are you a racist?

It pains me to see the country’s current dialogue regarding race. Actually, “dialogue” is not an accurate characterization; it seems more a finger pointing match, accompanied by increasingly surging screaming. Yes, screaming ensures a voice is heard; however, respect and heart change are simultaneously minimized.

Wanting to do my part, so-to-speak, to contribute positively to the conversation and avoid the societal lure to join in any accusatory fray, I found myself immersed in Miles McPherson’s The Third Option…

The Third Option… 

Or subtitled: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation. 

Isn’t that the problem? The combination of finger pointing and screaming doesn’t lead to hope. It simply encourages extended blame. Who, when the target of blame, desires to change, grow, or consider any other perspective?

Miles McPherson is a biracial man born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960. He played for four years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. During this time of greatest perceived, professional success, McPherson developed a cocaine addiction that admittedly sent him into a critical, destructive decline. After a weekend binge in his second year as a pro, McPherson made the decision to turn his life around, figure the faith thing out, and he stopped doing drugs in a single day. McPherson has a powerful story to share.

In The Third Option — written by one who grew up not feeling he fit well into any ethnic grouping, as “a mixed-race kid in a segregated era of our nation’s history” —  McPherson emphatically urges resistance to the country’s current, enticing call. Society keeps trying to get us to choose “us” or “them” — as if there exist only two choices. 

There is a third. Honor. 

Writes McPherson:

“You may despise racism, but it affects us all, whether we know it or not. It is a corrupter of the soul that degrades and devalues those who look different from us. When we allow racism into our hearts and society, we minimize the priceless value of God’s image in others, which limits our ability to honor, love, and serve them the way God calls us to.

Culture plays a big role in perpetuating racism by wrongly insisting that there are only two options you can choose from: us or them. Culture pits one group of people against another by promoting a zero-sum game mentality that says, ‘You must lose in order for me to win.’ 

God, however, offers us a Third Option that stands in stark contrast to the two offered by culture. God’s Third Option invites us to honor that which we have in common, the presence of His image in every person we meet.”

The misleading, dichotomous choice that culture instead offers, attempts to lure us into what is none other than an “oversimplified” question. Simply put:

Are you a racist?

Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Arab or other…

Are you a racist?

Who would say “yes” to that?

The question is not that easy. It’s also not helpful. It only seems to divide us more.

The Third Option is an “elevated level of honor.” It’s a refraining from the “us vs. them” mentality and from any pointing of fingers. It’s looking inside another… acknowledging that they, too — just like me and you — were created in the image of God. 

But it starts with self… with each one of us…

Who do you need to see differently?

Who are you devaluing?

… because you don’t look like them? … think like them? … or maybe you don’t even like them?

If we could instead focus on the image of God within absolute, every other…

What a far more honorable and profitable pursuit.

Respectfully…

AR

equal pay

As the President of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) walked off the 2019 World Cup finals field, the supportive American crowd erupted in dueling cheers…

“USA!” “Equal pay!” “USA!” “Equal pay!”

The cheers manifested themselves in various media forms as the victorious U.S. women’s soccer team arrived home last week, as three months before the Cup, all 28 members of the women’s team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation. Their legal complaint is described as follows: 

“The United States Soccer Federation, Inc. (“USSF”) is the single, common employer of female and male professional soccer players who play on the United States Senior Women’s National Soccer Team (“WNT”) and the United States Senior Men’s National Soccer Team (“MNT”). Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts. This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players – with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions.”

According to the lawsuit, from 2013-2016 the women each earned a maximum of $4,950 per friendly, non-tournament victory compared to an average of $13,166 for the men. The fact that the women are paid less in sum is not in dispute. 

This happens not only in World Cup soccer. Note the example of professional basketball; the players’ median salaries in the WNBA are $71,635, which pales in comparison to a minimum salary of $582,180 for those in the NBA.

The unique challenge in soccer, no less, is how much this women’s team is beloved. As The Los Angeles Times recently wrote, “The U.S. women’s soccer team outperforms the men’s team when it comes to victories, domestic viewership, name recognition and general awesomeness.”

Yes. Awesomeness. 

The Times goes on to ask the question behind the cheer. “U.S. women’s soccer outperforms the men in every way possible. Why are they paid less?” 

Gender discrimination has been illegal in this country since 1963. So the more insightful question is whether the pay difference is due to discrimination. 

This year’s prize money for the women’s World Cup was $30 million across all 24 teams. That equates to 7.5% of the $400 million distributed for the 2018 men’s World Cup. In 2022 in Qatar, that number will rise to $440 million. The revenue generated globally for men’s soccer is strikingly greater than for women. The pay disparity, therefore, is directly related to the revenue disparity.

In order then to be compensated comparably, the women are arguing they should receive more, even if that money comes from the men’s play.

So is it a matter of unequal pay?

Or is it a matter of merging ethics and economics?

Perhaps the issue is best summed up in a 2016 headline from The New York Times:

“Pay Disparity in U.S. Soccer? It’s Complicated”

Not only is it complicated; it’s far more than a supportive crowd’s cheer.

Respectfully…

AR

the citizenship Q

I’ll admit it. Before the Supreme Court intervened, the recent wrangling regarding the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census got me thinking… I’m thinking it’s the wrong question…

[Note: The U.S. Census Bureau and Wikipedia are utilized significantly below…]

Mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, the U.S. government “counts each resident of the country, where they live on April 1, every ten years ending in zero… The goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.” The process originated 229 years ago.

“Many federal, state, local and tribal governments use census data to:

  • Decide the location of new housing and public facilities
  • Examine the demographic characteristics of communities, states, and the US
  • Plan transportation systems and roadways
  • Determine quotas and creation of police and fire precincts
  • Create localized areas for elections, schools, utilities, etc.
  • Gather population information every 10 years”

Additionally — and importantly — the data is used to apportion seats for the U.S. House of Representatives. As the population shifts, so does congressional voting power.

In specific regard to the citizenship question, its history is as follows:

  • It was standard from through 1950.
  • It was omitted for everyone but residents of NYC and Puerto Rico in 1960 for some reason.
  • In 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 — when the Census Bureau utilized both a long and short form — it was included on the long form only. 
  • In 2010, only the short form was used, so there was no question about citizenship.
  • In between the decennial counts, the Bureau utilizes the American Community Survey (ACS) — which includes a citizenship question; it’s sent to only, approximately 3% of residents.

So why the wrangling?

Opponents of the question’s inclusion argue that it will deter undocumented immigrants/illegal aliens from filling out the form; the count would then be inaccurate. Since the results are used to allocate resources for the building of schools, hospitals, roads, etc., an accurate count is necessary to receive a perceived a fair or necessary share of federal funding.

The Dept. of Justice maintains they need this question to get an accurate count of the citizen-voting-age population to enforce the Voting Rights Act; the citizen-voting-age population is a necessary metric in drawing appropriate, legal, district maps.

What this means is that in addition to the allocated federal funding, congressional redistricting — determined by the U.S. Census — is based on citizens and non-citizens combined. Remember that non-citizens cannot vote in federal elections. (“Federal law does not prohibit non-citizens from voting in state or local elections, but no state has allowed non-citizens to vote in state elections since Arkansas became the last state to outlaw non-citizen voting in 1926.”)

As for how the country feels about adding the question, in a recent Hill-HarrisX survey, 60% of registered voters said that the citizenship question should be included “even if it means fewer people might fill out the questionnaire.” 21% said the question should not. 19% were “unsure.”

So the better question that got me thinking, as expressed by a wise mentor of mine — and I’m not certain what the answer is — but…

“Should Congressional representation be determined using all population or just citizens?

It is currently all population, and the attempt to add the question would have undermined that. 

But should a state with more non-citizens get more representation in Congress, funding, etc.?

Should the state get more funding for roads, etc., but not more representation?

Not sure there is a right or wrong answer, and given the current tone of our political discourse, the side one is on is simply that which will benefit themselves.”

And therein lies the problem…

While there exist legitimate reasons for both opposition or advocacy, the current tone of our political discourse impedes our ability to ask and answer the better questions.

Respectfully…

AR

Kaepernick, Kavanaugh & Rapinoe… & the value of proximity

Megan Rapinoe has made news in recent weeks. While leading the U.S. women’s soccer team to victory in the illustrious 2019 FIFA World Cup, the talented co-captain protested during the National Anthem and got into a non-face-to-face, rhetorical tit for tat with the President of the United States.

Collin Kaepernick made news last week — as documented here — in his rebuke of Nike’s 4th of July shoe promotion, asserting that its design which included the “Betsy Ross Flag” was offensive due to its perceived association with an era of slavery.

Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Brett Kavanaugh also made some news, as when Ginsburg sat down at Georgetown to speak about gender equality, she praised Kavanaugh, noting that this is the first time more women than men will clerk for the court — and “it’s thanks to our new justice, Justice Kavanaugh.”

(Pres. Donald Trump and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also have made news. Granted, they each make news rather regularly.)

No doubt we each have varied reactions to all of the above. What strikes me is the location of our vantage point.

What would happen if our vantage point changed?

Look how far away we are. What would happen to our opinions if we formed them from a closer vantage point? Would there be more respect? … empathy? … understanding? Even amid any disagreement, would there be more respect? … empathy? … understanding?

Allow me, for a moment, to share a seemingly most simple example. It’s personal… but profound…

On Sunday, our church took a day to intentionally invest in our community — simply to love on the people around us in tangible, practical ways… not in ways we decided — but in ways that were shared as specifically meaningful to them.

Among the means of investment, were weeding at the Y, power-washing at a health clinic, and delivering care-packages and personal thank you’s to local emergency personnel. One place, still, stood out to me… one visited by my sweet friend and her family and more. They spent time with seniors at a nearby retirement community.

I couldn’t help but smile hearing the account of my friend’s 4½ year old son playing checkers with a lady named Ruth. He’s quite the formidable young man. I’m sure he gave Ruth a competitive run for her money. 🙂

And then there was Jeannette. She will soon be 94.

Jeannette was approached by my friend’s 7½ year old daughter. The 7½ year old had gone up to her, innocently placing her hand gently on Jeannette’s back, and gave her a small card, saying something simply along the lines of “God loves you. Have a great day!”

Jeannette absolutely lit up. She then meekly asked if she could kiss the 7½ year old on the cheek. The young girl agreed, and after the brief interaction, Jeannette began to cry. She couldn’t stop. She hadn’t kissed anyone in years.

What strikes me about this interaction, however simple it may seem, is that the differences between a 7½  and 94 year old are huge. They don’t look like each other nor act like each other, and sometimes each says what could be considered by the other as some outlandish things; from far away, they could craft all sorts of seemingly legitimate judgments about one another. As long as they stay far away, those opinions and judgments can be fully supported and fueled.

But notice what happened when the vantage point changed. Notice what happened when they got closer. Notice the impact proximity has on opinion.

While the differences clearly remain, there emerges more of a willingness to refrain from judgment when we are closer; it’s less of an attempt to eradicate the very real differences, than an allowance of increased understanding to affect the formation of one’s opinion.

I would thus absolutely love to sit down with Rapinoe, Kaepernick, Ginsburg and Kavanaugh… I’d sit, too, with Trump and Ocasio-Cortez. It’s not because I think I will become more like them or they will become more like me, but proximity makes a difference. Changing our proximity — being close enough to another to more clearly comprehend why they think, feel, act and speak as they do, allows our perspective to be more thoughtful and also accurate. 

Anyone up for a game of checkers?

Respectfully…

AR 

looking at history through a contemporary lens…

I’ve been intrigued as of late as to how we judge things now. Specifically, there seems an increasing trend to apply filters from today to assess circumstances from before. There seems diminishing room for the allowance of the truth that “we don’t know what we don’t know” — meaning our predecessors on this planet did not know then all that we know now. And so we’re tempted to re-examine circumstances centuries old through a contemporary lens.

Is that right? Is it wrong? Does it provide an accurate perspective?

There are so many examples here — and I write this hesitantly, knowing we really won’t do the entire topic justice — but let’s quickly take note of two examples from last week, before applying the lens question further…

In Charlottesville, Virginia, the city council voted to remove Thomas Jefferson’s birthday as a local holiday. With Jefferson’s prominent place in American history in addition to being the founder of the University of Virginia, he has long been especially revered in our 10th state. He also owned large numbers of slaves and reportedly fathered children with another slave after his wife passed away. In a separate council vote, they then declared the city will instead celebrate “Liberation and Freedom Day,” marking the emancipation of the enslaved at the end of the Civil War.

Also last week, Nike, Inc. pulled a shoe from the shelves. The sneaker featured the “Betsy Ross Flag,” promoted with the 4th of July. First unveiled in 1792, this flag is one of 27 designs our country has utilized over the course of our existence, used primarily for celebrations of our nation’s birthday. It has been prominently displayed at multiple presidents’ inaugurations, including at the first inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009. Nike pulled the flag at the urging of athlete/activist Colin Kaepernick, who said the design was offensive because of the flag’s perceived association with an era of slavery and with some white supremacist groups.

So how do we walk through this wisely? How do we respect and learn from history without discounting all that’s associated with history? 

Modern scholars find things now that we didn’t realize were bad then. I am pondering, therefore, if the previous lack of awareness justifies now diminishing the worth of an era, person, or person’s contributions. And then we go further…

Are we picking and choosing? Are we picking and choosing when to be offended and what we will discount and disregard?

Let’s go to another era, but still acknowledging racial sensitivity and how hurtful that has been to so many… to 1859 to be exact…

I recently came across a bewildering insight within the works of Charles Darwin. While Darwin never seemed to deny the existence of God in some way, contemporary atheists have given Darwin credit for making it possible “to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Darwin’s perceived signature work, “On the Origin of Species,” has specifically substantiated the atheistic reasoning.

The book and its concepts are taught at educational institutions across the globe. As one who believes science and faith totally go together and actually support one another, I respect and appreciate the academic banter of what may be true and what may be not.

But I wonder if those who advocate for the entirety of assertions within Darwin’s work would think the same if the book’s complete title was instead used. I wonder if it would be so widely acclaimed… or if our contemporary lens could/should again be applied…

Would that be right? Would it be wrong? Would the lens provide an accurate perspective?

The complete title of Darwin’s book is as follows:

“On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”

Darwin believed that some races were evolutionary superior.

Friends, there is so much we don’t know; this is a complex topic, and by no means is the Intramuralist an expert. More than anything, here we ask questions and encourage the always asking of more.

But when a contemporary lens magnifies the ignorance and/or foolishness of those of our predecessors, what are we to do?  

And… we must also humbly ask…

What will future generations say about us?

Respectfully…

AR

are we aware of Washington’s actual words?

In reading these days before the Fourth, I was once again struck by the Declaration signed 243 years ago. My search then led me to other historical gems. One of the things that always fascinates me is how words written centuries ago are still so relevant now.

I stumbled upon a new one this year. With a special shout out to my insightful history educators, note some of the wisdom found within the farewell address of none other than George Washington. This is just a mere nugget of his words and wisdom expressed 20 years after the first celebration of the Fourth. Note, no less, the poignant relevance to today… [all emphasis mine]…

“Friends and Fellow Citizens…

The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth…

In contemplating the causes, which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by Geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavour to excite a belief, that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts…

Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally… the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it…

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another…

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?…”

On this year’s Fourth, there seems an awareness that our nation’s foundational fabric is currently fraying; there is too much divisiveness. What if we, therefore, took time to focus on Washington’s words?

… that the unity of government is dear to us… that many will attempt to weaken our conviction… that parties will misrepresent the opinions and aims of others… and that religion and morality are indispensable…

Respectfully…

AR

can we measure in money?

Beginning at 6:01 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the flurry begins. The negotiations will be immediate; they will be active and ongoing. Texts… phone calls… face-to-face. The NBA’s annual Free Agency Moratorium starts tonight.

Perhaps one is not a fan of the professional hardwood; follow me still for a moment here…

The Moratorium is basically a week-long negotiation period in which teams may negotiate deals with free agents but cannot officially sign them or make trades; the deals are thus characterized as non-binding agreements.

The inexact, rumored, pre-period story lines go something like this…

Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers…

Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers…

Kawhi Leonard to anywhere in sunny southern California…

Kevin Durant to the Clippers…

Kevin Durant going home to New York…

Kevin Durant staying home in Golden State…

Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and Klay Thompson…

Jimmy Butler, Al Horford, and more…

They all need a place to play.

So it got me thinking…

Recognize the massive amounts of money these players will be paid. Durant, for example, after grossing $30,750,000 for last season, is expected to be offered either a five-year, $221 million contract or a four-year, $164 million deal. And due to injury, whatever salary he is paid next year, he will earn by not playing.

Back to the thinking (and non-NBA fans, thanks for staying with me)…

How much is a person worth?

Is it fair?

Is it accurate?

Does fairness even matter?

Can a person’s worth actually be measured in dollars and cents?

I suppose I have long struggled with the concept of discerning the worth of another in terms of money. Having a son with special needs brought that home for me years ago; professional options and compensation after high school and possibly college will differ for him from those a typical graduate would have available. I’d like to say that realization was a subtle, personal learning, but it was far more one of those divine, figurative whacks on the head, in an area where no doubt I needed to grow.

All men and women are created equal. One has no greater — nor lesser — worth than another. It doesn’t matter if you’re a thriving high school senior with Down syndrome or one ready to sign a max contract in the NBA. Each of us were created equal by God. We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. In fact, I deeply believe that if each of us could learn to honor all of our neighbors equally — recognizing that God’s image in them is the same as it is in you and me — there would be remarkably less conflict and tension on this planet.

So back to the questions…

How much is a person worth?

And can it really be measured in dollars and cents?

Some assume we will start to figure that out at 6:01 tonight. My sense is that worth has already been established.

Respectfully…

AR

a selfie society

A random dozen, relevant, actual quotes…

“Sending my selfie to NASA, because I’m a star.”

“I don’t take selfies all the time. I just do it once and a while everyday.”

“Real men don’t take selfies.”

“Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s an Instagram filter.”

“I remember when Selfies where just called no one else.”

“A selfie day keeps insecurities away!”

“Twerking and selfie have just been added to the dictionary. Future and optimism have now been removed.”

“The ‘I’m doing something fun with a famous tourist landmark’ selfie (aka travelfie)”

“The best selfies are the ones that aren’t.”

“If I send you ugly selfies, our friendship is real.”

“Teenager Post #14606: For every good selfie there are 47 failed ones.”

“I haven’t taken a selfie for a while, but I am still very cute just to keep you updated.”

A “selfie” is a photograph one takes of oneself, typically with a smart phone, and then uploaded to a social media site. Millions of selfies are taken daily.

Just to play with the data a little (and not spending too much time attempting to comprehend who and why someone actually keeps track of said subject), note that the average millennial is expected to take 25,700 selfies in his or her lifetime, and now, more people die annually taking selfies than in shark attacks.

It’s a crazy phenomena — all these pictures of “me.” 

Elsa Godart, a renowned French psychoanalyst and philosopher, in her 2018 book, “I Selfie Therefore I Am” — writes about the inherent contradiction of the selfie.

At the heart of the selfie, Godart explains, is a contradiction. “What may look like straight-forward narcissism can often be insecurity and a craving for reassurance: a reassurance that you can only ever get from ‘likes.’”

I suppose the key phrase there is “what may look like.”

“What may look like…” 

“What may look like” does not equate to what actually is.

A selfie is a singular photograph, snapped at a singular moment in time. We see the pics. We form opinions. We judge the narcissism or whatever else we seemingly glean from the solitary photo.

But a solitary photo does not make an album.

A single image does not tell an entire story.

Where are we crafting entire narratives based on singular shots? 

… singular angles?

… singular moments in time?

My sense is a selfie society doesn’t always provide an accurate perspective.

Respectfully…

AR

freedom, filters & misuse

[Disclosure notice: the specific names and identifying details have been changed in the below account. Contrary to protecting the privacy of said individuals, the motive here is instead to diffuse the polarized reactions that often accompany partisan leanings.]

This weekend there was a gathering in which multiple political candidates from the same party vying for the same office converged in a singular, likeminded locale. They each spoke and were spoken to. They were interviewed and asked key questions. Each offered a speech to a live audience, who naturally reacted in spontaneous ways… perhaps some preplanned, too. 

There were most likely a surfeit of cheers and chants, even hisses and boos. 

There were most likely judicious, eye-opening comments, comments from the candidates that would give the viewer increased insight into who that candidate really is, what guides them, and what they truly believe. Viewers want to know those who potentially could represent them.

(Note the words “most likely.” See below why the Intramuralist could not see..)

No doubt one of the benefits of television viewership is that it changes the makeup of the audience. Too many candidates across the country change what they say depending who sits in that audience; therefore, the candidate’s “yes” doesn’t always mean “yes” and their “no” doesn’t always mean “no,” as it depends on who they’re talking to. The makeup of the audience matters. 

Hence, the ability to view the candidates, one after the another, in an unedited live window is of distinct value in comprehending the integrity of the candidate and what they believe.

This weekend, no less, the gathering’s host denied viewership, coverage, and livestream.

Only one network was originally given the right to broadcast. Note that it is a national network known to be somewhere between “skewed” and “hyper-partisan.” (Note: these exist on both the right and the left.)

Let us be respectfully clear…

No other network was originally given the right to broadcast. It should be stated that since the host’s original statement that only one national network would be allowed to cover, the host announced they would allow a small, local station to also air the speeches, seemingly bowing to journalistic pressure that came from every partisan angle. The left, right, middle — even “B-SPAN” (remember the specific names have been changed) — complained. Not even known, objective reporting is allowed. Let me say that again…

Known, objective reporting is not allowed.

When the state party chair was asked why they would limit live coverage of their convention to one cable outlet, he would not answer the question. He later said he was “done talking about the issue and declined to comment on whether other media outlets would now be allowed to broadcast live.” 

Note that in addition to the exclusive coverage by the one network, other media outlets were prohibited from airing any actual footage until three hours after the event ends.

Question: What is the motive for such control?

Why control those who are supposed to inform us — reporting, giving us insight, sharing the news — controlling what we hear and how we hear it?

Why would the gatherers not allow not only editorial comments from other filters — but also not allow coverage from the news outlets with no filter? Did they editorialize a candidate’s speech or edit a slip up or audience reaction, with the goal of making it sound better or worse? Did the host want to manipulate what the rest of us see and hear? Are we not allowed to walk away with our own perceptions? … or do our perceptions even matter?

Friends, I am no fan of the “fake news” cheers and chants, even hisses and boos. There’s too much throwing out of “the baby with the bath water,” so-to-speak, in that perspective; the freedom of the press and authentic, unbiased journalism is of great, necessary value in our country. We benefit from a healthy, objective media.

Yet this weekend’s event exhibits exactly the kind of control that fuels the cry of being “fake.” There seems ample intent to control what we see, when we see it, and how the general public sees it. That’s controlling — arguably manipulative — and definitely concerning.

This feels not as the right and need of the freedom of our press. Sadly, it’s seems more a misuse.

Respectfully…

AR

thoughts & prayers? really?

The signs on social media have been larger.

The passionate protests have increased.

And the bold call has only become louder. It goes something like this:

“No more thoughts and prayers! We need action!”

There exists a sincere desire for something to be actually done.

So allow me to begin with today’s bottom line…

Those protests are not wrong.

But they’re not right either.

Any time our country experiences tragedy, hardship or misfortune, one of the sobering jewels in our grief, is that sorrow is typically shared. As I attempt to find a silver lining, so-to-speak — or perhaps better identified as some sort of pocket of hope, somewhere, when these horrific events happen in our land  — I find myself somberly thankful at some point that grief is a shared experience; we are all in this together; wise men and women desire no affliction of the innocent. We crave calamity’s ceasing.

And that’s where the separation seeps into our semantics. That’s where the calls have become louder, bolder, and the passionate protests have begun to push…

“No more thoughts and prayers… Action! 

That’s what we need! We are sick and tired of this happening! We will accept no more!”

Indeed. We need action. Something must be done.

For the one who is prompted to pray — to embrace the thoughts and prayers — excellent. Submission to an omniscient God who created us and continues to love us like crazy no matter what, is a wise next step; it’s especially wise, recognizing none of us have life or all of its socio-political solutions all figured out. I would add that I also have concern in finding increasingly more who seem numb to the inherent wisdom of prayer — and when any of us refuse to respect those who engage in such a deferential discipline. 

Prayer is all about positioning; it recognizes that we are not God nor anywhere close nor is our thinking or decision-making even semi-equatable to his. Divine equality is an absurd concept; we will never be equated with him. That awareness prompts humility… perhaps the most vital virtue in in finding any solution, especially when wrestling with misfortune or conflict.

But our reaction to the adverse — whether it be an act of violence or volatile political dispute — shouldn’t end with thoughts and prayers; that’s why the bold protests are not wrong.

Seekers of wisdom are called to act; it’s the discernment in how faith and action fit together. 

What good is it if we say we have faith but don’t show it by our actions?

How can we show our faith if we aren’t engaging in good deeds?

Can’t we see that faith without those good deeds and willingness for action is useless?

Faith and action cannot be separated.

Hence to suggest we need no action makes no sense to me.

To ignore the wisdom of thoughts and prayers also makes no sense.

Both omit what’s vital…

… starting with a posture of humility.

Respectfully…

AR