As I watched in horror as thousands of people, storm the nation’s capitol on Jan. 6th to overturn an election they believed was stolen from them, I was filled with rage wondering where the riot gear, teargas and bullets were because we all know that if the mobs of protesters on the forbidden capitol steps were people of color, Jan. 6th would’ve been wrought with body bags.
Perhaps now, with attempted insurrection behind us, and memories of 4 years ago when the other half of the nation thought the election was stolen from them, we can have the conversations we’ve been sweeping under the rug for years: racial injustice, voter suppression and fraud, first amendment rights, law enforcement protocols practiced differently depending on the color of a person’s skin, or how media is manipulated to destroy nations and their dreams.It is easy to say, “This is not us”, when we don’t want to look in to the mirror of our souls. But this is us America. We have been peace-faking for decades. Now it is time to do some soul searching.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The siege that happened at our nation’s hallowed chambers highlighted for the world our very weaknesses. Many would say Donald Trump is the weakness, the enemy. But he is not. He is the torch. Our spiritual hypocrisy, racial division and economic disparities are what caused this nightmare. He just fanned those flames. As we model our leaders, nations rise and fall. When our leaders have no consequences for their actions, we feel emboldened to do the same. The bad news is: This is not over. We have paved the way for more white supremacists and anarchists. The hatred bombs this country has created are set to storm all capitols on Jan. 19th. The Million Militia March will be armed and ready for a holy crusade to rid our land of evil. The good news is that we know how to win against this battle.
Pray for our nation and its leaders. Demand justice for the insurrectionists. But remember that there are still millions of people on the other side of political lines (friends and family members) that voted a different way because they felt alienated, left behind, uninspired by the other side’s political agenda. Now is the time to talk to them. Spend time with them. It’s never too late to humbly reach across the aisle and ask questions such as:
What happened to make you angry/fearful/dejected?
What measures can we take to walk together to a path of healing?
In his book, Mein Kampf, Hitler tells of his aspirations to be an artist. Twice he was rejected by the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna because his works were “utterly devoid of rhythm, color, feeling, or spiritual imagination.”What would the world look like today if someone had spent time with that angry soul, nurturing and encouraging his art, feelings and spiritual imagination? If only one person had responded (to his anger, disgust and perception that the elite Jews were hoarding wealth and causing the ruin of Germany) by helping him find a balance of reflection, color and beauty, could a war have been prevented?The time is now to prevent a civil war, a holocaust of democracy!
“Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
What I’ve learned from our Interfaith United Community with Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha’is, Hindus and Buddhists is that when we are encouraged to find the commonalities, the harmony, the shared goals and dreams in our community, rather than just highlighting the differences in our faiths, we can find our way out of the darkness together. Although our conversations are uncomfortable at times, in the end we find that we have learned much and our eyes are opened to the beauty in our midst. NOW is the time to be an art teacher, a peacemaker in a world of divide. We MUST hold people accountable for their actions, setting boundaries between us and those who can harm us. But there is always a way to treat others which brings hope and peace instead of division and despair.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God” Matt. 5:9.
In time, we will need to move on from punitive measures to imagining together the dreams we have for our country under new leadership. How can we ensure health and protection regardless of color, political party, or gender? What can we do as an individual to ensure domestic tranquility?
-Enter fearless dialogues.
-Prepare to be uncomfortable.
-Ruthlessly eliminate hatred from your heart.
-Use your life as a model of humility, grace and mercy.
-Find good, truthful, and encouraging words that you can say that the other person needs to hear.
-Humbly pray like you’ve never prayed before.
The lesson we give in painting the world with hope, beauty and spiritual inspiration may be saving millions of lives in the days and years to come.The world is but a canvas to our imagination…Henry David Thoreau
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