“Let man be noble,
Generous and good:
For that alone
From all the Living
Beings we know…
…Let the noble man
Be generous and good.
What is just and useful:
Let him be a model
For those beings whom he surmises.”- Goethe
(And her too, by God!)
Having finally watched the movie Spotlight, I was outraged and saddened. The movie follows the investigative reporters in Boston verifying the local and then world-wide systematic abuse of children by priests. I remembered a bumper sticker that said, “If you are not furious, you’re not paying close enough attention.” My old roommate used to say that “Things are always much darker than people think,” and I would counter with, “Things are much lighter than people are aware of.”
Religion has often been compared to a country club. It is the smugness of the members of the club regarding this abuse that rots its foundation. My friend Drake Powe has often pointed out to me that wherever there is a strong light there will be a strong shadow.
Watching the show Call the Midwife, I am moved to tears almost every time at the humanity of the nuns in East London. This show is taken from an actual account of life as a midwife in the nineteen fifties. These dedicated women use their faith, not as a smug affiliation that allows them to leave their responsibility at the door but motivates them to roll up their sleeves and provide service, mercy and kindness to many who have never received these things in sustaining portions.
My friend Janeen once said if women ran the various religions they would be not only closer to God but beneficial to human beings as well. While I tend to agree with her, we all have to take responsibility for our shadows.
Yesterday, I read an article * written by a young man who went to a Trump rally, expecting it to be funny and he was horrified at the crowd’s ugly, antagonizing intolerance towards any protesters. Even a man silently wearing a shirt that said, “Love is the answer,” was thrown out and ridiculed.
A group of farmers fought the most powerful army in the world to create the first nation in history that was not ruled by a dictator or a king but by the people for the people. Here is our shadow abdicating love and responsibility using the word Freedom to justify hatred, racism and greed. We are bigger than this. We are stronger than this and each of us individually, while not being perhaps as strong or consistent as the nuns in Call the Midwife can make a difference despite our shortcomings and fluctuations.
It is never too late to exercise freedom of choice. May we choose freedom for ourselves and those around us.
Friday night’s attacks in Paris reached Julia and I while we were at a music conference with our community of musicians and promoters. Heartache and shock mingled with the fear that makes you want to lock yourself away. One of the DJs who informed us what had happened also told us that she lives in Boston and had just been talking to a completely segregated high school of black students. When she discussed the Civil rights movement with them, the students could not get their heads around white people risking their lives so black people could vote or white people wanting to help them at all since they are still experiencing such complete segregation. In the middle of the country, there is a woman who works for Black Lives Matter who was recently sent death threats by the kkk. She is being targeted because she has adopted black children. One of her friends came and got the children without hesitation. This DJ explained to the children in Boston that the kkk was a gang. A gang of white people with the same mentality as the Bloods and the Crips. She told them to remember that if they were being recruited by one of the gangs in town that the gang, like the klan and other terrorist groups, would be about violence and would be asking them to perpetrate violence for the sake of violence.
My friend Drake once said that with great light comes a great shadow. Recently, we have seen a shift in society with marriage equality and the confederate flag being taken down from the state capital of South Carolina. This backlash is part of the shadow created by the light of our desire to become more human.
We can cower before the shadow or we can refuse to be bullied and light up the globe from so many angles, the shadows get smaller. Seeing world monuments and people’s Facebook profile pictures flying the Tricolour in support of Paris shows me that we are still human and care for one another. It becomes all too easy to have a militaristic response and paint one another the role of the enemy. This is about an individual choice to be non-violent and more loving in our personal interactions. It is a time to uphold our friendships. Refuse to forgo your joy but feel it intensely and send it out into the shadows.
Liberty, equality, fraternity (and sorority baby)