figure out what my response will be to their (imagined) reactions.

Because I just can’t live my own life. I have to live my life in such a way that everyone, everywhere, will love me all the time. That’s realistic, right?

I know something you don’t know. And if you knew it, you might be mad at me. You might think you need to fix me. You might look down your nose at me. So let me just keep it to myself.

Do you have any idea how fast my mind can operate? Do you know how many things I can think at one time? My mind is a scary place to be. I am thinking about my problem. I am thinking about everyone’s potential response to my problem. And I am thinking about my response to those potential responses.

Totally normal, right?

_________________________

I sat on my pastor’s couch and said I am overwhelmed. I cannot even state in words all the thoughts that are swirling in my head. He asks me to consider the trajectory of my life over the next 10 years.

My initial thought is, “Are you kidding? I’m freaking out about the next 10 minutes!”

But my second thought is, “Wow. That just might work.”

Maybe I don’t need to know what everyone thinks or feels about my life. Maybe I don’t need to prepare for others’ reactions.

Maybe I just need to know what God wants me to do with my life.

_________________________

I seek for rest from my people-pleasing thoughts: Agree with me; Understand me; Accept me.

Why am I seeking something eternal among the temporary?

If I am going to stop focusing on what is in front of me (real and imagined) and start focusing on God’s trajectory, how will I do that?

“Find rest in God alone.”

First, I will find a word. My word is peace. I silently pray, “Peace.” Over and over. Repetitively. Slowly breathing. Calming. Peace.

Second, I listen for God. I listen through memory. What has God done in my life already? What have I read, experienced, felt, worshipped before?

I listen through perception. How is God present in my life right now? What is God doing? How is God acting, moving, this very day?

I listen through silence. Sometimes, I listen and hear nothing. And that is okay. Just like at night when I look in on one of my children or my wife. I watch them sleep. I hear nothing. But it is one of the greatest sounds ever.

Third, I reflect on the written word. I read the Bible. I read my favorite authors. I read (or listen) to sermons I have heard before.

I find rest in God. God will direct my life, not other people. And definitely not myself.

My mind is running.

But God is calling me to rest.

“Find rest in God alone.”

Veteran’s Day: Thank You and Forgive Us

Today is Veteran’s Day.

Thank you to all veterans who have served in any of the military branches. I am related to many who have served. I am friends of many more. I sincerely appreciate the hard work, dedication, devotion, and sacrifice that come with serving in the military.

Thank you.

President Wilson said this on the occasion of the first observance of Veteran’s Day, originally called Armistice Day:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Thank you all who have served, are serving, and will serve in the future. This country and its people do appreciate your service.

However, in addition to thanks, we also must say, “Forgive us.”

Forgive us, for we have failed our veterans in worst ways possible.

_________________________

Because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy.

About 12% of the adult homeless population is veterans. That means that on any given night, over 49,000 veterans have no home to sleep in. Mental health issues are prevalent among veterans; especially those who have seen combat. PTSD is probably the most well-known issue, but there is so much more. Add to that, a large number of these mental health issues co-exist with alcoholism and drug addiction. When soldiers go untreated, it becomes difficult to secure a job and find a home.

If we are truly going to be a nation that shows sympathy, we should first start showing sympathy to those we honor for their sacrifice and service.

With peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

We live in a country of peace. We live in a country of justice. If you are lucky enough to be a part of the privileged racial and socio-economic classes.

Look no further than Ferguson, MO. Look no further than the mascot of the NFL franchise in Washington, D.C. Look no further than the defensive reactions of privileged people to both of those statements.

Our veterans fought for freedom. For many in our country today, freedom is a dream that is not yet realized. If we are truly going to be a nation that exhibits peace and justice to the nations, let us first exhibit peace and justice to the members of our own nation.

_________________________

So today we say thank you. Even if we are conscientious objectors or pacifists, we still say thank you to our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they have made.

Yet we also say forgive us. Forgive us for we have turned our backs on our veterans too many times. Forgive us for we have not upheld the freedom for which they fought.

Let us begin today to say thank you by caring for our sick and homeless veterans. Let us begin today to say thank you by advocating for peace and justice for all of our citizens.

After all, that’s what Veteran’s Day is supposed to be about.

 

For additional information, check out the following links:

http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp

http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/

http://www.va.gov/homeless/