Tuesday, November 24, 2015

For Racism to die.......

What would happen if racism truly died in our nation?  When it comes to your life or my life, it probably wouldn't change much because chances are you are one of the vast majority of people in America that is not a racist.  But how would it affect you if you literally made money from racism?  If you got paid more for America becoming more racially divided then would you ever want it to end?  

Racism, as it should be, is an emotionally charged issue. Emotionally charged issues generate a lot of attention.  Attention generates interest and interest generates ratings!   

Remember folks, the media makes their money through advertising, which means the more people they can claim to put your ad in front of the more they can charge for that ad.  It is in the financial interest of an entire industry to get you to watch, and people will watch things that get them fired up.  The more that watch the higher the cost of the advertisements that air during that time and the more money they make. 

Proclaiming racism is one method the media uses to make money, therefore actually trying to quell tensions is not in their best financial interests.  In fact the exact opposite is the case.  

So, if we really want to improve social issues, we must understand it won't happen over the airwaves.  At some point we will have to realize we are all being played.....then shut off the TV or the Internet or whatever and go outside and make a friend.  (And yes, I recognize the hypocrisy of the fact that I'm using the Internet at this very moment to make this point........which is why I'm logging off now....Happy Thanksgiving!!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Monster In Me

In light of all the recent events in the world, I find myself conflicted as usual when it comes to facing the terrible atrocities that we humans intentionally and enthusiastically inflict on each other.  When ever I turn on the news to learn of a terrorist attack or a gunman on a rampage, I walk away filled with a combination of heartbreak, rage, fear, confusion, along with a handful of other emotions. 

The question that often keeps coming back is how can someone actually do such horrible things to another person?  As much as I want to believe these people have always been monsters, I can help but look at children and see their innate innocence.  Innocence that each of these "monsters" had to have once possessed and for some reason or another eventually shed.  I suppose some had it robbed from them while others simply gave it away, either way, the results are always the same, the wake of their hate leaving a trail of pain, anguish, and destruction. Often times sowing the seeds of rage in the next generation.   

I can't help but acknowledge that if these people started out as innocent children before the monster inside was awaken, then inevitability that same monster must lie somewhere in me, waiting for the nourishment of hate to awaken from its dormant slumber.  

It is this awareness that reminds me I must at all cost pursue it's antithesis at all times.  If hate awakes the monster then I must deprive it of it's oxygen with the suffocating pursuit of love.  And not just any love, but complete and true love, the kind of love that forgives even the smallest infraction, the type of love that is engaged and active, the type of love that drives one to be MORE committed to charity and beauty than  the broken are to hate and destruction.  God hear my prayer!    Win the war of my heart with a love so great as to destroy the monster in me.  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Red Cups, Mizzou, and everything else Offensive

* A re-publish from a couple years ago in light of recent events....

Every so often a celebrity or public figure comes out with a tweet or a statement that reveals their true feeling about another group of people.  One of the things I find interesting about the public reaction is that normally there is a huge outcry for said person to lose their job, or to lose sponsorship or be forced to apologize.  Immediate social pressure is created to somehow "punish" these people for being racist or homophobic or whatever prejudice they convey.  Why?

Why do we have to punish people for voicing their opinions?  Isn't that what America is supposed to be all about?  Isn't it about being able to speak your mind no matter how crazy your ideas might be?  Personally, I think its sad that anyone hate anyone else based on a general set of criteria, but when that person voices that sentiment and they are met with an overwhelming backlash crying out for them to be punished, then doesn't that only reinforce their already warped view?  Shouldn't sponsorship or whether or not someone keeps their job be a decision left to the employers and sponsors?

I'm afraid that America is becoming a place where people are being intimidated into keeping their controversial thoughts to themselves, suppressing their right to express themselves and creating a pressure cooker of venom.  If someone is a racist, they are a racist, if they are a homophobe they are a homophobe, firing them and forcing them to apologize will not change their heart.  If anything it will only provide it new resolve, fanning their flames of hatred.  As a Christian, I can tell you we have over 1,000 years of church history where we tried to "force" people to believe and think certain ways and it hasn't work out all that well.

If you don't agree with someone then don't agree with them.  If they say something you think is out of line, then tell them they are out of line.  Punishing them for what they think doesn't make them change their mind and does nothing to fix the real problem which resides in their heart.  A wise man once said we should "love our enemies."  It sounds crazy but for the entire history of mankind just about everyone, including His very followers, have pretty well tested the idea of hating our enemies and this is where we are at.  Perhaps it might be worth giving His idea a try.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Curse of Prosperity

In the heart of almost every human there seems to be a deep lust for meaning.  A passion to have purpose in life and a true yearning for significance.  Never has that passion seemed more contemplated than in today's world of cubicles and computer screens.  Today some of the biggest issues seem to be those of self discovery and self acceptance, issues that have probably on some level always affected humanity, but not like today, especially in our lavish culture.  These are concerns that present themselves most when our most basic needs for survival are met.

For most of our time as a species, mankind has had to scratch and claw out an existence in a harsh and challenging realm, and there are many places in the world where this is still the case, but not so much in the "developed" world, and I've come to the conclusion that we may not be the better for it.  For our ancestors life was truly an adventure, life and death literally hung in the balance of a good hunt or a prosperous harvest, elements like drought, pestilence, famine, all real factors that constantly threatened to extinguish ones existence from the planet.  But from within that struggle came the true elements of life!  The fear of drought brought the euphoria of rain, the dread of starvation brought the true conquest of a successful hunt, the constant risk of death brought the appreciation of life.  Everything was risky and within that risk came huge disappointment and satisfaction.  In those days, women literally risked their lives by something as simple as sex since conception also brought with it the very real risk of dying in labor.  Cuts got infected, broken bones could change the course of ones life!

But over time, with advancements in technology, the world has gradually become safer and with it, the numbness of security.  Today, I honestly don't fear starvation the way they did back then, and as a result the appreciation of every meal I eat is cheapened.  As a child, I grew up in a house that only had fireplaces for heat.  There were times I could actually see my breath in my bedroom on the coldest of winter days.  I remember the feeling of climbing out of a warm bath only to begin shivering as I tried to dry off as quickly as I could to get my pajamas on and race to my bed where I would climb between the cold sheets and wait for them to warm up.  I loved those experiences, and although far from true suffering, it was the discomfort of the cold that made the simple warmth of a fire in the fireplace or an extra blanket on the bed so wonderful.

Today, I can control the climate of my home with a push of a button, I can go to the grocery store and collect my produce without the nervous anticipation of a good harvest or fear of drought.  With the mitigation of risk modern technology has provided us and the comforts that come with our ability to control our environment, we have robbed ourselves of the extremes that come with either side of life.  As a result, we now settle for the cheap alternatives of social media and fantasy in search of those intense emotions that reminded us of what it means to be alive.  To either attempt to safely pursue experiences that cannot be obtained safely, or to create our own risk through dysfunctional living in an effort to replicate what we no longer have.

Is it any wonder that when Jesus called us to experience life to the full that He included in that calling the need to take up our cross to follow Him?  Perhaps the risk of death nay, the eventual guarantee of death, is required to fully appreciate the heights that only life can provide.  Perhaps that is why God gave us this unlimited Universe to pursue unlimited challenges as He knew we would eventually tame this world and in turn would always need more to challenge our wild hearts made in His image.  Perhaps our lack of perceived meaning comes not from the fact that there is no meaning but that we've removed all the risk that is required for us to truly feel all life has to offer!