Common Ground


In these days when political correctness is not politically correct …
When pundits talk of two sides in their own bubbles …
When we are so reticent to share what we believe, concerned that things we say not hurt or offend someone else …
In these days of polarization …
Is there no common ground?

Is not the common ground tolerance and understanding?
Is not the common ground justice and equality for all?
Is not the common ground abhorrence of hate and embrace of love?

Once upon a time, a year or so ago,
I thought there was a wide, beautiful river of common ground
running through our hearts, our world.
I yearn for that time before I saw
the truth of what we have become.

God, have mercy on us
and give us wisdom and compassion.
God, have mercy on us
and give us courage to speak truth and act for justice.
God, have mercy on us
and show us the way to redemption.

Hate, Emboldened

Hate, emboldened,
Steps out of a closet,
Packs a suitcase,
And drives to Virginia.

Hate, emboldened,
Does not feel the need
To cover up with hoods or robes.

Hate, emboldened,
Marches in the light of day,
And illuminates the night
With torches and spotlights.

Hate, emboldened
By “free speech”
And “take back what is ours.”

Hate, encouraged by anger,
By fear, by prejudice.

Hate, empowered by the silence
Of political leaders,
Of church leaders,
Of ordinary people
Like me.

Rise up, voices of truth,
Voices of light,
Voices of courage.
Embolden Love.

Color

img_4583

The scientists say
We are more alike
Than we are different

Our genetic code
Shows that we all
Have the same mother
From whom we have descended

But
It is
The color of our skin
That has created
This world where
Those with black and brown skin
Struggle to exist

This world where
Those with black and brown skin
Are suspect

This world where
Those with black and brown skin
Fear for their lives
When they go about
Their daily business

God, you created us
More alike
Than we are different

Save us from ourselves
From our prejudice
Our injustice
Our fear

Save us
Transform us
Comfort us
And show us the way
To be your people
One people
Once again

 
Find more of my blessings in my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings. Subscribe to my video channel at YouTube.

#kellyonmymind

1507089_1548278558771412_3191259422777083226_n

A few weeks ago I found myself deeply affected by the impending execution by the State of Georgia of Kelly Gissendander who was convicted of participation in the death of her husband. My denomination, The United Methodist Church, and my personal beliefs are against the death penalty, no matter who the person is or what they have done. I have not been an activist against state executions in a number of years.

But hearing the story of Kelly Gissendander and seeing pictures of her smiling face in her graduation from Chandler School of Theology hit me in a different way. I found myself watching the clock, refreshing my Twitter feed in order to find out what was going on, and praying, praying, praying. Kelly was not put to death that evening and has had a temporary stay put on her execution.

I have been wondering about why I was so captivated by Kelly’s story when there are so many facing the same fate. I confess: I think it was because she looks like me, she’s not that different from me. In the right (or wrong) circumstances, it could have been me facing death on death row.

I was reminded of this quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-1956), The Gulag Archipelago

I truly believe that we all have within our own hearts the capacity for both good and evil. So how can I condemn and condone the state killing of someone on my behalf?

Since that evening of Kelly’s reprieve, Manuel Vasquez was killed by the state of Texas and I didn’t hear a thing about it. There are 13 other executions scheduled in the United States this year. Thirteen other children of God facing death on my behalf as a citizen of the U.S. Lord, have mercy. Show us the way.

Let’s continue to fight for life. In the name of the executed and risen Christ. Amen.
Shane Claiborne

Death penalty information.