There Is a Better Way

better wayOne of the most difficult observations about today’s national reality is that our nation is faced with a coup.  There is every indication the government has been commandeered by forces foreign to the values and hard fought triumphs to break open a system that had been closed to too many of its citizens.

From insults hurled at Muslims, to accusations against immigrants, to false statements about transgendered persons serving in the military, to a roll back of Civil Rights legislation, to attacks on working class people, to efforts to remove affordable health care, to denial of climate change and its impact on the environment, to de-funding public radio, to reducing resources for public education, to the long list of priorities to enrich the super-rich and increase suffering among the poor, homeless, mentally ill, fragile veterans, and countless numbers of persons who eke out a living on the edges and in the margins of society, there is a clear and present danger within eye sight of anyone paying attention.

Added to the threats that fracture the homeland, there are the extremely provocative messages aimed at leaders in North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Yemen, and throughout the international community all emanating from the White House through 140 character tweets. It is impossible to ignore innuendos to law enforcement personnel to reduce restraint and act with greater force when making arrests. The pattern of recurring, inappropriate statements by the occupant in the White House leaves no room for doubt that these disturbing performances are intentional and aim to set off a catastrophic chain reaction that may lead to disaster “like the world has never seen.

While there has been no blood shed, yet, the absence of bullets fired is not an indication the hostile takeover did not occur. 

While there has been no blood shed, yet, the absence of bullets fired is not an indication the hostile takeover did not occur.  The real evidence is found in the rapidity of undoing achievements gained over recent years to open access to affordable health care, education, employment, mobility, and freedom from fear for all residents.  The realignment of public funds to benefit the super-rich at the cost of the middle class and very poor also indicates what is taking place in plain view.  Then there is the matter of the occupant using his office for personal gain.

Let there be no illusion or mistake.  When the candidate now occupying the White House ran on a campaign to “Make America Great Again,” he was clear and unequivocal without subtlety who and what he had in mind about who would benefit.  Unfortunately, for too many of his supporters, they live under the illusion they are included in the “Great Again” mantra.  Thus, what occurred in Charlottesville on Saturday was a mere precursor to a movement that has been brewing and breeding under the sheets for years.

Let there be no doubt, there are people who believe their time has come and it is now.  They act under the legitimacy endorsed by the occupant who feels the comfort of White Supremacists near him and within his Cabinet.  Thus, this makes all the more urgent our voices of multiple faiths speaking and embodying the values and ideals of Ancient Text; most notably, “Love God. Love Neighbor. Love Self. And Love Your Enemy Also.”

It is imperative for Christians, Jews, and Muslims to remember Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount when he instructed his followers “Not to resist….but to turn the other cheek…”  That is the real discipline to transform conduct and thought.  What happened on Saturday was a public demonstration of resistance.

To resist or participate in violence is to give fuel and purpose to the opposition and to some extent reduces the qualitative difference between the two sides.  Resistance is often desired because it provides an arena and means to broaden the objectives of very mean-spirited people.  It allows those who are armed to justify violence.  Nonviolent, non-resistance re-frames strategy and retains the higher understanding of the Sage who honors the whole person with room for redemption.

Truly, there is a better way.

There is value in debate and people grow when differences co-exist without conflict. There is a better way for a complex, multiple cultural, inter-racial, diverse class, multi-lingual, inter-religious, humanistic nation that the United States has become. There is a better way when we acknowledge our flaws, mistakes, and hurtful history.

There is a better way when we gain the courage, dignity, and humanity to confess our sins and apologize to Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Catholics, Irish Americans, Italian Americans, and Polish Americans who gave so much and suffered dearly because of grievous acts against them by our ancestors and ourselves. When we take that bold step to unite, then, on that day we will know the United States of America can be and will be a truly great nation, perhaps for the first time.

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity seeks to model a of thinking that recognizes, “Every Human Person Is Sacred Across All Borders.”  We seek to love our enemy…if such an entity actually exists. We pray for the occupant in the White House who bears great responsibility in leading our country in a time such as this.

Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs

About Art Cribbs

The Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs is the executive director of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, a statewide faith-based organization, that advocates for workers and immigrant rights, quality education, and health care.