Monday, January 30, 2017

Touchstones of Truths, Part I

First in a three-part series.

Greetings, Readers... I hope!  This will begin a special series, so come along for the ride!

Truth is something humanity has been attempting to perceive throughout history. Facts, let alone any greater Truths, in an age of spin, digital doctoring, and fake news can be difficult to trace.  It is a concept, an abstraction, and an objective to seek in both public and private life. Consider this thought of Sir William Osler, who was a Canadian physician.  He wrote: “No human being is constituted to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and even the best of men must be content with fragments, with partial glimpses, never the full fruition.”     Emily Dickinson once said it was a ‘rare thing.’  In the song No More Lies, written by Justin Hayward, The Moody Blues sang of Truth as addiction and “in all its glory.”  John Keats in Ode on a Grecian Urn wrote: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty…”.  Jesus Himself in John 8:32 (KJV) told his Disciples:  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  Yet, here we are in 2017, still trying to seek and understand what we can only partially apprehend.  Certainly this search is a lifelong journey. However, in this three part series, I wish to propose some touchstones of truths I have observed for consideration.

Hey, We’re All Human

Should we really have to go over this again and again?  Rather than pore over statistics on things such as hate crimes, think about the fact that the W. K. Kellogg Foundation sponsored a National Day of Racial Healing on January 17, 2017.   Events were held in communities across the country.  The advance PR for this cited the recent divisiveness of the election for bringing racial wounds front and center.  Dr. Gale C. Christopher, a Foundation senior advisor, wrote that “racism is rooted in the false belief in a human hierarchy (emphasis mine).”    Or consider the fact that in Arizona, a bill was proposed which would target social justice programs and events in schools. It seems the bill itself will not be advancing, but all must keep vigilant to ward off such short-sightedness.  There are overviews here and hereLate word can be read here.

It seems some folks still haven’t gotten the memos. Why isn’t learning about each other a joy?  What exactly is so threatening about diverse folks coming together?   One of those memos, the poem Human Family, brilliantly written by the outstanding Maya Angelou, was featured in a recent television commercial.

We need to realize that racism, institutionalized racism and yes, segregation are all real.  For example, there are studies that show schools are more segregated then before Brown v Board of Education and this separation is also tied to class and poverty.  You can read an overview of the GAO studyThe UCLA Civil Rights Project also did a study.  That one found that the average African American or Hispanic student’s school was approximately 67% low income, while for the average white student the figure was approximately 40%.  Housing also often tends to be segregated.  Doesn’t worship also tend to be segregated?  When is the last time you (or I) attended any interfaith worship service?  Even among Christians , worship tends to be segregated!  Although this may not seem to be related, in case anyone has noticed, there has been a trend toward privatization of public spaces , here in the U. S. and elsewhere.

What does all of that mean?  It means we often don’t know folks who are different from ourselves.  It means we need to find ways of coming together.  Recent actions by progressives have shown both the joys and challenges this entails.  We need to reach out to a diversity of people in our communities.  Inclusive public events, inter-parish and interfaith worship services, community projects that attract a variety of volunteers, can help us along in the agenda of getting to know one another, engaging in dialogues, and beginning to really work together for real progress.

Tomorrow: another touchstone 

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