I may no longer believe a word they say, but I can take great comfort in the hymns I learned in childhood.
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
No merit of my own I claim,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On what is my hope built?
A place to begin
I hadn’t realized I already have a post by that title: A place to begin.
I believe in universals.
I believe every sentient creature is, in effect, a child of God. As applies to humans, this means every one — black, white, green, yellow, polka-dotted, purple, every one. Every one.
As God’s children, made in God’s image, we are each of us creative like God, powerful (at least to some extent) like God, and thus have choices (including choices to do good or ill) and responsibility for one’s choices.
I believe God has endowed each of God’s children with a place to begin, a place from which one can begin to act positively to create good things for oneself and one’s community.
To act positively on one’s circumstances, no matter what they are.
That place is here and now, wherever here and now is for any person.
Now, each of us has different gifts and talents; each of us, different limitations. Those are all features of one’s place to begin. One may have a positive or negative attitude; those are, likewise, merely features of “where one’s at,” one’s place to begin. One is free to make positive choices.
It’s possible to be in a bad place; some folk are in places where others are unwilling to go. Thus those others cannot “meet them where they are.” Some are in a very bad place. No one, however, can be in a wrong place. You are where you are, and can as it were be light in that place.
I feel profound joy when I think about such things.
Now, it is true that not all folk choose happy paths for themselves. Some are enamored, infatuated with, malice, grief, turmoil, sadness, anger — darkness, and the “outer darkness” — and so busy themselves creating unhappiness and poverty. And they are unlikely to be deterred, unless one shows them in purely practical terms the advantages of choosing a different way — a way that brings prosperity, that enhances life, that extends life expectancies, and so on.
The fact that some folk are that way need not preoccupy us.
We have better things to do.
The conspiracy theorists
I commented, “Who did this? Or is this another conspiracy theory?”
A contentious exchange ensued, involving her, some Friends of hers who are strangers to me, and myself. I sought to explore whether black Americans have any responsibility for their own choices. Like all conspiracy theorists (such as the 9/11, Sandy Hook and Parkland “Truthers”), these folks proved to
- not listen to reason
- deny facts
- become hostile at the expression of any other point of view.
As to my question, these people all white — would not concede that the black man has any choice, responsibility or power as to his own actions. I was directly told that all difficulty in the black world is the white man’s fault.
It took me a while to accept this:
They really believe that.
The black man, in their view, is not in a hard place, or a bad place, but the wrong place, and it’s the white man who put him there. The black man, in their view, cannot do any thing to act positively on his circumstances. It’s the white man’s obligation to get him out of there.
My hope is built on the opportunity each child of God has, to choose good things.
Their hope is built on the prospect of systemic change.
Just as I hope, they hope. It’s hope either way. Who am I to tell them to redirect their hope?
If we disagree, is not one side of necessity right, and the other wrong?
Excerpted from the final chapter of Free Speech Handbook:
An attitude of “You’re either for us or against us,” of “It’s us or them,” runs the risk that both “us” and “them” have misconceived the issue, are possibly even asking the wrong questions, so that neither side’s stand is correct. Both sides then might correctly turn to the one who says, “I don’t know,” humble themselves and seek from that person a better understanding.
The author of Psalm 8 said in part (“You” here is God.):
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals, that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little lower than angels,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
Awe in the face of the unknown may be the healthiest of all human postures.