HAMLET (Speaking to his mother, Gertrude)

Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;
You go not till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.

(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, scene III, act IV)

America let’s sit a moment and talk.  Sit still, while we hold up a mirror so that “you may see the inmost part of you.”

Are you pleased with the America that you see?  Are you pleased with how quickly you have grown, from an infant nation uncertain even in your founding, what exactly you would become?  And listen, anyone proclaiming that they (the founders) had any clue what we would become is either ascribing supernatural powers to themselves, or they are so ensconced in their own reality, with their own perceptions and interpretations of the events leading up to now, that they believe that this is what was intended.

The thing about looking into the mirror is that it takes our 3-dimensional past, displays it as a 2-dimensional image juxtaposed over and under by subsequent images past and present. We end up seeing the breath of the problem but not the depth.

As we look over the events of just the last few months, the abuses of authority, the shooting, the killing of unarmed Black and Brown Men and then juxtapose them over the events of the last few months, in Staten Island, Baltimore, in Ferguson, in Zion, in Cleveland, in Queens, in Pennsylvania, we see a conflation of actions that speak to insidious nature of the institutional racism that exists in our nation.

When we look at the disparity between the way white men and Black men are treated by the justice system what we are seeing is system stripped of all nuance and subtlety.  A system where a knee on the neck of George Floyd, a Black Man by a police officer, and a pat on the back and a bottle of water to Kyle Rittenhouse, a white man who had just been pointed out to police as a person who had just shot three people, killing two of them, are both looked upon, by some, as ok.

A system where Black People are so unvalued that Philando Castile, a Black Man can be shot 5 times and killed in front of his partner and her daughter.

Where Jacob Blake, a Black Father can be shot, in the back seven times, in front of his sons.

Where Breonna Taylor, a Black Woman, can be awakened from her sleep in the middle of the night, shot eight times and killed in her home.

Where Sandra Bland, a Black Woman can be killed in the custody of police for failure to signal in traffic.

All harmed by people sworn to “protect and serve.”

Where Treyvon Martin a Black Teenager can be killed for walking down a street in his father’s neighborhood. 

Where Ahmaud Arbery, a Black Man can be hunted down and killed for simply taking a morning jog.

These Black Men killed by vigilantes with no legal allegiance, just an allegiance to a cause of suppression and oppression of a people who have earned the right to live and be free.

It is the breath of this cause that it gives us pause.  Is this too difficult a task, is this beyond us?  It is the depth of this cause, though, that gives us reason, reason to continue this struggle.

What we are not seeing because of the confusion of that conflation is that, in the depths of the image is a shift in the look and the dynamics of it. In the cacophony of voices and sounds there has been a change in the tone and timbre. The cacophony has become a symphony.

What we must remember about a symphony is that it is more than just a song, it is a series of songs that become a movement. Movements that come together to tell the story, this story, a story of change.

The depths of racism in this country are so deep that at its core it is affecting all of America. Healthcare, education, housing, employment, business, these are all areas touched and influenced by what is a most insidious of affectations.

Racism is a disease of the heart. A disease not unlike the virus COVID19 in that it hardens the heart in much the same way that the virus does our lungs and other organs.

There is a cure, though, for this disease.  It begins with concern and compassion.  It continues with a commitment to caring.  Finally, a will to change.

  • Concern will lead to identifying where the roots of our problems as a people are.
  • Compassion will lead to empathy, the recognizing of another’s pain. To feel another’s pain. To walk a mile in another’s shoes.
  • Commitment to caring is where we lift one another up.  Where we replenish, refresh, and restore the faith of others and our faith in ourselves.
  • Combining these elements gives us a path to a cure to this curse we live with.

Now America, you are a young nation and in your short time you have grown strong and powerful. Strong in your capabilities and powerful in your influence. Look at what is the true source of your strength. Your strength historically has been your diversity. There have been many hands that have pulled the oars, tilled the fields, built the roads, the bridges, the cities.  These hands have come in many colors, they have come from many places but without any one piece this puzzle could not be made complete.

As with those hands, these hands I see raised in protest of our current societal issues are equally diverse.  It is not that we were ever all alone in this struggle, it is that there is a greater understanding of the components involved in it.  There is a greater awareness of how we must fit together, what our role in reconstructing the original founding intent and constructing a new one, a more perfect founding for a more perfect union that extends the promise of America to all its citizens 

This is a time for remembering.  We need to either remember the country we once were, or we need to remember the country we aspired to be. A more perfect Union, always looking to be a better version of us.

In the scripture Matthew 13:15, I believe I have found both cause and cure:

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

America let’s sit a moment and talk.  Sit still, while we hold up a mirror so that “you may see the inmost part of you.”

Let’s Ban Guns!!!

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Aurora, I was going to sit down and angrily write about the need for some form of ban on gun’s.  After a few days I thought, well, maybe we only need to ban automatic and assault type weapons.  Then on reflection I decided that perhaps we need to do away with hand guns (pistols), and concealed weapon permits, the “whole schmear.”

Now before I get the NRA and other 2nd Amendment right’s advocates upset, let me continue.  I thought about this over several days, considered the pro’s and con’s, and came to the conclusion [that]  banning guns is not practical.  I was going  to say “we’re not going to be able to do that!”

Guns.  Guns. Guns.   Sure, some are used for protection.  They’re also used for hunting.  Even for Sport.  But more and more they seem to be misused as a tool to express prejudice and bigotry, fear, hatred, racism, and crime.

I was going to say, let’s try a different track.  Instead of removing guns from our society, let’s remove some of the reasons for gun misuse.

Let’s ban prejudice and bigotry.  Now, from what I understand, prejudice and bigotry are among the reasons that people hate.  With America being this “melting pot,” with so many cultures and creeds living, working, playing, socializing together, this is not the place for bigotry.  But then look around, look and listen to the rants.  Our born in America President is somehow foreign.  Muslims can’t be trusted, they are trying to infiltrate us, trying to convert us all to Islam.  Trying to impose Sharia Law on America (right, like any law could get passed with this “do nothing” congress).  Mexicans and other Latin Americans are invading our borders, taking our jobs.  Using our safety nets.  These people will never “learn what it’s like to be a real American.”  Ok, ok, we’re not going to be able to do that.

I was going to say, let’s ban hatred, then.  I don’t know, hatred has been around for an awful long time.  A lot of people have invested heavily in hate.  Some people have hated for so long, they are not even sure why they hate.  Hatred is fueled by fear.  Fear of the unknown and the known.  That something is unfamiliar or just plain different is no reason to fear, but we are kind of lazy and it’s easier to fear and denigrate than it is to learn and understand.   Hatred has two nature’s.  One is as a driver for racism.  What we saw back in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School was prejudice and bigotry fueling the hatred that drove some of the citizens of Little Rock to commit some racist acts.  As egregious as those acts were they paled when compared to the hate filled racist act of shooting and lynching Emmet Till,  the Birmingham church bombing, the shooting of Viola Liuzzo. and the assassinations of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King.  The other is personal.  It is driven by the fear of retribution the hater has of the hated.  It is real, to the hater, simply because they know how they would feel were the situation’s reversed.  Ok, ok, we’re not going to be able to do that.

So let’s say [that] we ban racism.  Racism is the “action arm” for prejudice and bigotry.  Racism driven by hatred (imagine racism riding in the back of the limo, with hatred driving, chauffeur’s cap and all) strives to contain and control.  Empowered by prejudice and bigotry, racism limit’s opportunity for growth.  It creates laws that limit access to power.  Racism is “Dred Scott v. Sandford.”  It’s “Plessy v. Ferguson.”  Racism is “Jim Crow laws.”  Racism is “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,”  said by, Gov. George Wallace at his 1963  Alabama inaugural.  Racism is vigilante lynching’s.  Racism is Rosewood, Florida and the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Racism is colored only signs, it’s being forced to ride in the back of the bus.  Racism is attack dogs and fire hoses.  Racism is standing in the doorway at the University of Alabama, racism is the gauntlet of epithets and intimidation at Central High School in Little Rock.  From past Supreme Court decisions to the current  hearts of men, racism is so ingrained in our society, that banning it, well, we’re not going to be able to do that, either.

So now, we have racism, driven by hatred, fueled by fear, empowered by prejudice and bigotry, then you add guns to that mix and therein lies the rub.  Guns become a means of expression for these things. ( Hmm, I wonder if guns can be designated as people, and bullets protected as free speech?  Make’s about as much sense as “Citizens United,” doesn’t it?)  Anyway, banning these things has proven to be virtually impossible throughout our history.  Battles over property or treasure can be resolved with negotiated borders.  Battles over ideology seem to know no such boundaries.

Let’s ban crime.  Let’s make all crime illegal. Lets’s make any crime committed, that involves a gun, a special circumstance crime, with a specific set of penalties.   Oops, we’ve already done that.

Consider this, a group of people (any people) who have been institutionally excluded from significant segments of a society (any society), a people who have been ostracized and demonized by that society, do you see how that people would have a problem with respecting the rules of that society?  These exclusions could be a result of color, creed, culture or class bias’, or any combination thereof.   There are a number of thesis’ that speak to the fact that prejudice and bigotry, hatred and racism are driver’s (some say primary driver’s), of crime.  Specifically, crimes against person’s.  Prejudice and bigotry are used as justification for oppression.  At some point, the oppressed seek relief.  When relief is not found within the system, it is sought elsewhere.  Racism, is the tool used to deny an oppressed people even an opportunity to grow and succeed.  At some point, the denied seek redress.  When redress is not given within the system, it is sought elsewhere.  The elsewhere in these cases is sometimes found outside of the law.  One can argue that crime justified by prejudice, bigotry, hatred and racism is not rational.  That is true.  But, prejudice, bigotry, hatred and racism are not rational, either.

The truth is, these days there is no way to discuss guns, or race relations, for that matter.  Guns, like the Bald Eagle, have become emblematic of who we are as a society.  Any attack on the “right’s” of gun owners is deemed to be an attack on America itself.  That, though, is not true.  Owning and using gun’s, when viewed within the context of our history, shows their value.  Their value, though, is as a tool, not as a god.  We are allowing guns to define us, as opposed to us defining  them, and their utility.  As for race relations, well as long as we have prejudice and bigotry creating the fear, that is fueling the hatred, that is driving the racism…..

I was going to say all of this, and then this happened:


So now, again, I’m saying “LET’S BAN GUNS!!!!!”

To the citizens of Oak Creek, Wisconsin:

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those killed, injured and victimized by this senseless act.  (I’m getting so tired, so very tired, of saying that sentence.)  May God bless you, keep you, and give you peace.