Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sen. Paul Thurmond (R)

This appears to be actual change. My hat is off. 

  • Something happened between father and son for this to be possible. 
  • Something happened between the killer in the church and his father that carried tragedy forward.
  I am a walking faith-reason ping pong match. But I know that the risky and terrifying leap into the unknown of change takes love and an "idea" I call faith that tells me the leap is somehow within my capacity even though I do not have reason to believe it. The killer in the church did not take a leap. He didn't do anything but do an impulse passed directly down the generations. Young Mr. Thurmond however appears to be putting both sets of his toes out in the air based on the "idea" that he will land on new solid ground.  He acted on the "idea" that it is in his capacity... without sufficient reason to believe it to be so. My hat is off to him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Masters and Slaves

In Ken Burns', "Civil War" Barbara J. Fields says:
What we need to remember most of all is that the Civil War is not over until we, today, have done our part in fighting it, as well as understanding what happened when the Civil War generation fought it. The Civil War is still going on, it’s still to be fought, and, regrettably, it can still be lost.
As a little boy I was intensely curious about the Civil War and about nearby Gettysburg PA. I didn't know I was being socialized as a lower class white racist. I didn't know any black kids. I rarely saw black people even in the city of Columbus, just south of where we lived. We had visited the battlefield at Gettysburg. I had a rather detailed and graphic booklet from the museum there. I still have that booklet. Fence rows of gray suited and blue suited corpses lying together. I became curious about war. When I saw those photographs of the dead soldiers I realized I was being trained to be a dead soldier. I then became curious about slavery. One of my first feelings upon seeing photographs of blacks in slavery was that I felt like a slave owner. Again I realized I was being trained. I am still aware of the deepest darkest parts of me... all linked up with my deepest rage and shame. Shame and rage. At 67 I suppose it is time to accept that those deep dark rages and shames are there because I was taught to accept that I was never going to be very high on the hierarchical power pole and that was a deep shameful thing for a boy that would someday be a Presbyterian man. (Someone who was supposed to believe in predestination and who was reminded often that he would not be among the "Chosen".) I was being trained to want to be a slave owner and I was being trained to believe that I would always FALL SHORT of earning that "lofty goal".

I remembering hearing or reading the Gettysburg Address around the same time.  A part of me felt that redemption might be a real thing.  

Later as I watched the Civil Rights Movement unfold before my eyes on television I realized that enslavement and slave mastering did in fact continue, not just as a guilty thing within me but in much bigger ways outside of Lewis Center, Ohio out in the larger world of fire hoses, lunch counters, lynchings, Jim Crow, bus strikes and Freedom Marches.  It was a big thing for everyone.  Being quite immature I thought that perhaps some great healing was happening in the country and there would be an end to all the misery out there and in me. 

I have learned to re-frame my  hopelessness and my rosy eyed hopes of redemption in the world of Race in my own country in my lifetime. I have learned that I must re-build the re-frame every day... or the old shamefulness and rage rules my day. An awful legacy.

My son says that he feels he didn't get all of what I got... from me. I hope not. I certainly agree that the war goes on. It continues inside of me each day.  This struggle must happen every day.  It can be lost within me every day.  So, redemption is available to me but I can choose to build it daily or it won't be there.  I can choose to make it part of my daily mental health and spiritual hygiene, or not.  My daily, "measure of devotion".