This represents a critical point in the story of humanity... a morality play writ large. When faced with the mother of existential crises, human nature reveals itself. Some instinctively avert their eyes and drive full speed backwards off a cliff. Others see the threat clearly, take its measure, and true to the nobility inherent in humanity, rise to the challenge with bold, creative resolve. The Green New Deal is not a new initiative. It has needed new faces and new energy to propel it beyond the old, corrupt guard that would stand in its way.
Welcome to the State of the Union. Welcome to the new world. I know it is shocking to witness a Congress that intends to both lead and legislate. I know those shiny new, not all white faces, that now populate the House are a fundamental threat to the powerful elite represented by the Senate. I understand that their ideas about fairness, equality, compassion, eliminating poverty, caring for people with medical needs, engaging the rest of the world in an effort to avert our extinction, and education for all is more important to them than purchasing a few more new aircraft carriers or squadrons of half billion dollar airplanes. If you have a problem with this approach to government, then get over it or get used to it.
Here's the greatest shock of all, if you can bear to read it: this world belongs to the youth, who will inhabit it among the filth and chaos we older people have left it in. They will do what they can to fix our world, and they will die trying. They will call for radical change in every sector of our human activity because radical change is what is necessary for their survival. That means a world government will be formed, the needs of our planet will supersede all other considerations, what we now think of as individualistic rights to consume and plunder will be eliminated, spirituality will be expressed differently, religion will be radically altered, the immorality of the super rich owning more than they need will be corrected, wealth will be redistributed, and the quality of life will not be measured in GDP.
It you have a problem with this view of the world to come, then you will suffer in the future. Your SUV will be crushed, along with your ego. If you are okay with this future, vote it into existence. Encourage the rebirth of true democracy in America. Call it whatever you like... socialism, globalism, elimination of racism, elimination of capitalism... even the destruction of "isms". However you feel, it's on the way. There is not a damned thing you can do to stop it. Embrace the change or step off the planet.
Click on the picture to link to the Huffington Post article or click here.
• GOP Congressman Spent His Week Harassing Muslim Colleague on Twitter
• Police Sergeant to Precinct: If a Homeless Person is Black, Just Shoot Them
• 2 Years Later, Trump’s Muslim Ban is Still Keeping Families Apart
• Ocasio-Cortez Flooded With Bigoted Calls
• Virginia House Democrats Call for Gov. Ralph Northam’s Resignation (for black face photo)
• The Covington Teens’ Racist “Tomahawk Chop” Is The Product Of Native Mascotry
• Don Lemon Shreds Ralph Northam’s Disgusting Racism: ‘It Deeply Hurt’ Me
• RNC Gets Roasted Over “Tone Deaf” Black History Month Tweet
These headlines say a lot about our nation. We need to pay attention to the issues of race and bigotry that are becoming more - not less - prevalent as we struggle with white supremacy, white fragility, and white rage. We fought a civil war over these issues once before but we have never overcome them. Our government has never apologized for its role in the practices of genocide and slavery upon which our nation was built. Racist language is still present in the DNA of our Constitution, and has not been expunged or repudiated.
I believe the United States needs to institute a national “Truth and Reconciliation” commission based on the South African model that addressed their apartheid era. God knows we could use such a process to help our nation transition from our myth of a white european ethos of the past to a superior one based on vibrant ethnic and racial diversity for the future.
This is a little something I apparently posted on Facebook on September 14, 2012. I completely forgot about it until this morning, when it showed up on a "Memories" posting. It is interesting.
I had a dream about an organization called the Anti-Antichrist World League (AAWL). Fifteen years ago a retired senior level CIA administrator named John Strawn wrote a paper called “Asymmetrical Leveraging: The Fall of Empires”. In the paper he advanced the theory that world governments are now simply hosts for powerful groups that advance their geopolitical aims by using religious extremists and ultra right conservatives as puppets. Strawn’s first axiom was simple: “money equals power”. The Master Groups realized long ago that money is the only real power in this globally connected world, and that they could control world governments by influencing the actions of their puppets. Because governments are not responsible for the puppets (and many times don’t know they exist) they are powerless to stop them. Strawn’s second axiom was: “To find out who gains... follow the money”.
“Push the hot buttons of religious intolerance on one side and nationalism on the other (preferably at the same time), mix in a little indignation and voilà!, you’ve got the makings of an international crisis.”, Strawn wrote. He argued that crisis of the kind that destabilize a government is the goal of Master Groups. “When the dust settles, it is the Master Groups, with their ability to mobilize vast logistical and monetary resources, that swoop down to feast on the bones of the wrecked state.”, he wrote. Master Groups do not need to collect taxes, provide for public services, govern, or concern themselves with alleviating the human suffering they cause. They do not need to pay for large armies or fixed bases of operation. Their host countries must provide for all that. The Master Groups have learned to constantly enrich themselves by manufacturing cycles of violence, then servicing the needs of afflicted host countries.
The use of relatively few resources to effect changes in much larger geopolitical systems is the “asymmetrical” part. The “leveraging” occurs when factions inside a host nation (or region) are manipulated to attack other puppets outside the borders of their host country. Strawn argued that was an important component of successful asymmetrical leveraging. Attacking outside the host country borders forces two or more host countries into participation because they are forced to protect what they perceive as their national interests. Such threatened interests may be ideals, physical assets, or groups of people valued by the host countries.
Many intelligence operatives around the world seriously read John Strawn’s paper. Mid-level Intelligence administrators began to communicate with each other across agency divides. While no spy agency could penetrate the Master Groups by themselves, they could, by working together, begin to see the Master Groups general contours. They discovered that most of the Master Groups were inspired by an apocalyptic worldview. Both fundamentalist Islamic and Christian theologies are cynically exploited into an Antichrist, apocalyptic scenario that serves both; Moslem looking for Jihad against infidels and Christians earnestly wishing to hasten the return of Jesus Christ. While Master Groups do not possess religious beliefs, they nonetheless use religion the way starships in science fiction use antimatter. So, the AAWL is so named as a rejoinder to what it perceives as its greatest common foe.
The Master Groups are difficult to identify because they are often loose associations of powerful individuals operating in business and government. Sometimes they are corporations or entire industries. The AAWL is, thus limited in what it can do to combat the power of the Master Groups or their puppets. It mostly operates as an extra-channel resource for hapless governments. Even though many spy agencies worldwide can operate with some level of impunity, the Master Groups have no legal, ethical, moral, or financial restrictions.
I read the “Asymmetrical Leveraging: The Fall of Empires” paper and spent time carefully examining how Master Groups operate. Stay tuned!
My mother’s mother was named Elvira Jackson. She was born on July 17, 1896 and lived in Mobile, AL until she died in 1963. We called her “Mamma Vera”. She had a total of fourteen children. Six survived past their first birthday. One of her sons, Herbert, drowned in a swimming accident when he was 14 years old. Mamma Vera’s husband, Vivian Raymond, was killed fifteen months after my mother was born in 1934, on December 5, 1935. He suffered a fatal head injury after falling from a garbage collection truck. Mamma Vera received no insurance payout or pension from the trash collection company he worked for. There was no social security at the time. My grandfather Vivian was one of those “expendable” human beings that Karen Baker-Fletcher wrote about in Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit.
In one of the crown cities of the Jim Crow deep South, Mamma Vera raised six children as a single mother during the Great Depression. She worked as a maid for white people. Meanwhile, her own daughters kept house and looked after the younger siblings. My uncle Vivian Raymond Jr., was the oldest boy. He quit school in the sixth grade and went to work doing anything he could to make up for the lost income caused by his father’s death. It was said that Vivian could, and would, do any kind of work. He would bring all of his money home, except for enough to buy pound cake and buttermilk from Pullman’s Bake Shop (which has been in continuous operation since 1918).
Mamma Vera was gentle, loving, and kind. She was a remarkable person. I knew that about her... and she knew that about me. She would say to my mother “I don’t know what he’s going to be when he grows up, maybe a preacher, but I know he’ll be somebody special. Look at those little ears... that’s one way you can tell!”
In the early 1960s my father was stationed at Brookley Air Force Base. As a young sergeant with a growing family and a small paycheck, we needed an affordable place to stay so we moved into Mamma Vera’s house while she lived with my uncle Leslie and his family. She continued to work hard until just before she died of pancreatic cancer. We stayed on in her small house afterward.
At that time I was about 6 years old. I wanted to go to the funeral. I wanted to understand what happened to Mamma Vera, but my parents did not allow me to see her. My mother told me that Mamma Vera had turned into dust.
The house we lived in had a small front living room that faced to the Southeast. The sun shone through the curtains in shafts of light, especially in the morning when the light was metallically crisp. There, suspended in the light, is where I would see Mamma Vera in the dust. From that time on, whenever I see dust sparkling in a shaft of light I say hello to my grandmother. She always answers by twinkling at me.
It has always interested me that my mother's cursory explanation of death has had such a profound impact on me. It was my introduction to the mystery of life. Instead of the typical Catholic explanation of death as a way to go back into the bosom of God/Jesus/Spirit, my mother inadvertently propelled me headlong into a personal theology that links the earth and its elements to the human spirit. It just made sense to me that the connection between my beloved grandmother would be constantly reaffirmed by such a simple and ever-present bond.
It was not too much later in life that I rejected outright the Catholic heaven and hell version of religion, along with what seemed to me the nonsensical mythology of original sin. What was essential to me is love, and its child creativity. The God that others seek is, in my mind, a love that is absolutely essential and primary to the sustenance of all existence.
Quantum physics now appears to support my contention that consciousness is one of the building blocks of the universe, along with space, time, energy, and matter. The inclusion of consciousness as a key component of the fabric of reality allows scientists like Robert Lanza, Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff to theorize that consciousness actually defines how matter acts at the quantum level. Lanza, famous for coining the term “Biocentrism”, believes that everything we experience is created by our consciousness, and that space and time are tools used by our minds to interpret the universe.
Creativity is the expression of infinite love (consciousness). To me it manifests multi-dimensional planes where matter is constructed and energy, in all its forms, exists. Those forms include everything that exists in the universe of universes, all life, and all levels of intelligence. Thus, all worlds and the lifeforms that inhabit them are the product of creative energy. All matter and energy are inextricably linked together. Indeed, physics informs us that the two are fundamentally interchangeable.
So on the deepest levels, our planet and its inhabitants share consciousness. We are constructed from the same elements of matter derived from the stars. The intelligence that has emerged from the design of our brains is immersed in the field of infinite possibility that, on the quantum level, brings forth all things that can be conceived of and/or manifested. Eco-theology is but the study of self-apparent truth: the science of God manifested as a living system to sustain life.
Any act of constructive creativity is the most pure form of interaction with the eternal love that sustains us because, unlike prayer, it does not invoke activation with an object of worship. Instead, creativity is an act of ever-present participation in the joy of connection we share with all things. When we separate ourselves from this divine presence we suffer. I believe we have harmed our planet because we have erected systems of economics, government, and society that separate ourselves from each other. The connections between us have been severed, so a fog obscures recognition of the essential consciousness that is the earth.
This truth of connection with the earth is revealed in dust, which we strive to hermetically seal ourselves from. We do not value the primordial need to dig our hands into soil, in the way many of us do not recognize that we must drink water, and so spend our days on the verge of dehydration. Studies show that we benefit physically and emotionally by walking barefoot on the ground and connecting with the earth’s magnetic field. Instead, we use shoes to shield us from that vital interaction.
I invite you to do as I will, immediately after I write this last paragraph. Take your shoes and socks off and find a patch of grass outside in the sun. Stretch your arms out. Put your head back. Open your mouth wide and suck in clean air (if you can), then breath it out slowly. Now look for our Mamma Vera. I will share her with you. She is never far away. Say hello. She will twinkle back at you. We are all connected.
In a series of five sermons, of which this is the final part, I have examined many different aspects of the issue of immigration. In the first sermon, entitled The Stranger, I discussed what it is like to be “the other” in a society that may not feel comfortable with us as an outsider. The second sermon, The Immigrant, dealt with the history of immigration policies in the United States, and how many of them have been racially motivated. The third sermon, The Promised Land, described how the ideal of a Promised Land for immigrants is both a state of mind and a real, physical, place that needs to accommodate the needs of the immigrant. The fourth sermon, The Refugee, examines the personal needs of immigrants fleeing from persecution or danger.
This final sermon takes a more “spiritual” look at the underlying principle of all the previous sermons... that of justice. One of the definitions of the word justice is “the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action”. This is the context in which I wish discuss justice as it relates to immigration.
States have been granting protection to individuals and groups fleeing persecution for centuries. The modern body of laws dealing with refugees is largely the product of the second half of the twentieth century. Like international human rights law, modern refugee law has its origins in the aftermath of World War II, as well as the refugee crises of the interwar years that preceded it. That era saw the greatest movement of human beings because warfare was no longer confined to battlefields. In a world that lately seems to want to punish refugees, individuals and organizations advocating for the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees with justice and compassion, are being hindered. In light of these stressors, let’s take a look at what justice is...
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a person who did something wrong would immediately suffer the consequences of their actions?
What if a person who started forest fires gets his house burned down?
What if a person who hits someone with a car and then drives away also gets run
What if you get sick if you cause someone else to get sick?
I’m certain you can, like me, think of a million other things to add to a list of “What ifs”.
The concept of Justice is so important to Unitarian Universalists that, unlike any other, such as peace or liberty, it appears twice in our principles. In the second principle it is included as: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations. In the sixth principle, it is included as: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. This is not just a semantic fluke. It demonstrates the subtle, yet awesome power of the word. Justice is required for “human” (or personal relations), as well as on the level of the “world” community.
According to most contemporary theories of justice, justice is overwhelmingly important: John Rawls claims “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.” Justice can be thought of as distinct from and more fundamental than benevolence, charity, mercy, generosity, or compassion.
Studies at UCLA in 2008 have indicated that reactions to fairness are “wired” into the brain and that, “Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats... This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need”. Research conducted in 2003 at Emory University, Georgia, involving Monkeys demonstrated that other cooperative animals also possess such a sense and that “inequity aversion may not be uniquely human”, indicating that ideas of fairness and justice may be instinctual in nature.
Even without scientific proof that we possess an “instinctive” understanding of justice, we all know this. We human beings understand that fairness, codified as the “Golden Rule”, lies at the heart of justice. The formula is a simple one of reciprocity: I will give another the benefit of the doubt as I would expect the same, I will not gossip as I would not like to be the subject of gossip, I will tell the truth as I would like to be told it, I will treat others with respect as I would like to be treated with respect, and I will not judge others because I do not like to be judged.
As I said earlier, a fascinating aspect of the concept of justice is that it applies in equal importance on both the personal and global levels. Indeed, it is, as Rawls says, “the first virtue of social institutions”, and it is essential to any relationship. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his famous “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Luther was able to capture both the powerful personal and transcendent quality of justice in three brilliant sentences. In essence, he said, justice is always threatened by injustice, every person is responsible for ensuring that justice is done on every level because we are all affected by injustice.
Have you ever thought about how injustice weighs down even the most hardy individual, organization, or even civilizations? Even a perceived injustice can cause resentment, hurt feelings, anger, withdrawal, and pain. Disputes arise because of perceived, or real slights. The fairness genes we are wired with kick in and we stop thinking. Instead, we emote, we react, and we rush to judgment. We use terms like “justice cries out” or that someone “cries out for justice”.
I actually have friends who are bitter about the Armenian Holocaust that occurred before and after World War I at the hands of the Turks. I have other friends who are angry about how Palestinians were pushed out of their homeland by Jews. I’ve known people whose parents are Jewish holocaust survivors and the children carry the scars of injustice with them as if they were directly involved. I have family members who are still wounded by segregation and the discrimination they experienced during the Jim Crow era of injustices here in the United States, and I sometimes hear others wonder if they will ever see the forty acres and a mule they say African Americans were promised.
Justice is such a powerful force in our lives that its personification has been encoded into our psyches since ancient times. Justitia, the Roman goddess of Justice, is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems. She is known to us as Lady Justice. Justitia is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from her right hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case’s support and opposition. She is also often seen carrying a double-edged sword in her left hand, symbolizing the power of Reason and Justice, which may be wielded either for or against any party.
Did you know that it wasn’t until the 15th century that Lady Justice has been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness; blind justice and impartiality. The earliest Roman coins depicted Justitia with the sword in one hand and the scale in the other, but with her eyes uncovered.
Because we emote, and react, and rush to judgment we have created an edifice upon which to hang the balances of justice. We need something that allows us to be more rational, and look more objectively on both sides of an issue. We need a buffer to the passions that may consume us. We need some time to reconsider our feelings. That buffer is called the law. Laws are the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision. Because we are talking about the spiritual aspects of justice, we need to dig a little deeper than just what the law is and come to an understanding of how it relates to our deeply ingrained need for justice.
How do we stop injustice and promote justice at the level of the world community? We UUs are deeply committed to the cause of justice. I invite you to do a search on the internet and visit the many UU-sponsored organizations that do work in the cause of justice. Probably the most visible such organization is the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). It is a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. According to their website, through a combination of advocacy, education, and partnerships with grassroots organizations, they promote economic rights, advance environmental justice, defend civil liberties, and preserve the rights of people in times of humanitarian crisis.
Working for justice on the world level can literally be exhausting. When I am so overwhelmed at injustice at that level, I draw inspiration from people like Marla Rukiza, a local girl from Lakeport, California. Marla was an activist-turned-aid worker. She believed that combatant governments had a legal and moral responsibility to compensate the families of civilians killed or injured in military conflicts. According to the Rolling Stone magazine,
“Ruzicka is perhaps the most famous American aid worker to die in any conflict of the past ten or twenty years. Though a novice in life — she had less than four years of professional humanitarian experience — her death resonated far beyond the tightly knit group of war junkies and policymakers who knew her. She stands as a youthful representative of a certain kind of not-yet-lost American idealism, and darkly symbolic of what has gone so tragically wrong in Iraq.”
If you doubt your voice cannot have an effect on the world, think of our Marla.
How do we promote justice in our personal lives? On a personal level, I like to say that I will not do or say anything unless it is kind, fair, or just. What I say or do must meet at least two of these criteria before I act. That is simple advice I gleaned from a Sikh master many years ago has been an invaluable guide for me over the years.
The answer to the question of personal justice is rather simple... we listen to each other, we respect each other, we should be mindful that there are always two sides to a story, we follow the rules designed to help us live in harmony and mutual respect, we apologize, and we forgive. Justice resides in the hearts and minds of individuals. Every human being has a different idea of justice because we are all different people with our own, unique view of the world. Yet, our “fairness gene”, if you will, gives us remarkable access to a vast reservoir of the stored wisdom of our species. If we would only pause for a few moments to seek that wisdom when confronted by injustice, perceived or real, the world would be a much better place. And justice will prevail.
Clovice A. Lewis, Jr.
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!