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United by belief
I remember a conversation I had while in seminary among several persons of different faith practices. Our conversation settled on the afterlife and what to expect. We agreed, after much laughter and serious postulating, that two versions of the afterlife held prominence. We thought, “a full heaven and an empty hell” or “a full hell and an empty heaven.” We laughed because we humans were trying to wrestle with the question of divine judgment and final destination.
I was arrogant enough when I was a young believer; I thought I knew the mind of God and could say with authority “this person and not that person!” However, my many years of ministering among people during incarceration, hospitalization and the verge of death taught me that I know nothing about God’s mindset. How could I boast, yes boast about whose lifestyle merited eternal damnation or paradise bliss?
It was my birthday recently and I consider myself blessed to be an older person. I now trust that everyone has a spirituality; there is something for everyone to believe.
People believed during the healthcare crisis of COVID-19. People believed during the environmental climate change. People believed during Black Lives Matter, the D.C. insurrection and the maturing of our presidential administration. My prayer is that what we all believe and hope for unites us again as Americans, as people of faith and as humanity.
Healing the wound
The big lie of the 2020 election was invented and promoted by our now former president. This tall tale continues to resonate with his base, who have chosen to place their allegiance squarely in the grip of a falsehood rather than accept the courts’ verdicts. Such is the power of an article of faith that requires no evidence.
Over 40 state legislatures are now attempting to leverage this lie into law by putting forward hundreds of bills “intended” to protect us against voter fraud. These are barely disguised voter suppression initiatives, plain and simple. With pinpoint precision they make it more difficult for citizens of color to vote.
History has clearly shown that we are reluctant to share America’s bounty and promise with citizens of color. Even as we celebrate the dynamism of diversity as our nation’s greatest treasure and future, we hold ourselves back by harboring ugly racial stereotypes that get passed down generation after generation.
For the Trump faithful, the big lie will remain an anthem that helps to shape policy and reproduce racist outcomes. Only our active intervention will disrupt this pattern. White resentment will continue as long as we fail to interrogate our deep ambivalence about mending this racial wound.
To say it will take courage to touch this wound is certainly true, but that minimizes how this was always our legitimate work to do as fellow citizens. The real courage is the resolve shown by the oppressed who survived and stayed in the ring even as the blows rained down decade after decade. These are American heroes whose regard for justice and dignity will one day be celebrated. They have kept the dream of equality alive during the long epoch of greed and cynicism that required the invention of racism to justify it.
What we don’t know
For instance, how will this enormous development for farming over 60 million pounds of fish per year impact our lobstermen, our mussel draggers, our clam and worm diggers, and our sea vegetable industries? These jobs span the whole gamut from high- to modest-paying. They are jobs for hard-working Mainers, dependent on their own individual efforts, not on the trickle-down of a foreign corporation. How many of these jobs might be put at risk by increased levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other chemical contaminants in our bay? We simply don’t know, and we can’t know without a trustworthy third-party study.
And how will it impact the health of Frenchman Bay itself? Algal bloom? Red tide? We don’t know. We need to find out, and we need time and a detailed study to help us do this.
What’s the rush? Money? There is too much at stake. Let’s know what we’re doing before we do it.