Saturday, March 22, 2008
Religion, race and politics . . .
I've thought deeply since I blogged the "Damn Mad" post where I swished my brushstroke of anger-- in response to another's rage-- and in the process I splattered Barack Obama and dripped on others by implication. The very act of doing so seems to have aroused equal passion in many, not a bad thing.
Anger festers, if not expressed. Like a dormant volcano, long-held anger catches us by surprise by its seemingly out of proportion explosion. Anyone who has been a recipient of an unexpected tirade can vouch for the "Where did that come from?" feeling. Rev. Wright's comments caught me blind.
Anger spawns anger; it elicits a defensive response, often expressed by an equal explosion of rage. Until the lava cools, neither side is capable of hearing the other, let alone understanding the anger's source. It's a chain reaction. Something lit Wright's fuse, and he lit mine.
Anger is a bi-product of hurt, misunderstanding. It's a cry of pain. A cry of self-preservation. A protective armor.
We all have our armor of course. Those who wear theirs daily, and perhaps sleep in it, carry a heavy load. So much energy is required to drag this coat of mail, that it becomes the first and foremost task of living: protection. Stay angry, stay safe.
My armor is the shield I held up to deflect Reverend Wright's broad-brush painting of white America. I'll lower it now and examine the spattered mess lying at my feet.
The volcano rumbles, still. The race issue needs careful release, lest it erupts in way's we've seen before. Way's that spawn more anger. Ways that kill. Ways that require heavier armor. Ways that perpetuate the divide.
Obama gave a level response. Some say he broad-brushed white Americans. Some wish for greater denunciation of his former pastor. Maybe so. But I'll put my armor down and listen to the message behind the message, that at least was delivered sans visible anger. We have to listen to understand, and understand to solve problems.
Someone asked me pointedly what I've done to help the situation.
Not a lot, but all I can: teaching tolerance to my students, making them aware of the different points of view we must use to view the past and present, raising my kids to not to hate or fear what's different, giving them an outlook that requires they walk a mile in another's shoes . . . it isn't much. We're sheltered here in small town America. But I like to think my small offering is added to those of millions across the country and across the world . . . and I share a dream.