It is time to end racism in all its forms
“If wishes were horses then beggars could ride.”
That old Scottish proverb helps me understand the demands placed on the candidates for President from the very beginning of this nation. George Washington lived his life aware his foundational use of power and grace would shape the nation as it settled into democracy and into freedom. The courage to restrain himself and the lack of courage to face slavery both shaped this nation down to this very moment.
I don’t actually remember when I realized political promises were like wishes. Perhaps even as a young man I saw the fluidity of circumstances were such the President of the United States would either rise to the challenge or be overwhelmed by them. I pivoted to a different standard which I required before casting my vote. It ultimately bled into all of my participation at every level of government as a voter, tax payer, and as a citizen.
What was my standard? It was character, just good old fashioned character. The White House does not build character in the one who occupies the Presidential Chair, it stretches character, refines character, tests character in ways no other position does. At Cityview I am learning to operate a “jib camera” for our worship. It does not focus on any particular scene as much as sweeps the room. In the same way when you sweep the history of America we have largely found great men whose service to this nation made them greater. They were not perfect men as no person is. Some had embarrassing flaws when revealed troubled us all. Some were lesser lights but largely lights.
Until now. Now at one of the most troubling times in America, we are not being led by a “size 5 man in size 12 shoes.”
Historically, it is odd the sort of things we have placed on the shoulders of our Presidents. Some cynical religious leaders have stated our President is not a pastor or Sunday School teacher as if trying to dismiss the concerns which surfaced about this President’s capacity for the basic rudiments of character and empathy. How different the lack of leadership is now even if the issues have not changed. There is a sense the issues we have today, this moment, are not the first time we have addressed or failed to address systemic problems in our culture and national life. To quote Yogi Berra, that great philosopher, “This feels like deja vu all over again.”
Beyond our shores, we still occupy a place in this world with all the perils and pitfalls which come to living in this world. From the beginning of this nation we had to find our place in this world. That place has constantly changed by what was happening beyond our shores. I am not sure any president has led in a true time of lasting peace and good will. Troubles of all kinds happened and still happen. It is a part of living in a broken world. Leadership is really not completely about aggressive initiatives and promises as it is about guiding a nation and a world to seek positive solutions to crippling issues.
Looking deep into the history of this nation is actually a journey into the soul of America. The Marshall Plan made it possible for us to help rebuild the homes of our enemies because we knew leaving Europe and Japan in ruins would only create more bitterness and resentment. The commonsense steps after the war could have easily been shut down by a bitter nation who has suffered deep family losses at the hands of our enemy. Yet, our leaders’ character prevailed. Even while we deepened our blindness toward our social inequity to people of color. Why do we have to be reminded “Black Lives Matter?”
During our times of war, we have looked to our President to unite us and push forward with courage. In events like the bombing in Oklahoma City, or 9/11 we have needed the President to stand courageously, and with words and deeds comfort the nation. During times of domestic terrorism, we have needed the President to step up and lead with compassion and resolve. When social issues ignite demonstrations and rioting we must have a President who can talk with disgruntled leaders and find a way forward.
The time for this conversation is now. We cannot kick the can any further down the road. We have allowed malignant racism to have a place in this nation for too long. Like all malignancies, it spreads and ultimately kills. It is time for this to end. It is time for us to acknowledge significant numbers of our fellow citizens are marginalized, creating inequity which does not need or have any right to exist.
We cannot wish these issues away. We cannot allow ourselves to look the other way. We have done that too often for far too long. We must continue to build a great nation and the next phase is bringing all of citizens to the table, changing cultural attitudes toward our neighbor, and helping each and every one to feel valued, respected, and an equal partner in this America.
I look forward to the time where a wounded people no longer march in the streets carrying signs that state the obvious “Black Lives Matter.” They do, and we should with prayer, compassion and tenacity move this country forward to a more inclusive society.