A Message from Fr. Jim

Posted on July 28, 2020 in: General News

I’m hoping this addresses some of our critical social issues from a vantage point of Spirituality.

Hate knows no racial, ethnic, religious, class or education barriers, it burrows into the human heart and takes hold.  Weapons manufacturers have long known this, find the hate, solve it with hate, and reap the profits. Too much hate going around, with no commitment to replace it with something that heals. I believe that the lawful nonviolent demonstrations in response to racism are needed, but are only step one, building is way harder with no easy immediate gratification. Ah delayed gratification, that white middle class value so roundly despised.  Easy to hate, easy to tear down, to destroy, hard to take the brokenness of humanity and try to build something better. I’m glad people are upset and angry about social injustice and dysfunction, we should be; I’m skeptical as to how many are in it for the long haul, who actually have a plan to build, to replace broken systems with worthy ways of all of us living with one another in harmony and acceptance. Harmony, systemic harmony, anyone have a plan for that, a blueprint?  I’m biased, I’d say Jesus Christ, but no one ever born has been treated with more indifference than he, most especially by those who claim some allegiance to Him.  But if systemic racism is a truth, systemic harmony can be too.  Who is talking about the privilege we need to create that could be embraced by many so as to make harmony the new social truth.  People seem to like privilege if they are on the right side of it, like it enough to institutionalize it, what would the world look like if we had harmony privilege? No race involved, no class involved, if you live you can have some? And blessed by it, you can build.

Selfishness is a very slippery truth also, have you ever met someone who is not in some fashion selfish?  I haven’t had the pleasure yet myself, including myself.  So how do you build a just and equitable world that does not solve the problem of selfishness which will, if you buy the premise of privilege, not morph into some sort of privilege for the few at the expense of the many.  White privilege is just another name for selfishness, institutionalized and rationalized, and every group, every race, every nationality, every political affiliation seems to crave this advantage.  Selfishness, no justice, no peace, I’d love to hear that at a protest, but I won’t hold my breath.  And yes, there certainly are many who are truly committed to the common good, the greater good, but in my experience not enough; Ayn Rand got it right I think, most revolution is the process whereby the oppressed become the oppressors.  I can be justly outraged by hate and selfishness propelled into destructive and sinful behavior, but not committed to the next steps, the building up needed to vanquish hate and selfishness.  A commitment to non violence and unselfishness is both daunting and it is not the angry agenda, the tear down, tear down, punish, destroy I’m angry and I’m righteous, my turn to oppress.  When we recognize that racism has hurt, enslaved, marginalized so many people, how do we move beyond the outrage, hot and real, to something that replaces this evil with the good of communion, of cooperation?  It can’t be done without a commitment by all groups to build and reconstruct.  Many criticize demonstrations and demonstrators, but we should know better, too many harbor the power of grievance, and use it for division; experience shows it doesn’t take much of that to highjack a protest or better still a political rally and lead it into mindless violence. 

Just as harmony requires much greater work and a selfless commitment than does hate, so too does justice and equality, and a commitment to the common good rather than to grievance and it’s my turn to get mine.  I’ll give the concept of white privilege its due, but often I think people oversell it as a grand conspiracy in which all whites participate knowingly or unknowingly, ignoring hate and selfishness those very human choices not confined to any one group, which, in my judgment are the basis of the underlying foundation upon which all systemic injustice and social dysfunction rely.  If we are to move past this injustice and dysfunction, we need to marshal a great deal more energy, creativity and cooperation as we build structures and reward systems that insure that harmony is our most prized goal and possession.  Hate and selfishness can’t breathe or grow when confronted by a true understanding of our common cause as humans and a commitment to building up real communion.  Letting go of our default to tribalism when angry or aggrieved requires a firm choice to find the good, to believe in its power and to do the hard work of building structures that not only call it forth but reward it and see it as the only worthy privilege.  This I am sure is the work of any and every disciple of Jesus Christ worthy of the name and calling, people who respond to the grace of Baptism and Confirmation, who believe in and build up the Kingdom of God.

Fr. Jim