It’s my birthday today. I took the day off of work, and I also took a day off from closely monitoring the news, setting out for a hike. It was a wonderful and refreshing hike, up Fireweed Mountain just down the road from my cabin. The weather is beautiful, the sun is shining on us in this magnificent valley, making it feel like a cathedral, surrounded as it is by grand mountains, roaring rivers, and a massive glacial field. But the news cycle caught up with me, and I write this with tears running down my face. It may feel like a cathedral here but there is no sanctuary, no place of escape from the violent karma that is currently raging in our streets. But for many Americans there has never been an escape from police violence.
It’s the weekend, and the protests are in full swing. Police are responding with more violence, in some cases they are pulling protesters off into corners and alleyways, out of the view of cameras, and beating them mercilessly.
What’s happening, in America right now, is the natural consequence of a culture that has rejected justice. It isn’t surprising to me that America is simply repeating cycles of violence and rage rooted in divisions that stretch back to our founding, and beyond.
The harsh reality is that there’s little we can do. Having neglected justice for so long, having pursued only profit, having invested in weapons of war that are now being used by police against American citizens, we are reaping what we have sown.
Biden is not the answer and Trump isn’t the cause.
Given my perspective, turning 42 today, I can say that in the broad scheme of things, given the neglect of justice that has marked American culture during my lifetime, Trump is a chump, a piss ant, an opportunist and a mere caricature of an unjust culture that clings to “American Exceptionalism” with a certain rage that blinds us to the violent and fragile reality that is our true birthright. We are exceptional only for our ability to have so consistently denied justice for the entire history of our nation.
We are reaping what we have sown. The karmic energy of this nation is vomiting up violence and chaos because of our own actions and attitudes. And it will almost certainly get worse before it gets better.
Yet this is also a time of transition, which means that we have the opportunity for a real and genuine revolution. We have the opportunity to plot a new course, to create a new system where justice matters. In short, we can create a world that is beautiful and good. This will all depend, however, on whether we are willing to confront our cultural inner demons and face truth.
It’s been a time for many of us to ask, What can I do? And for most Americans, overtaxed and exploited as they are by their corporate Overlords, this is, for many, the first time they have seriously engaged this question with the gravity and seriousness that it deserves. Others of us have been rattling the cage for a while. I’m in the latter camp but I’ve been asking the question all the same, in solidarity with the many victims of police brutality, but also because when things start to shake up it’s good to be thinking about strategy, to re-think what we are doing to impact the world and to bring about liberation, liberation that is spiritual, cultural and political.
For me this thinking has led me to the belief that it’s time to start writing honestly and truthfully about my experience as an evangelical. This instinct of mine was confirmed recently when Trump violently removed protesters in order to shoot a photo op, holding the Bible high in a clear message to his evangelical base that he is aligned with them.
Evangelicals are the only major demographic keeping Trump in power, with even the small shred of credibility and political approval that he has left. Yet as I said it isn’t Trump that’s the ultimate problem. It’s the evangelicals who have supported Trump, because they have been aligned with injustice for the entirety of my lifetime. And Joe Biden won’t change that. Not by a long shot.
It is not on Trump. It’s on those among my own friends and family who have supported this system of injustice, supported and wholeheartedly embraced capitalism and patriarchy and have done so in such a complete and totalitarian way that many no longer have any ability to discern good and evil.
The roots for this run deep, and I have lived it. It has marked the entirety of my life.
This is something that I have struggled to give voice to. I’ve tried but between my own anger, ego and inability to articulate, I’ve largely failed. Yet if we are to truly engage in a process of revolution, we must sort through the roots of the violence that has now exploded.
For Trump, evangelicals have just been a part of his political strategy. He bet on evangelicals and he won. But this was no mere oversight on the part of evangelicals. Trump is the president that best represents their view of the world, a view of the world that has always been toxic. This toxicity didn’t begin with Trump and it won’t end in November, no matter who wins.
We need to speak to this.
All of us. Each in our own way.
I close my birthday and this post with a biblical passage taken from one of my favorite books, Ecclesiastes.
Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed– and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors– and they have no comforter.Ecclesiastes 4:1