Twice in the space of three days, I was hit with the theme of everybody belongs. It could be coincidence or it could be God pointing something out. Either way, it resonated.
Mirabai Starr, a Christian (I think) mystic, has been asked about the challenge related to the Biblical verse in which Jesus says I am the way and the truth and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through him. If that’s the case, what about Jewish, Buddhist, Islamic, or even atheist people who live a good life and embody what Jesus asks for? What about my agnostic friend who is going through an extended rough patch with grace and empathy that shines as a model of what Jesus asks for?
Are they to be cast into the fiery pit merely because they didn’t say The Prayer™?
According to Ms. Starr, the answer is no because God is love and Jesus is God and love is, indeed, the way and the truth and the life. If anyone has cause to be angry with God, Ms. Starr is among them, having lost her 14-year-old daughter to a car accident in 2001. Sometimes hurt(adj) people hurt(v) people. And sometimes the pounding of the pain softens their soul, as if were a tenderized delicacy that would, against expectation, melt in your mouth.
When the concept of everyone belonging came up, I mentioned how some exclusion is more acceptable–such as the derision of black conservatives by liberals as traitors. A woman I know–a kind and generous woman with a soft heart–said black conservatives make her so angry she wants to just smack them (metaphorically). Even soft hearts have hard spots.
A couple of days later, after playing a video clip that called out President Trump and, by extension, the people who voted for him and believe in him, at the Joshua Tree concert, Bono doubled down on the colors bleeding into one by saying that all people, right and left, Democrat and Republican, have a remarkable capacity for kindness and generosity. And that everybody belongs.
So when everybody belongs, how do you deal with the people who don’t agree? Do they belong? How do you reconcile their beliefs that they don’t belong? Whether they are black conservatives or homosexuals or Democrats or Republicans or whoever? How do you reconcile the people who want to exclude them when everyone belongs? Do you exclude the excluders? Who decides? And who’s left after all the exclusion is done?
Earlier this week a man was stopped from a massive assassination of elected officials by sheer luck. If Majority Whip Steve Scalise and his security detail hadn’t been at that ballpark, a lot more people probably would’ve died.
Last night someone drove a truck into a crowd outside a mosque in London–a city that has more than its share of hurt people hurting people.
The answer to these attacks isn’t to debate which side’s shouting rhetoric is worse.
Maybe the answer is to stop shouting. Maybe the answer isn’t to post that meme that’s a little over the top–you know, the one that’ll make all the people who think like you feel good. Maybe the answer isn’t to find that article where that guy no one has heard of says something outrageous–and then post that article as if it were the other side’s mainstream.
I’m more or less conservative. “My side” is the one that talks about second amendment remedies. It’s the one from which people showed up at Obama rallies armed to the teeth. “My side” has more than its share of bullies. But it isn’t alone.
Opposing someone isn’t the same as simulating their death. It’s not the same as showing up at a rally looking like a stormtrooper. It’s not the same as wishing ill on their children and family. And if you aren’t four, “they did it first” really isn’t a justification.
In the Bible, Elijah was weary from the way things were going and he needed something to touch him. So God came. But God wasn’t in the earthquake or the fire or the storm. He was in the whisper.
At one point in the concert last week, Bono asked for the lights to go down, then asked for everyone to get their phones out and turn on their flashlights. One phone in a crowd of 60,000 was no big deal. But when everyone got out their phones, we didn’t need the harsh stadium lighting.
Just a thought.