Give Me Liberty, Immigrants, Cripples, and Jesus!

Give Me Liberty, Immigrants, Cripples, and Jesus!

What you believe about the Statue of Liberty, immigration, disability, and our current US administration tells me everything I need to know about how you feel about Jesus and how you feel about me.

There has been a recent change to the immigration policy in the United States. It states that whether a person is admissible to the United States or not will be based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The expressed goal is “to ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States — either temporarily or permanently — are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations rather than on public resources.” 

Great, right?! Except how can you know? Beyond the obvious discrimination of people with disabilities like me, many of whom are fleeing violence, etc., it could be YOU at any time. Becoming disabled can and does happen at ANYONE. Further, if you live long enough you will almost certainly become disabled. Bodies don’t last forever without breaking down.

So, what does this mean? Unless you are super rich and elite, keep out? That’s sure what it seems like. What about Medicare? If you enter the country at a younger age and never need any public assistance, something you cannot know unless you are super rich, will you be eligible later in life? Does this exclude someone from coming to this country too? It’s a moving target.

Quite simply, we are moving toward eugenics. This should scare you into action! 

I know it won’t. I’ve been around nondisabled people long enough to know how little they think beyond their immediate concerns. You just don’t see yourself as me.

This is why we have a long history of locking away our disabled and elderly people. If you don’t see them, you don’t have to believe you will be them. You are wrong!

Speaking of long history, our current US administration recently stated that the words on the Statue of Liberty were for immigrants coming from Europe too.

I know, racism, shocking… Except, you should be shocked! You should be shocked into action against this administration and its policies. You have a voice. Use it!

worms eye view photography of statue of liberty
Photo by Jamie McInall on Pexels.com

Read more on both these things here or just look at the news or use a search engine. If you are uniformed or unshocked, you may be the problem.

Furthermore, any notion that you can support this administration while calling yourself Christian or pro-life is a farce.

(Admittedly, I’m afraid to make this connection not because it is untrue, but because some have used this as justification to say the Church should be charged with charity, healthcare, and supports instead of the government.)

Frankly, you are not just wrong, the Church is pretty bad at these things. Feel free to ask me about accessibility.

That’s just it. These people claim to be Christians yet the sit in direct opposition to Jesus.

In case you haven’t looked in a while, he takes the powerful in this world and turns them, and their systems, upside down. I mean, Jesus literally tells the rich guy to sell all his stuff and give it to the poor. (Matthew 19:21-22)

Look at the Beattitudes (Matthew 5:1-11)

For Christ’s Sake (Literally) The first Christians lived as a commune. (Acts 2:44-47)

Maybe that’s why the Church is dying.

As for the rest of it, what you believe about the Statue of Liberty, immigration, disability, and our current US administration tells me everything I need to know.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

It also seeks justice and inclusion for the people on the margins; even those least like you. Jesus talks about that too.

I’ll let you look it up if you don’t believe me because, “Carry your own weight,” right?

Peace Love and Acceptance

Notes: 1. Uscis.gov, 2. USA Today – 8/13/2019, 3. Biblegateway.com

 

 

 

Racism Is Not a Disability

Racism Is Not a Disability

Today, I went to Canada for lunch because I didn’t want to worry about getting shot.

Sure, I live near the border but, America, we have a problem.

The problem: Racist White Extremists with Guns. 

Here’s what the problem is not: Mental Illness. 

I know. I can hear all the arguments now. “No ‘sane person’ would do this.” This thinking just allows us to dismiss our responsibility.

If the perpetrator doesn’t look like me, I don’t have to do anything, right? Except, these men, look exactly like me. They are white men.

That’s what’s scary. These men could be my brothers.

Ask yourself, “If these incidents were carried out by people of color, How long would it be before we took their guns away?” Yet, here we are, nothing.

Because, if I can convince myself someone like me wouldn’t do something like this, I absolve myself of responsibility. 

I’m not saying you don’t feel bad. I see all the offers of thoughts and prayers. I believe them sincere. I’m with you.

Just don’t be so quick to move on.

Look at the real problem of white male racism.

It’s not difficult to identify. These men have told you as much in their manifestos.

But, putting the blame on mental illness is easier. We throw words like “insane” and “crazy” around so much, they no longer mean anything.

That’s crazy or insane has too easily become our default language.

I do it too. I’m no saint. Let’s all try to do better.

I’ve too quickly offered, “I didn’t mean it that way,” as an excuse in the past. Only, that’s exactly how this happens.

Our word choices and terminology matter.

Instead of crazy or insane use unbelievable, extraordinary, or whatever it is you actually mean.

For example, “Our problem is Racism and White Extremists with Guns.”

White racism and guns are not disabilities.

68419621_1072547582950305_2270396102953926656_n
Picnic table with Old Smoke Burger Restaurant Hamburger in wrapper with soda, french fries and a lager beer bottle next to a cup filled with beer.

Think about it. When I wanted to feel safe, I went to Canada.

Save me a trip.

Save some lives.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

To be clear it also works for justice.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deep Scarcity of Love

The Deep Scarcity of Love

My Dream of Love
I dream of progress elsewhere, beyond what is easily seen by today’s eyes, where peace reigns, and gentleness grows as true in practice as it is in spirit.

I dream of life eternal, where love does not dim but, is transformed complete.

I dream,
I hope,
I am.

Love Wins Wheelchair with Stole

It’s difficult to believe in love some days.

Look around.

Hate seems to be winning.

Truth seems to be relative.

Hope is in short supply.

Ironically, that’s when you need hope, truth, and love the most; when they seem so scarce.

That sums up where we are right now.

There’s a deep scarcity of love.

Racism, attacks on women, children, and the disabled. People facing hate and exclusion for whom they love.

We live in scary and dangerous times.

It seems overwhelming.

Yet, I can’t hide from it and neither should you. Being idle only helps perpetuate systemic injustice.

We have a responsibility to participate with love even knowing we won’t complete its task.

Human brokenness comes with a propensity to place one life over another.

Still, we have an obligation to work toward, love, inclusion, and justice for all people.

This is our command to love God and neighbor.

God’s work is about justice and God uses imperfect people to do it.

This is a timeless truth in which I find hope.

There are people just like you and me working to bring restoration in the name of love. We are not alone.

Likewise, we can do the same.

We don’t need love’s transformation to be complete to transformers here and now.

As I’ve heard it said, “God doesn’t call the perfect. He perfects the called.”

God has called plenty of imperfect people to participate in love’s mission.

Just look at me.

I’m as imperfect as they come yet I’m called nevertheless just as the many imperfect people before me were called.

The world needs it.

The world needs you.

Right now.

How will you bring transformational Love today?

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

 

Can I Cage My Neighbor’s Daughter?

Can I Cage My Neighbor’s Daughter?

The believer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told this story.

A brown skinned man was sitting in front of his house when ICE appeared.

He was grabbed, separated from his family, put in overcrowded cages with unlivable conditions, and left. His wife and daughter were separated, likewise.

His young daughter was forced to sleep on concrete. Wondering, what no child should ever wonder, “Where are my parents?”

She cried out to God, “Please help me!”

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A prosperity gospel believer heard about this. But, he had to envision a better life for himself. He’d like to help. Maybe someday he would. He just couldn’t today.

A pro-life believer heard this news too. But, he had to be consistent with his beliefs.

“I have to defend the defenseless,” he thought. Once moral order is restored, surely, everyone will be ok. All they need to do is wake up and understand like he does.

So, he did what he always did because he knew best.

An orderly believer heard this news too. Surely, he would do something. He found these conditions most unacceptable. He even wanted to help.

“Still,” he thought, “There are good and bad people on both sides.”

He was taught to follow the rules; to work with people. He loved everyone.

So, he waited for the right time. Maybe others will see a better way in his example and change. It isn’t complacency, it is quiet witness.

Finally, there was one last person who heard these things too. A skeptic at best, an atheist at worst.

He wasn’t as together as the first three folks. He was sort of unkempt. He was brash and often joked with his friends, “If I came into church, the walls would fall down.”

Yet, he knew he couldn’t be quiet. People are dying!

He had a young daughter. He wept openly whenever he thought of her alone should he ever feel the need to flee whatever issues were so untenable. Things he couldn’t know or imagine about these other people’s lives but that didn’t matter so much when he looked into her eyes.

He just saw images of scared, abused, people. He saw children. Children like his daughter. So, he did what he could.

He spoke up. 
He refused to be complicit by his silence.
He even protested at great personal risk. 

Mostly, he vowed to fight for change with his voice, his vote, and his actions.

He’d do whatever it takes to stop these things and make sure they never happen again as long as he could help it.

Whatever his actions did or didn’t accomplish, ultimately, he’d do everything he could to protect, defend, and treat others as he would want to be treated.

“Which person do you think followed my commandment above all others to love God and neighbor?” Jesus asked, “Which person do you think followed me?”

“Go and do likewise.”

Love Always Includes Justice. 

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Note: This story is based on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37.

Backlash!

Backlash!

“Fortune”
A Fortune of money is what you seek but a fortunate son is not someone like me.
A broken body, down on my luck, while you’re perched on top out of touch.
Running the business,
It’s always the same,
Making a fortune because you own the game

Heart with People

There’s always backlash.

Whenever an existing power structure feels threatened, you get backlash.

We see it in our world and, not surprisingly, we see it in the church.

It can be civil rights. It can be women. It can be the LGBTQIA+ community. Disability pride. It doesn’t matter.

In fact, it’s all of these things.

Wherever someone seeks equity and inclusion, you get backlash.

As we also often witness, you get cross sectional power players working together too. Think for a moment about how the powerful never seem to clamor for separation of church and state when they are colluding.

The power players all want to be in cahoots then.

It’s only when equity comes into play, such as when the church desired exclusion from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), do power players scream.

There are numerous examples here. Disability is my primary marginalizing experience but, it’s no different with regard to the other people mentioned initially.

You don’t have to go very far to notice the powerful orchestrating together.

I could name names, however, I suspect I don’t have to if you’ve read this far. They’ll even use us as tokens if we’re not careful.

Most of us won’t do this, of course, but it does happen and it only takes a couple for it to become some insulating justification for those in control. However, there is a better way forward.

When working within the existing power structure doesn’t work, and I believe that time is now, the rest of us need to build together too.

I’ve seen some of this, though, not nearly enough. In many cases, I’ve witnessed the opposite with divisions and factions.

The powerful know this and they’re happy to let it continue and even encourage it. If we minimize each other, they can continue their dominance over all of us.

We need to work across communities as allies for each other.

We need to lift up advocates in each their respective areas.

Whenever possible, we need to empower voices of those who are intersectionally marginalized. (Those who face more than one marginalizing identifier.)

I say this because I do believe you can be marginalized by one trait (as I am with my disability) while also being privileged in other ways (as I am as a white man.)

Yes, there will be times for me to speak. There will also be times for me to yield the floor.

There is time for both and too many times for all of us as it is today.

That’s the backlash to seeking equity. The truly powerful, the ones dominating our world today, will not go easily, quietly, or willingly. That’s where we are.

It’s also why it’s important for us to work together, building each other up. Because, they don’t have to tear us down if we do it for them.

Next time, I’ll look at how Jesus and his early disciples resisted the powerful in their time.

I hope you’ll check back because I believe this is an important lesson for us no matter if you believe exactly as I do or not. Solidarity.

Wherever you find yourself this day, thanks for journeying with me and remember in the world of Justice and Love, Love Accepts You No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

Hypocrites and the Law of Love

Hypocrites and the Law of Love

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5

A lot of self-righteous people are going around these days telling others what they should or shouldn’t be doing. In some cases, these hypocrites have legislative power which can be a very dangerous thing.

Moreover, the hypocritical legislators can be swayed by other hypocrites too. Watch out when that happens because, as much as I hate this type reasoning, it happens from both sides. I feel this keenly as a disabled person.

We witness this in many ways.

Reproductive rights, exclusion from full participation whether in church or society, healthcare, straw bans, the list seems endless. I am going to explore each of these areas in my next several posts.

(Shameless Plug: I write every Monday and Thursday.)

But, rather than dwell on any one of these topics today, I want to offer for consideration what I believe is the best way forward no matter the subject at hand. My hope is that this will provide our basis for deeper discussion in these sensitive areas.

Note: Please chime in. I already know what I think. Be open. Be respectful. Listen and I will too.

Anyway, here it is, though, if you’ve read any of my other posts this won’t come as a great shock.

(If you haven’t that’s ok. I still love you. Shameless plug #2, please start reading, comment, and share. See: I already know what I think.)

Love always expands the circle. Love is inclusive. Love seeks justice and equality. Most of all, Love meets you where you are, knows one size doesn’t fit all, and Love love’s you just as you are even when you fall short.

I think of my experience with my daughter, Hope, and each of us are far from perfect. From the moment I held her, I knew nothing could ever stop me from loving her no matter what. She could kill me and, even though whatever pain she projected onto me would bring me great sadness, I would still love her.

Love just is. Love lives beyond what can be easily understood in our humanity. When I, as a Jesus follower ask, “What would Jesus do?” I’m really trying to discern, “What would Love do?”

Love is true, no matter what you believe or don’t believe as a matter of faith, even when the answers aren’t so easy. Perhaps that’s why we’re told Jesus said, “Love is greater than any of the other rules.” (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28)

Love is a good starting point even for old hypocrites like me. Let’s try it.

Tell me, what do you think?

Let me know if you have other discussion topics too. As long as you’re willing to respectfully participate, I’m willing to discuss. There is no shortage of questions. Who knows? Call me an optimist but maybe the answers can be found in our sharing together.

Wherever you are this day, thanks for joining me in reflection on these words of love as we share this part of our journey together and remember, wherever you find yourself, in the realm of justice and love,

“Love accepts you, no exceptions.”

Peace Love and Acceptance

If You See Me: A Poem and Reflection

In my previous blog post, Bob and the Pharisees, I reimaged the biblical narrative in John 9 so we might focus on a better, more inclusive story for all of us. This post was inspired by my own disabilities and the voices of my sisters and brothers, especially those in the LGBTQIA community, since the exclusionary decisions of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church in February 2019.

Below is a poem and a few questions to ask yourself based on these same events and experiences.

This week, as you reflect, please join me in asking,

  1. Who am I overlooking?

  2. What’s one measure I can take this week in working toward a better, more inclusive world for all people including those who find themselves on the margins of society?

Think of the power of doing just one thing brought about by these two simple questions. Powerful enough on its own. But, all our actions, joined together, could start a love revolution.

This is life as Jesus intended! So, spread the word and remember, “No matter what, when it comes to justice oriented inclusion, love accepts, no exceptions.”

This love includes you!

Pharisees

Poem: If You See Me.

It’s not my eyes but it is my legs.

If you see me

Think the one who begs

But not in the most biblical way

More like a prophet

With something to say

To be let in

One and all

That you include

The great and small

Just be the church

Who knowing the least

Remembers and shares with those like me

But more than me

Know everyone

And in this way

Reflect God’s Love

Peace Love and Acceptance