Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Weddings I have supported.....

I've attended a lot of weddings in my 50 some years. Many years ago I was a bridesmaid in some. I've sung in some. I never thought about whether or not I believed in their marriage. It never occurred to me that I needed to decide whether or not I should scrutinize their relationship.
I respected their decision to marry the person they chose.  I cared enough about them, and thought they cared enough about me, that it was honor to share in their celebration. I supported them. That's what we do for people we love.
Should I have questioned their choices? Did they choose correctly? How can I decide that? Even now having watched outcomes - How can I decide? Did the successes or failures in those marriages change society forever? I don't know. Maybe it did. If I believe it did, would I go back and change my support?
I can safely say I would not. Even if love is fleeting, love is powerful. Everything done in the spirit of love will yield positive results. It may be just a seed. That seed may sit dormant for many years before it grows. It may seem to fade away but love never dies. I will not presume to know where it will go and where or when it will grow. And I will always celebrate the hope of it. I will support the hope of it. And I will support and honor those that I love who are sharing the hope and promise of more love, honor and support. We all need a lot more of those things.

The Supreme Court Ruled - Henny Penny

The Supreme Court has finally ruled. The majority of Americans and the majority of major corporations are embracing marriage equality AND non-discrimination efforts. While many of us are celebrating this great milestone, a very vocal minority will continue to fight. For those of us directly impacted by this decision and the history leading to this day, the rhetoric and actions that will accompany this fight will be hard to take.
Our getting angry about dissenting voices will be counter productive. It will take generations for society to evolve and there will always be a portion of the population that will not let go. Watching the reactions, it's interesting to try to dissect the logic behind their beliefs. Keep in mind that these are beliefs that have been taught and re-taught for millennia. It's much easier to learn something totally new than to un-learn something that is totally false.
The most important thing we can do is to keep talking and stick to the highest standards of compassion and honesty. Listen carefully to the concerns expressed by the dissenting voices. Use logic. Be calm. Try to calm their fears. The reason the tide has turned is that many of the arguments against marriage equality and against equal treatment in general were NOT logical. Myths and lies are UN-raveling.
It has now boiled down to "we shouldn't be made to accept something we don't want to accept. Why? Because we don't want to accept it." Sprinkle a little God on top - call it tyranny to "make me" and there you have it!
It's going to take a long time for many of the dissenters to realize this has become their logic. Some never will. Now that the tide has turned, I can't help feeling sorry for them. But we need to be careful not to allow their misguided logic to build into a swell of fear that turns the tide again. Listen. Be logical. Be calm and stick to the highest standards of compassion and honesty.
Don't let Henny Penny sweep you up on the way to the king. You could get eaten.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What is your effect?

THE most important spiritual truth is that we are all connected. Absolutely nothing is "an isolated incident". NOTHING!
There is a "butterfly effect". Your decisions and actions matter and will effect the world!
Breath in. Breath out.
You have just shared air with millions of living breathing things before you and millions of living breathing things that will follow you.
NOTHING is separate from you.
You are, at most 5 or 6 degrees separated from every other living being. Count the actual direct contacts you have every day - every transaction, every conversation, every connection. You cannot disconnect yourself. Even in death, you are tied to something, someone, somewhere. You cannot separate yourself.
Let this spiritual truth sink into your soul. Every transaction, every conversation and every move you make, has an impact on something. This is truth. This is deeply spiritual.
What are you breathing in and breathing out? That's the question and it is the answer to what you leave for the world. What is your effect?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

No Truly Lone Wolves

By Dee Lane - My cousin and kindred spirit
There Are No Truly Lone Wolves

One must take exception to the theory that claims “lone wolves” are the cause for the increase in mass shootings. This “lone wolf” idea is simply another way for the Social Darwinists and the Ayn Randians to blame only the flawed individual who perpetrated the act, while not dealing with the social and economic root causes that contribute to such violent behavior.
A survivor of the Mother Emanuel Church massacre, Marcus Stanley, rightly stated in his Facebook posting to assailant Dylann Roof, “Somewhere along the line, you were taught to hate people that are not like you…” It is this fundamental truth that merely blaming the individual fails to address. Those who teach hatred and intolerance enable violent behavior, and as such, also have blood on their hands. We as a society need to take action against hate groups; they are homegrown terrorists who are indoctrinating people with their violent agenda in exactly the same manner as ISIS. We need to out these groups for the terrorist organizations that they are.
Secondly, we need stricter gun laws and to stop telling religious leaders to arm themselves. Any place of worship, regardless of religion, is a spiritual and physical sanctuary. There is simply no place for guns in any sanctified space. The increasing frequency of mass shooting events also indicates that the lack of gun legislation is making the massacre problem worse. Guns must be kept out of the hands of hate groups and the violent individuals; such organizations and people do not have any legitimate Second Amendment rights.
Thirdly, we must address economic inequality which is rapidly leaving more and more people behind, and stop merely blaming individuals. The system is broken and rigged in favor of the top one percent, leaving most people with little or no hope of a better life. That said, there is nothing more dangerous than an individual or group that has nothing to lose. As income inequality has increased, so too has the level of desperation and the number of mass shootings.
None of this excuses Dylann Roof, or any other assailant, from their heinous crimes. However, to characterize these attacks as the actions of “lone wolves” is merely an attempt to ignore our collective responsibilities to treat hate groups as terrorists, develop sensible gun laws and ensure that the vast majority of our citizens have access to the economic ladder.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we ARE our brothers’ keepers.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Matter of Honor - lower the Confederate Flag

A few months ago I wrote about my experience living on the Mason-Dixon line and hearing stories of the Civil War from an old friend, Charlie, sitting on his front porch. He had known a woman who was just 10 years old when Confederate soldiers, on their way to Gettysburg, came through their town. I have no doubt that her stories were similar to the stories retold of Union Soldiers who passed through southern cities on their way to other battles.
The soldiers were hungry. They took every bit of livestock - every bit of food - that they could find on the farm. The only thing left was one egg. When they passed through town, they burned and looted. A scouting party had proceeded them, but were killed by the townfolk and buried beneath the tavern. And that is how he came to explain the Confederate monuments just outside of town. Those monuments were raised, after the war, for the Confederate soldiers (actually buried beneath the tavern) out of respect for the kinfolk the town expected would arrive one day.
There are many things about that story that I have rolled around in my mind these many years. This town was devastated - burned and looted - but they felt compassion for the families of the enemy soldiers. Their effort was toward healing very fresh wounds at the end of a very painful war.
I see the Civil War through those eyes. Our nation was less than 100 years old then. Those fighting on either side had often been sitting on a front porch with someone like Charlie who told about first hand stories of the Revolutionary War. They heard stories of the need to fight tyranny. Each of the colonies had strong identities of their own. The Federal Government could easily become an empirical influence in the same manner that England had been. Most who fought in the Civil War had no personal interest in slavery. But the powerful and the wealthy of the south had great interest in slavery. It is the powerful and wealthy who finance any war. Ultimately, President Lincoln correctly identified that the battle over federal and state sovereignty was squarely rooted in slavery. Putting an end to slavery would put an end to the war. He was right.
So, today - 150 years after this terrible war - a Confederate flag flies over the capital of South Carolina. Should it come down?
It's long past time to heal. Throughout the state of South Carolina are ancestors of slavery. They are free. But the Confederate flag is a reminder of an effort to keep them enslaved. And a reminder to racists to try to reverse any progress we have made as a nation. Raise a monument to those who died believing they were serving an honorable cause but do not keep alive an image of racial or national divide. We are ONE Nation. We are ONE people.
Charlie's story spoke to me of compassion and understanding. It spoke to me of honor. There is no better time to lower the Confederate flag. It is a matter of honor.

Friday, June 19, 2015

About Religious Freedom....

Christian conservatives and fundamentalists are having a very difficult time with the concept of religious freedom. It's understandable that this is difficult for them. The very idea of freedom of thought concerning religion goes against their religious beliefs. Across the Christian spectrum there are varying degrees of piety but the basis of institutional Christian teaching is focused on a one way prescription. So, depending upon how strongly you embrace the "one way" narrative, it's difficult to see religious freedom as a good thing. In fact, it's downright frightening.
Christianity is based on a heaven/hell ending and a specified salvation to avoid the fire of hell. Therefore, it's extremely dangerous to have any humans operating outside that belief system. Embracing the idea of freedom of religion - freedom of religious thought - poses a danger to Christianity. Demonic forces are lurking and poised to steal souls, causing many Christians to fear other religious thought.
As keepers of the one path teachings, Christians feel a responsibility to help others find this one and only path to salvation. If others do not accept it willingly, many Christians feel it is their duty to force the issue through whatever means necessary.
We're seeing this play out in many "Religious Freedom" bills passed in state legislatures. If we paraphrase the meaning of these laws - from contraception to marriage equality - it goes something like this;
"If you will not follow my religious beliefs, I have the right to rebuke you and deny your access to things based on my religious beliefs."
The end result they are hoping for is to limit religious freedom outside of their specific Christian belief. This is how the Talaban operates - under a different religious flag. Sadly, they are opening the door for society to be dominated by whatever religious belief is the majority. And conservative, fundamentalist Christian belief is no longer the majority in this country. It's loosing ground fast. The stage is set for religious war in the United States. We've avoided that for several centuries by keeping a certain degree of separation of church and state. We cannot allow religion to be an acceptable excuse to limit another person's civil liberties. To do so, is the opposite of religious freedom. It is the creation of a religious state.
Have we learned nothing from conflicts in the Middle East? Mixing religion and government is a very dangerous thing. Civil society's have a strong belief in freedom for all.
Flip some of the outcomes a bit. What if you went to a business seeking a cake that said "God Bless You" and the owner said they could not sell you the cake because it should say "Jehovah" or "Ali" or because they don't believe in God at all. Or you go into a restaurant wearing your cross necklace and they refuse to serve you because they don't like Christians. Or maybe the magistrate refuses to perform your marriage because he is not a Christian and does not want to support Christian marriage.
If you value your religious freedom, protect religious freedom AND civil liberty. It means accepting that others may not believe the same as you. Think carefully about where you want the line of respect to fall. If it's too far from the middle, it could flip on you. "Do unto others what you would have others do unto you."

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Recently we were out and about. I had a mission in mind and was quite focused on it. Later, the conversation went something like this.
"Did you see xxx?"
'No, but I saw M's friend Suzy."
"That wasn't Suzy. That was xxx."
'At the third booth? That was Suzy.'
"No. That wasn't Suzy. It was xxx and she was with xxxx. You know, from xxxxxx"
I paused. The scene replayed in my mind in a new context. It wasn't Suzy. She was right. I was oblivious.
How much of life am I missing as I move in oblivion? It scares me sometimes.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Dripping Faucet

It's so easy to get caught up in what's wrong with the world. The gossip style headlines grab us..."Do you believe..." "Horrible outcome for...." "Another Tragedy...". Then we start looking for good stories and find "Elk saves life..." "Gorilla saves child..." We jump around from one end of the spectrum to the other. The extreme stories on either end get moved to the top of the list.
Perhaps that's not such a bad thing because daily reality is falling somewhere in the middle. Often, saving a life is not a dramatic one time event. And mostly ruining a life is not a single event either. How do you write about a dripping faucet when the world is watching for the next flood? Most of life is a dripping faucet.
The important thing is that those big headline stories, good or bad, are exceptions. We shouldn't get too caught up in them. We need to seek pleasure in incremental changes for the better. And perhaps that's what faith is all about - knowing that even the smallest positive things we do contribute to a greater shift toward something bigger and better. Perhaps a Gorilla cares about a human child in danger - saves that one life - because dozens of people, for dozens of years were kind to the Gorilla. It wasn't just the Gorilla that saved the child, it was the dripping faucet of kindness.