Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tragedy in the United States

Life Changing Events

John F. Kennedy was killed when I was in fifth grade. That experience of national grief changed my childhood. Five years later Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered, followed shortly by Robert Kennedy.  The Kennedy brothers were practicing Roman Catholics. Dr King was an American Baptist minister.

On November 9, 2016 many Americans experienced another day of national grief. One of my friends stayed in bed and cried all day. Another moved forward with plans to relocate to Canada. Some lashed out in anger at white feminists who did not do enough to get out the vote and elect the candidate that would have protected women of color and women's rights in general. Others expressed fear that their right to marriage and family would be taken away from them.  The list of fears and anger could be much longer. Many of us are experiencing the grief that often accompanies the death of a loved one.

I am a progressive, liberal, left of center, feminist Christian. The national mourning for John, Martin, Robert and my Christian faith have shaped my concern for human rights and dignity. O am also a patriot who abhors the horrible division that grips our country. 

Commandments from the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy tell us to love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves. When Jesus was asked whom to consider a neighbor he chose as an example, a man from a despised group of people, a Samaritan. What made the Samaritans abhorrent? They worshipped God in a different place than the Hebrews. Leviticus also commands. "When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land..." That's a commandment no-one is fighting to put in the court house rotunda. It is easy, for me at least, to draw a comparison between undocumented people in the United States and the aliens we are commanded to love. It is easy, for me at least, to draw a comparison between the Samaritan neighbor and the Muslim neighbor. 

As always, in times like this, I look to faith leaders and feminist friends, who are ofter one-in-the same, for their words of wisdom, peace and healing. A pastoral letter from the United Church of Christ states, "We were built to heal bodies broken and divide. This is our calling. Our core values of love, hospitality, and justice for all must be fully embraced in the days to come. It could be that we were called into being for just such a time and this."

And finally the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, "Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Oh, Divine Master, grant that I may never seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is dying that we are born again to eternal life." 

I must confess I feel the need to be consoled and we are better together.