“White man celebrates something that happened 2,000 years ago. To him, nothing’s happened since then. It’s all over. All he can do is remember. Indian’s celebrate what’s happening now. When the sacred strawberries come up in early spring, that’s what we celebrate. They’re not just strawberries to us. They’re the Creator’s gift to his children. They’re good to eat, good to drink. But more than that, they have the Creator’s power in them.”
— Chief Louis Farmer; Eel Clan; Onondaga Nation.
Every four years, the majority of republicans in their primary will speak of the United States as being a “Christian nation.” That leap year mythology — that the Founding Fathers political beliefs were rooted in their church — is clearly false: a reading of Jefferson’s writings, for example, knocks the legs out from under this attempted leap of faith before it can jump off the ground. Clearly, these men were intent upon a wall of separation between church and state.
There have been a number of Americans who have exercised their personal religious beliefs in a manner that advanced social justice in our country. The majority of these men and women were not career politicians. Not all of them were Christians. Indeed, not all of those advocating for social justice are religious.
Likewise, in today’s society, there are a number of honorable people who are committed to the Good Fight — the struggle for social justice — and this includes, but is clearly not limited to, some who are Christians. Yet, if we step outside the picture frame to get an objective view of America, based upon the message that the Pope delivered while touring our country last year, the United States is not in a position to claim an elite, moral high-ground.
The above quote from Chief Farmer helps to define one of the stumbling blocks that prevents our country from reaching that potential. It’s a cultural dynamic that is not limited to religion, though the overlapping results from this form of disconnect is expanded by the mindset that Chief Farmer identified. It’s found in the removal of Jesus from where he rightly belongs — in the context of humanity — and placing his image on a stained glass window. It is found in the wealthy using donations to a church as a convenient tax write-off. The stumbling block is found in mega-churches that worship opulence.
It is not a coincidence that Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign in rooted in the same spirit as found in the Pope’s message to America. The media tended to provide good coverage of the Pope. And they were pretty accurate in delivering his message. That same media, while it no longer completely ignores Bernie, continues to have largely negative coverage of Sanders’s message.
The result has been that “social media” has been the vehicle that propels the Sanders campaign. Those who are getting their “news” from a variety of sources, tend to have different opinions about the primary, than those who primarily get their “news” watching television. It’s good that the debates allowed the public to compare and contrast both candidates’ position. It’s good to listen to their campaign speeches. And to watch old clips on You Tube, and consider who has been consistent.
The republican primary provided a great deal of entertainment to human beings. But it apparently was a painful experience for the republican establishment. Still, it is an important chapter in political history, and it is something that we should both take seriously, and study closely.
Sometimes, the media can fool people into trusting their enemies, and despising their friends. For example, if one believes the media, then every person supporting Trump is a racist. Now, it may be true that every racist supports Trump. Even if by chance that was true, there are still plenty of people who support him for other reasons. These might be reasons that I disagree with. Still, I know that most people who hunt and fish are good environmentalists. Thus, I am comfortable in dealing with them on that common ground.
It’s good to look for common ground, and work from there. It beats the heck out of giving those who disagree with you a label that misrepresents and de-personalizes them ….and then trying to cooperate with them. Not surprisingly, this very thing happens within our party.
I suspect that most of the Clinton supporters to mistake our support of Bernie for a “cult of personality” are sincere. They experience that separation, that results in their being in “fan clubs” for politicians, athletes, and movie stars. So long as they are incapable of grasping that Sanders’s message is a very real social possibility, it remains impossible for them to understand why so many people are working harder for Senator Sanders than they ever have for any other politician. This does not make Clinton supporters bad people, unethical or immoral. It simply means that the Truth has not taken root in them. Thus, while they do not walk in the total darkness of, say, that now extinct species, Ted Cruz supporters, there is a heavy morning fog that prevents them from seeing the rising sun.
Those who inhabit that foggy bottom land tend to be on edge when confronted with “new” thinking. It’s easy to celebrate Martin Luther King’s holiday these days, while ignoring his social gospel. Just like it is more comfortable to edit the message of Philip and Daniel Berrigan from our collective social conscience, than to connect their messages on what the Vietnam War was doing to America’s soul, from the US involvement in the Middle East today.
Our society is facing extremely serious problems. Pretending that climate change isn’t a pressing issue — indeed, the most intense threat that humanity faces — won’t make it safer to continue living like we do. Forgetting that US forces are engaged in violence every day does not change the reality that they are. Lying to ourselves about how corruption has saturated our political system can only cause that corruption to become more entrenched, something that might seem impossible when one looks at Washington, DC today.
To the extent that we can work together with individuals and groups that think differently than ourselves, we will be successful in addressing these crises that confront us all. For we are not sitting on some imaginary fence (or great wall) that will provide safety and comfort for some, while damaging others. Things like earthquakes and cancer touch everyone’s lives.
At a time when every social group appears to be contracting, and becoming more emotionally out of touch with others, only one national group is actually growing. It’s what is known as the Sanders Revolution. It’s a non-violent revolution: we aren’t throwing bricks from rooftops, we are simply trying to discuss issues that normally aren’t talked about in campaigns. It’s not one group seeking to grab power over others: what we are advocating is social justice, which benefits everyone.
An Lamh Foisteanach Abu!
Patrick R. McElligott