Welcome to a world where today’s actions determine our future as a country.
This morning, I was greeted with the thought, “What if love was in charge?” My brand of cynicism illuminated my distrust of our citizens. Far too many would respond that such an idea simply isn’t practical. But what if we did? What would happen if we allowed ourselves to feel the results of our inaction fully?
If we allowed love to be in charge, would millions of us be recovering from a weekend of force-fed violence, outrage, and sadness? If we love others, we will redesign law enforcement to protect and elevate our lives.
We would take one look at the anguish on the face of George Floyd’s mother and respond, “never again.” This time, we would mean it. We would also see his devastated 6-year-old daughter. We would have the kind of empathy that would let in the probability that if our entire country saw her father murdered, the likelihood is that she saw this as well.
Why would we allow that ever to happen again?
When we embrace love, we will let in one other truth. In America, there are three George Floyds per day.
Love doesn’t make us careless.
Love elevates our responsibility.
If we love America’s mothers and fathers, why do we allow millions of America’s black and brown mothers watch their children leave the house and pray they come back? Real love makes all of us more sensitive, watchful, and responsible. Love doesn’t push us to look the other way.
If love were in charge of our country, we would have a mindset that all of our people need help in keeping up with the radical change in every profession. We wouldn’t throw people out the door simply because our needs changed. We would train and develop our workers to meet the requirements for change. We would have the initiative to study the countries with such successful programs in place that underemployment is virtually unknown.
For most of us, work is our most significant relationship. From this high place, we would see that if everyone has unique DNA, they might have an individual purpose. On the spot, we would realize that we have no right to dictate what our children do with their lives. That is between them and their God. Instead, we would be teaching them how to succeed and to have the confidence to deal with anything life dishes out to them.
Just moments after I was born, I was turned over to a physically and sexually violent evangelical couple. My father was the town physician and a pillar in our church. Most of his German relatives moved to California together. They were Nazi sympathizers. Whenever they had a conversation about their past, it was usually over Sunday supper. They would switch from speaking English to German. Like clockwork, my adoptive mother would get so angry that fights routinely broke out over the food. In our living room, there was a big Television set. Often, they would leave it running. I often would leave the table as early as possible and watch whatever was on the TV.
Once, there was a black and white documentary about the Holocaust. As they bickered in the dining room, I watched humans being shoveled into mass graves. Some of the German words accompanying that horrifying image had also come out of my father’s mouth. I felt ashamed to be human.
In behavioral science, the adults that thrive from childhoods like mine have one consistent thread. They have a lifeline, a healthy adult that recognizes what is taking place, and they become the one healthy adult that gave them a differing view of the world.
My lifeline was a family friend named Inez. She was a beautiful woman who took great pride in her appearance. She was in a wonderful marriage and raising two boys that turned into powerhouse men. She used to pull me aside, light a cigarette, and tell me that my parents were nuts. She made it clear that everything that was happening in our home was never my fault.
One summer, Inez and her husband joined us for Sunday supper. I was three years old. At the dining room table, a fight erupted between my mother and the Germans. Suddenly, I slipped away from the table, ran out the back door, and jumped into the pool. They found me at the bottom with my fists clenched, holding my breath. The hand that broke the surface and pulled me to safety was Inez. She insisted they give me swimming lessons. The family never tired of telling that story and each time they did, I realized it was the moment where I felt valued for the first time.
Right now, millions of Americans need lifelines. If we love them, we will reach out and do our very best to help them into the light.
On Monday, our President had the streets cleared of peaceful demonstrators by using rubber bullets and tear gas. He walked one block, followed by his daughter tottering along on white stilettos. They made their way to the National Cathedral apparently with no other reason than to create a photo-op.
Bishop Mariann Budde, the minister of the National Episcopal Church, reached out to Anderson Cooper to discuss her dismay at what had transpired on her church’s steps.
Every American ought to hear her narrative. She illuminates the characteristics that have always made America a great country. She talks about the morals, values, and ethics that live above partisan politics.
I have struggled to write this post.
I believe most anyone with any form of spirituality has been having difficulties. Many of us try to square the hard work to become good people with the feelings we have about the culture of outrage and the sense that we’ve become part of a trance afraid that if we look away, something far more terrible will happen.
Right now, I believe that my only hope is to be a lifeline. Here is a copy of Bishop Mariann Budde’s remarkable narrative on Monday.