Unearned Privileged

One of the themes during the current unrest in our nation is the idea of white privilege.  That is, if you are caucasian you have certain unearned privileges simply because you were born white.

To say that certain people are privileged simply because of undeserved birthrights, in my mind, is obvious.

Time and Space Privilege

None of us gets to choose where we are born, when we are born, and to whom we are born.  I was born in the late 1950s in a small industrial town. We didn’t have much money, but this time and space into which I was born was an undeserved privilege.

For example, what if I had been born in Eastern Europe during the rule of Communism or in rural America during Great Depression?  My life in the small industrial town would have been considered incredibly plush in comparison.

The Privilege of Intelligence and Talent

There are people born with great intelligence and universities and later employers often seek them for their particular privilege. Did they do something of their own accord to develop this innate intelligence? That is a privilege that may allow them to out perform and out earn others and put them amongst the top earners in the world.

Some people are born and gifted with exceptional athletic skills – taller, faster, stronger, and/or better reflexes than the vast majority of the public. They may be able to turn this unearned privilege into a contract with a sports team and possible earn them tens- if not hundreds-of-millions of dollars.

Undeserved Disadvantage

Others are not so fortunate. Some are born in the inner city to single parent households. They may struggle to put food on the table and get basic medical care.  Others are born with debilitating diseases and/or severe limits on their cognitive abilities.  They did nothing to deserve this unfortunate set of circumstances.

Christian are Called to Share

As a Christian, I believe God is clear in his word that we are to help others in need.  This simplest and oft quoted, Love your neighbors as yourselve is a good starting point for believers.  In James 2 it’s a bit more blunt:  “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Photo by lalesh aldarwish on Pexels.com

Later in James 5 there is a warning to the rich “You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you.  The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”

Christians should not look to the super wealthy when we see this warning; we all have some wealth we can share with others.

Again and again in Scripture, we are told to share our privilege with others. This does not say support a mandate by elected officials, WE ARE CALLED personally to help.

Our society would be greatly healed if we all considered how we, not others, might use our particular privilege to help others and help our nation heal.  

“Men and women who can think critically and live compassionately”

I’ve lived through much in my life (the 67 Detroit riots, assassination of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. King, and the violence in Pontiac (MI) following court-ordered desegregation), but the amount of hatred today is unlike what I have ever witnessed. 

There is little, and in many cases, no tolerance for differing viewpoints.  Few are willing to really listen to others.  Instead of dialogue and seeking to understand, it’s shouting down your opposition in irrational anger.  Instead of kindness and respect, we witness dehumanizing language and no respect for personal lives or personal property.

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Photo Credit: Matt Collamer on Unsplash

I heard a great conversation with Pastor Chris Brooks and listening to him help me (white) understand what he (black) sees as significant challenges in the black community.

Pastor Brooks also pinned this quote on his twitter account: “What the world so desperately needs are tough-minded, tender-hearted Christians…Men and women who can think critically and live compassionately! These are the type of people that God will use to change the world” (MLK jr.).

Like many of you, I am praying for our nation, for a return to civility, for peace, respect, resolutions, lawfulness, and that we might all unite as Americans.  Right now that seems impossible, but with God all things are possible.   And…we would do well to remember  that WE ARE ALL made in His image.

Finding Enduring Joy in a Plague

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how fundamentally we are made to be social.

My wife, after seeing her co-workers in her school district on a compilation video, looked at me with tears in her eyes, “I miss everybody.”

As a family, we have been planning video chats almost every night now. We desperately miss our children and grandchildren on the other side of town. We long to give them a hug like we have nearly every week for years.

Walks Become Socials

Daily walks in our neighborhood have turned into a great social. We see other walkers, runners, bikers, rollerbladers, and kids playing (at safe distances). Almost without fail, there are smiles and warm greetings. Why the pleasantries at the height of a pandemic? I think it’s the social connection that is warming our hearts in the midst of so much sorrow.

Love

Jesus, in replying to the religious leaders of the time about the greatest commandment, said, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22).

I Corinthians 13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Our Creator had made us to love and be loved – could this be any more evident than it is today while we are forced apart?

Enduring Lessons

This is a horrific time in which we are all living. We don’t know when it will end and we certainly don’t know what tomorrow holds. But while we all pray for an end to the pandemic, perhaps one of the enduring lessons we can take beyond this day is to put one another first above the television, above social media, above money, above all but God.

Worry Yourself to Death?

How much time do we spend with worry? Worry about our family, worry about our career, worry about our health, worry about our wealth.

We all go through chapters where life does not make sense and we have to navigate difficult situations. As it has been said that you are either in a crisis or you in between crises.

But what does worry do for us? It makes matters worse by the release of the chemical, cortisol.  An article in Psychology Today states, “The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy Number One. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease…”

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Worry can make a bad situation much worse.

Life is not fair and at times extremely difficult, but worry will not only not help, it will make matters worse, potentially much worse.

If you are a worrier, resolve to get this under control. It’s not easy, I know this very well. As a Christian, I often recall the words of Christ in Matthew, “Therefore, I tell you do not worry…”

I TELL you, not recommend, not consider…tell you. Some days I have to remind myself of these words repeatedly.

If you are looking for a new healthy resolution, maybe committing to put worry aside is a resolution to adopt.

11.12.19

Love

Scripture provides us great wisdom. So often the commands are so simple, so basic, and still so difficult.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-39)

And yet we insult one another, we hate, we take advantage of others, we love ourselves, but hate our neighbor.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” C.S. Lewis

Love one another as we are commanded and change your home, neighborhood, church, workplace…

11.12.19

What has happened to civility?

Before we had social media, “we” would discuss our differences face-to-face.  Today we post memes that struggle to include a scintilla of truth.  These short, and often vacuous, posts are more likely than not to be loaded with inflammatory language, sure to raise the ire of those who hold another view.

This isn’t debate – it’s at best cowardly.  At worst, you (right or left) are being used as an unpaid foot soldier by the political party and the wealthy to promote their message on social media.  Every share from some “independent” webpage is one more advertisement that didn’t cost them so much as a penny.

cropped-img_0009.jpgWhat is perhaps even more of a concern is that while we (the electorate) are busy attacking each other, we are distracted from the real problem: A bloated, out of control government that doesn’t reflect the limited Republic that Benjamin Franklin warned us about maintaining.

I am very concerned about the “state of politics” in the world today.  I am very concerned about loss of freedom, a federal government that is more in touch with Wall Street and the elitist than they are with “we the people.” But these emotional jabs, which lack any substance that friends are taking at one another, don’t further the cause of the country.  In my opinion, they only cause further division.

Perhaps we would all do well to meet in the town square, local coffee shop, or tavern and engage in respectful debate … face-to-face.

Tinkering in America

Observing the unique American life in his book, On Paradise Drive, author David Brooks says, “In America we have space-saving pop-up disk racks, prewaxed home dusters, turkey-and bacon-flavored dog biscuits, and self-propelled vacuums…built-in compass cuff links, and antibacterial toothbrush purifiers.  Behind each of these ingenious and highly unnecessary items there is some inventor, some tinkerer, some junior Thomas Edison dreaming of his patent-protected millions and his contribution to humanity.”

Brooks was echoing what Italian journalist, Luigi Barzini (1908-1984) said in the middle part of the last century.  Barzina said that upon arriving in the United States that he was struck with “our compulsion to tirelessly tinker, improve everything and everybody, never leave anything alone.”

Our nation has long been a collection of dreamers and tinkerers, optimists, and tireless workers.  Compared to our European counterparts, we work longer hours, get less vacation, and even when we are on vacation we are constantly monitoring our emails and responding to those important queries.  We just can’t leave work behind.  And regardless of pleas to work less and relax more…we’re not changing.  We are who we are; we are a nation that believes we can fix it – whatever it is.

We will fix the car, the bike, the company, the economy…it’s in our eclectic, mongrel DNA…but we should be careful that we don’t scrub this tinkering DNA out of our future generations.  Parents need to allow children to struggle, tinker, and find their own solutions.  And just as a child’s discovery of their God-given talents can be thwarted by well-meaning parents who don’t allow them to struggle, easy government handout programs for every malady or misfortune can also be an impediment to discovery.

So in the spirit of Luigi Barzina, tinker in your garage, tinker with your craft, tinker with some writing, tinker with other volunteers to find solutions, tinker with that new business idea, tinker and be satisfied that in the end, you may not find a solution but what you may find is your thought process is expanding…and then…who knows you may find some real “luck” and tinker yourself into some good old fashion, well-earned success.

Getting to “Did”

I want to learn more, have better relationships, exercise more, make a real difference, travel there.

I will start a new business, finish that book, volunteer to help, address that issue in my life.

I did it.

We all “want.” Some will even commit to “I will.” But getting to “did”…that’s work! But it’s also where we satisfy the longing of our souls.

Measure twice and cut once…but by all means cut!

Measuring is the easy part today.

How many times has someone visited your website?   You can find that easily, along with what time they visited, their geographic location, and what key words are performing best.

Which pages did they visit?  You can measure that and how long they were there.

How did they find your information, did they forward it, did they like you?  All quantifiable.

Who are your top performing employees?  Who are your most profitable clients?  What service or product gives you the best ROI?  It’s just a couple of clicks away.  If it can be imagined, it can be measured – relatively easily.   Hard, quantitative data can be provided and presented that leaves no ambiguity.

But the hard part has not changed:  What are you going to do about it?

Getting to Solutions

Consensus is relatively easy to attain, especially if you are particularly persuasive or you are the boss with predetermined answers.

It’s more difficult to get legitimate dissent based on a well-reasoned argument.

And it’s a rarity to get to solutions…requiring your personal commitment, not just committing others.  Of course, this is where “things” really begin to happen.