Posts Tagged ‘equality’

Dr. King remembered

January 18, 2019

I was a white boy growing up in the deep south.

In my life, 1951 . . .  a vivid memory stands out: the remembrance of this brave man:

MLKing

. . . his life, his work, his service to mankind, his leadership in the perilous project of fulfilling our Creator’s call to

. . . bring good news to the afflicted, . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners . . . (Isaiah 61:1)

In my lifetime, I can think of no other American who demonstrated greater courage than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He persisted tirelessly in the sacred call to blaze a trail of opportunity for oppressed people. He persevered in the face of certain death, as he fully understood the vengeful opposition of other men–white and black–who  ultimately took him down.

The name assigned to him at birth, King, was appropriate, as he went on to conduct the life of a true leader, a born leader, an orator, an organizer who truly fulfilled  the declaration of our nation’s founding principles:

 We find these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,  that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In my lifetime, I can recall no other person who more deserves annual remembrance during a national holiday. Although he had his faults, his own sins as we all do,  he was a man of whom this world was not worthy.  In this world, he helped God and fellowman to “make a way where there is no way.” He blazed a trail toward that “equal” status mentioned by Mr. Jefferson and the Continental Congress when they composed our Declaration back in 1776.

I looking forward to meeting Dr. King in heaven, or whatever you call it. Many years ago, I wrote this song about him and an ancient leader named Moses:

Mountaintop

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The Justice/Righteousness Struggle

April 9, 2018

Maybe it’s because I studied philosophy in college many years ago. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the deep south in the 1950’s-60’s. Maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic and then, at the age of 27 turned to the “born again” approach to spiritually.

Maybe it’s because I, like Jacob of old, have had to wrestle with God before I could let him into my way of thinking and doing. Maybe it’s because of Moses, or Paul, or Jesus himself that I had this wrestling session yesterday. For whatever reason, I spent yesterday, Sunday, wrestling with God.

Not literally, of course, but mentally, spiritually.

Let me try to explain this.

On Saturday evening, my wife and I shared an evening meal, and several hours,  with a small group of friends whom we have known and loved for a long time, since the early 1980’s. We are, as they say, Christians.

These are people with whom we have, on a regular basis, gathered, prayed, worked, laughed and cried, for most of our adult life. We have all raised our now-adult children together and released them into the great wild world.

My struggle yesterday was precipitated by an ethical dilemma. The problem was working through my mind all day because our host friend had shown us a video link. The half-hour online presentation introduced to us—and to the world, generally— a work of ministry that is being carried out by our hosts’ son-in-law, whose life and struggle is being worked out in his chosen hometown, Ferguson, Missouri.

In the video, Jonathan “JT” Tremaine presents some historical information along with some gospel enlightenment, and he then goes on to explain his vision for justice that is linked to a Christian call to righteousness.

As I ruminated all yesterday (Sunday) on what Jonathan had said, and the images he displayed, I became perplexed while wondering about this thorny question:

Just what the hell is justice anyway?

Is it equality instead of inequality? Is it income redistribution? How does this monumental concept of justice really play out in history, American history?

For many blacks, that idea of “justice” is defined largely by what color of skin a cop sees on the face of some citizen that he is trying to protect, or . . . protect himself against.

And how does justice relate to this “righteousness” thing that we so-called evangelicals like to claim for ourselves?

These are the two primary points—justice and righteousness—that JT raises in his podcast, and in his ministry in Ferguson, Missouri, which he calls “Meet me in Ferguson.”

For many people, especially honkies, neither of these issues is any big deal. Yet that unawareness—that insensitivity— is part of the problem.

The bottom line I’m working toward here is this. Both of these issues—justice and righteousness—are very important issues that we Americans must address if we are going to move forward in our great, historical experiment with democracy.

As the Hebrew prophet of old, Amos, presented a challenge to his people—and to all people throughout history. . .

“Let justice roll down like the waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream!”

This is a message of many prophets of old, and many modern prophets as well, such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks . . .

And Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK1

And Dr. Billy Graham.

BillyG

Say what? Billy Graham? What’s he got to do with social justice?

You probably didn’t know that back in the 1950’s, Billy Graham insisted that the ropes be removed—the ropes separating blacks and whites at his very own gospel crusades. And when racist ushers of that day refused to do it, Billy himself did remove the damned things. So that blacks and whites could, together, participate in the work of bringing in not only righteousness, but also justice.

And we are, y’all, still working on it.

Let Jonathan JT explain. This thing goes way back . . .

  https://www.facebook.com/meetmeinferguson/videos/618272528508148/UzpfSTE3ODQxMTQ5ODg1Njc2NDoxODI4MzQ4NjE3MTk2MzY5/

I’ll finish this struggle session with a song:

Mountaintop

The Rights of Humankind

February 20, 2017

Archives

Twelve score and one year ago Thomas Jefferson submitted an innovative set of political principles to a congress of delegates from thirteen American colonies. The gathered assembly, known as Continental Congress, debated the contents and the merits of Jefferson’s proposal. The document began with these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness–that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .

The world has changed a lot since those words were adopted  as the philosophical basis of a new experiment in civil government. Here are just a few of the ways our world has changed since those revolutionary days:

~ Our fledgling national legislature, known at that time as the “Continental” Congress, is now called the Congress of the United States.

~ We Americans now associate the world “Continental” with Europe.

~ On the “Continent” of Europe, citizen-groups are now struggling to form a workable political basis for a European Union.

~~ Whereas, In the year 1776, when our American Continental Congress adopted a plan for a United States of America, we had a nominal consensus for the basis of our Union; and That consensus was based, rhetorically, upon “certain unalienable Rights, . . . Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; which Rights that had been “endowed” by a “Creator,

~~ In the year 2000,   the European Parliament adopted a Charter of Fundamental Rights of European Union, by which the peoples of Europe are resolved to share a peaceful future based on common values. . . indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity. . . based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

We see, therefore, that the American Union was initiated during an historical period in which faith in a Creator God was still, at least rhetorically, allowed to be a basis for political consensus.

The European Union, however, is coalescing in a post-modern, humanistic age in which their unity can only be expressed in terms of human agreements and motivations, stated above as common values.

As we Americans ultimately divided ourselves into two primary political identities, Democrats and Republicans, with one side being generally associated with  progressivism programs while the other is  based in conservatism,

We notice that in Europe, in what is now a churning crucible of 21st-century economic constraints, the divisions seem to be congealing toward two uniquely Euro polarities. On the Right side, we find the  Austerians, whose values are based on fiscal responsibility and the austerity that is thought to be necessary for maintaining economic and political stability. On the Left side, we find the Socialists, whose values are based on equality that is assured and managed by the State, which should produce solidarity among the people.

As Thomas Jefferson had proposed a declaration based ostensibly on the zeitgeist of the so-called Age of Enlightenment, so has a spokesman stepped forth, in our age, to propose for the Europeans a document that aspires to manifest the zeitgeist of this (perhaps) Age of Equality.

Toward that end, Mr. Yanis Varoufakis, former Finance Minister of the Greek Syriza party, has proposed a five-point plan by which the Europeans would collectively assure the rights of persons as they are understood in this, the 21st-century.

  https://www.socialeurope.eu/2017/01/new-deal-save-europe/

Stated simplistically, those rights are:

~ a collective investment in green/sustainable technology

~ an employment guarantee for every citizen

~ an anti-poverty fund

~ a universal basic dividend (income)

~ an immediate anti-eviction protection.

So we see, now, that in the 200+ years since the inception of American Democratic-Republicanism, the zeitgeist that was then seen as inevitable has changed. In the so-called Age of Enlightenment (c.1776) we were demanding a Government that would Protect our Unalienable Rights, defined broadly as Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.

The modern zeitgeist, however, as it appears to be evolving in the Europe of Our Age, is demanding: a Government to Protect our Basic Life Necessities.

Instead of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, citizens of the World now appear to be demanding Life, Security, and the Pursuit of Equality.

EURomeHdq

And that’s the way it is, 2017. We shall see how this develops as the 21st-century unfolds.

Smoke

Equal Incomes or Outcomes?

August 8, 2015

For some of us life is a race;

for others it’s a spectator event.

While few gather booty with style and grace

many manage only to pay the rent.

 

Now progressives want to yank everything

towards establishing income equality,

while conservatives hate to support anything

except equal access to opportunity.

 

Is opportunity our great American playing field,

or is income the gridiron of our success?

Should we rig the system for equal income yield,

or tweak it to assure the same access?

 

As if such a thing could be done,

manipulating society to evolve a certain way:

everyone marching to the same equality drum,

consuming consumer goodies every day!

 

This sometimes great notion to level the playing field–

do we apply it toward the start-point or the resultant end:

should we guarantee incomes with diverse outcomes to yield,

or provide equal opportunities that equally pretend?

 

This question is for each person to decide,

and I know not course most make take.

In which theoretical society will you reside?

Will you excel, or make as everyone the same mistake?

 

Glass half-Full44a6b-6a0120a79e132f970b01bb08290e66970d-pi

Don’t go ballistic like Cain did

March 10, 2014

I’m a meat-eater, but that’s neither here nor there. Some people are not, and that’s just fine. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. People are different; each person has his/her own preferences. This diversity makes human life much more interesting and dramatic than it would be if we were all the same.

In that  ancient great Book–the one  that is holy and cherished by millions while it is disdained by others–a story is told about two brothers of long ago, Cain and Abel. Cain was growing crops in the ground; Abel was raising flocks of sheep.

Back in those days, men had not yet figured out how cool they were, so they looked to the supernatural realm for inspiration and faith. Many men and women of antiquity  believed in offering a portion of their increase to God. It wasn’t like today, when folks don’t pay attention to such things because they are, you know, on their own.

One day,  these two brothers were offering their sacrifices to God, but, as it turned out, with differing results.The book of Genesis reports that God had regard for Abel’s sacrifice, but not for Cain’s, whatever that means. The common interpretation of this is that God rejected Cain’s offering, but received Abel’s. If God did indeed reject Cain’s sacrifice, the Bible provides no explanation of God’s preference in this incident.

In Christian tradition, writ large and writ small, this event has been for a long time a matter of some study and speculation.  Some have inferred that God was indicating a preference for meat instead of veggie or grain produce, or simply an acknowledgement that meat has more protein value as food for us humans. Or maybe God’s apparent distinction was based not on the foods being offered, but on some difference between the two brothers themselves. Perhaps Cain had offered low quality goods, while Abel had reserved his best for God. Or it could be that Cain just had a bad attitude. We don’t know.

What we can see in this story is that God’s acknowledgement of one brother’s offering was not the same as his regard for  the other. That’s about it.

Those of us who believe in God, and in the Mosaic revelation about God’s attributes, can derive with surety only one lesson from this demonstrative story about God’s preference: whatever God does, he does. Or, to put it the other way, whatever he doesn’t do, he doesn’t do. There is no need for him to justify his acceptances to us. Who are we to question the One who created all things?

And we have to live with that.

Christians and others who value the Genesis revelation have this awareness of the Almighty’s sovereignty, which is absolute because God is the Creator who set all things in motion. Our conception if God is fundamentally different from our view of humans, whom we know to be fickle, inconsistent, generally unpredictable, contentious, and sometimes murderous.

The reality of God’s sovereign will was not a lesson that Cain was ready to accept. He got upset about God’s apparent rejection of his offering. So Cain killed his brother.

Is God guilty of some injustice here? Is God unjust because he did not receive both sacrifices as equal?

No.

Equality, as venerable as it is, is a human notion.  According to our Declaration of American Independence, the God who created Nature also created men and women, and created them all equal. This means that we, as men and women who need to govern ourselves, must form institutions that regard all persons as equal if we want to work together toward societal justice.

Let’s accept the human idea that all persons should be equal in the eyes of human law.

But we are individuals; that is important. Furthermore, equality of individual persons is a valuable truth for prioritizing our behaviors and institutions.

Once a baby is born, the wonderful dynamic of that person’s unique circumstances–nature and nurture and all that–determines what that person is, who they become, and how the work of their hands and mind is received by others, or for that matter,  by God.

But this does not mean everyone’s input and output will be equal. In that sense, we are not equals. This inequality affords us a thoroughly fascinating human race, with a beneficial diversity of inputs and outputs, and hence a vast range of incomes and outcomes.

Let us make judicial provisions for equality of opportunity for each person. But equality of income and outcome is ultimately a matter that is determined by each person’s use of the resources available to him/her.

If you have something to offer to God, or to the world, do not go ballistic if it is ignored or overlooked. Just find the lesson in that rejection; then go back and try again. You will have better results than if you, like Cain, get mad and kill someone.

As for Cain’s fate after his crime, God spared him the death sentence, and allowed him to wander away to the land of Nod, east of Eden, where he took a wife. Perhaps her feminine influence, coupled with the Lord’s chastisement, mellowed him out a bit.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, soon to be published

The Notion of Equality

June 9, 2012

To say that God created all men

equal,

Now that is one thing. But

to apprehend the throne of God and then

set up men as his replacements, in order to

equalize

all the inequality, that is another.

It just aint natural to try and make

everybody equal.

I mean

Lenin tried that, right? And then Stalin and

look what happened there.

Oh they had a great idea, right.

To rip down the palatial pile of czarist wealth and

redistribute it, so everybody’s got the same.

Looks good on paper but then

the working out of it, the the the i mean the

blood

the gulag and the schmulag and the ragtag

enforced

equalization of it, well it . . .

you tell me.

What about Mao’s millions

laid upon the altar of

the people’s perfect plan,

some great hungry leap forward to revolutionize culture

like some vulture

would do, and then cometh Pol Pot,

with the common pot, and a head shot

and oh what an income redistribution hotshot.

I mean, you

may think I’m oversimplifying this but hey

that’s the point.

Filling God’s shoes with human ruse now

that’s a tall order.

How’s that workin out for ya?

Glass Chimera

Redquity, Whitequity, and Bluequity

January 25, 2012

From the moment of our bloody birth

this equality thread’s sewn a sturdy seam;

it flaps red dream stripes across our flagg-ed earth,

as justice in a dream.

That sanguine color was borrowed from French egalit’e;

yet runs red on American soil,

so every man and woman’s own unique regalit’e

might flourish bright in blood, and sweat, and toil.

Now the extremities of our ruptured economic wounds

draw social sympathy for Occupy Red Square,

while our banner stripes flap o’er flagging glooms.

Does anybody care?

 

’cause t’was like a row of stony marble whites

set upon each soldier’s devotion given wholly,

we laid our solemn hopes and fights

on Arlington ground made holy,

while all across this manifest destiny quest

sprang picket-white fence, and courtly documents

to assure each citizen’s effort best

to prosper and to thrive, in enterprising sacraments,

as white stripes snap o’er our flaggy threadbare cares;

they’re new as the driven snow,

and prosperity blooms bright on our equity shares

with wealth and health to grow.

 

We always held high that true blue hope

from mom and pop, of limitless expanding sky,

of deep blue ocean, and work, and cleansing soap,

purple mountain majesty and  blueberry pie.

Oh, mister bluebird on my shoulder,

do you still sing with America singing?

Can we whistle and rhyme and yet grow bolder

with our cracked bell of Liberty still ringing?

Hey Bo, can you thump us that delta thang?

But don’t tread on my blue ragtime shoes.

Go set yo’self down on the front-porch swang.

Flap us your red, your white, your field of starry blues.

 

O, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?

Does it fly high o’er the level playing field,

while our anthem’s strains cry out to  save

opportunities to knock and profits to yield?

We’re not making equality here,

’cause Nature’s God done created that;

we’re merely holding these principles dear–

of freedom to blog and liberty to chat!

To gather on the public square,

to prosper, to invest, to build on equity that grew,

to pray and to love and forever to care,

to flow red, flap white,  and shine like the starry blue.

Glass half-Full

Egalit’e

April 24, 2011

When the noble ideal of egalit’e among men leads to state-enforced egalitarianism it degenerates to tyranny. This historical truth is seen in the bitter collateral damage of the French revolution and the Russian revolution.

The proper function of government in regard to equality is to protect equal opportunity, not to impose an institutional egalitarianism. Where Marxism went wrong, and degenerated utimately to Stalinism, was in force-feeding societal equality to all citizens. Likewise, among the Chinese, the reign of Maoism following their 1949 revolution degenerated to oppressive governmental structures from which the people are still striving to free themselves. The Russians too.

The earlier revolution, the one that happened here in America, presented equality as a God-given attribute of the human race. That has made quite a difference in the playing-out of it.  Jefferson, Franklin, and the many leaders who followed them were breaking new ground on an undeveloped contintent. That has also made quite a difference in the flowering of American equal opportunity among men and women.

The French revolutionary model, established soon after the American one, was encumbered from its inception with the weight of millenia of societal baggage, heaped upon the people mostly by the Church in Rome. When French republicans succeeded in freeing themselves from the bondage of the ancien regime, their progress was quite different from the wild and wooly American experience.

About a century later, Marx took a remnant of that French egalite principle and ran with it; it later developed as historical Marxism. Under the brutally communist hands of Josef Stalin, it enslaved and murdered millions of Russians and east Europeans.

Thus the revolutionary ideal in old Europe developed quite differently than the American experiment.  Our working out of it emphasized equal opportunity instead of enforced equality. That had a lot to do with our continent-wide abundance of undeveloped land. This is the heart of American exceptionalism; Such swift and wide incubation of democratic conditions will never happen again in the history of this world.

But these days, the old Western debate of democratic republicanism vs. authoritarianism is being rendered irrelevant due to the forceful power of Islam.

What was previously a philosphical debate, then a multi-faceted political division and military wars, has now retrograded to a more fundamental debate among homo sapiens: a religious struggle.

The Protestan Reformation, and the humanistic Enlightenment that accompanied it, eclipsed a millenial Roman Catholic domination of European culture and its institutions.  One result was a vast power vacuum. The revolutionary ideals that bloomed as political movements thereaftere drifted further and further from their religious moorings, and back toward archival Greek philosophic underpinnings.

Now western revolutionary zeal, having wrested itself from authoritarian Catholicism, has bankrupted itself of spiritual stamina. Its wantonly amoral end now renders us culturally weak as compared to the  heavy legalistic hand of Islamic fundamentalism.

So we in the post-European world will be playing catch-up ball to recover a principled spiritual heritage. This is a situation analagous to that in which Churchill and the British were struggling to prepare their defense against the onslaught of Nazism and Fascism in the late 1930s.

Oh what a dear price the people of Britain and their Allies paid. Never had so few sacrificed so much for so many, said Mr. Churchill, about the hardly-won defeat over authoritarian tyrrany in Europe.

Our generations probably face  similar upheavals in the years ahead.

I know not what course others may take. I take my refuge, and my inspiration in the One who, having decided not to participate in the prolonged skirmish, chose instead to spread his arms and allow the powers of this world to crucify his body so that spiritual rebirth could begin for all mankind.

Resurrection is better than insurrection.