Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Deep Wounds of Bigotry

"The Beautiful Struggle"
-dark clouds and bright light wrestling in the desert skies-

One of the reasons I watch the Super Bowl every year is because of the clever and innovative commercials that are featured throughout the broadcast. I'd have to say that I was somewhat disappointed this year with a lackluster performance, with one, clear and outstanding exception.

I'm not much of a Coca-Cola drinker, but I sure did love their Super Bowl commercial this year. It featured the many diverse people scattered throughout this nation tenderly singing "America, the Beautiful"- all in their native tongues. Parts of the song were in English, other parts in Spanish, Hindi, Hebrew, various Asian and Middle Eastern languages were also featured. It painted a tender and beautiful picture of the glorious diversity of these United States - all singing a common song, yet preserving their own uniqueness.  It was a picture of the very best that we can be.

As I sat listening to that commercial, quietly humming along, I not only felt a sense of national pride in my country of such beautiful unity-in-diversity, but I had a sense that, "this is how it is supposed to be. This is how human beings are wired. This is how we have been created."  All of us everywhere (all being everywhere), a complex web of dynamic relationship - this is the natural order of things. 

While still basking in the glow of that "America, the Beautiful moment," I soon encountered the underbelly of our common life together as a nation. Almost immediately after that Coke commercial aired, a host of uninformed bigots took to the social media. Twitter was buzzing with howls of protest:

One tweet proclaimed, "From now on the national anthem should be sung in only one Language; ENGLISH." Another announced, "The national anthem wasn't made for Mexican talking, speak English." 

The funny part of this is that "America the Beautiful" isn't  even our national anthem. However, that didn't stop the bigots as their protests polluted the internet, spewing out intolerance and hatred for those who appeared to be different others in this land of liberty and justice for all.

I realized that just as I had felt a sense of warmth and healing when I heard that commercial- that tender singing expressing our complex unity, I felt an equal sense of coldness and pain when I saw those heinous and bigoted protests. As I read the string of vile and hateful tweets, I felt like a knife was being stabbed into the harmonious relationship of the fabric of our human condition, inflicting deep wounds, into our common humanity.

Some people may say that the conflict over the singing of "America the Beautiful" in many languages is nothing more than a dispute between Liberals and Conservatives in America. I don't see it this way at all!

Bigotry is a potent poison that wounds, destroys and tears apart human beings at every imaginable level of our existence- psychological, societal and spiritual. We are all wired, created and woven together into the fabric of a common "relationship," and bigotry tears that relationship into shreds. 

The ability to relish and savor diversity is not some sort of "politically correct" position in a Liberal agenda.  

As I see it, a nation composed of citizens willing to embrace different others and work for common good is what marks the nation as being "civilized." A nation characterized by bigotry is little more than a bunch of barbarians who happen to live in one place.

I sit in my garden this morning at the beginning of a new day. As a "follower of Jesus," I think about the beautiful struggle into which Jesus invited his disciples.  His entire life and teaching was a "beautiful struggle." He stood against the dark forces of empire and domination where only the strong had a place at the table and he made way for every human being to sit at a place of dignity.

He fought against those who would tear apart the fabric of our common humanity and lived a life of healing that which had been torn apart. 

We are still very much engaged in that "beautiful struggle" in this nation and in this world, and you don't have to be a Christian to join the fray.

Albert Einstein once said:

What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice

"Amen" to that!

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