Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree But I Will Try to Listen

Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree But I Will Try to Listen

I hear a lot today about agreeing to disagree.

You know, “I see it this way. You see it that way. We’ll just agree to disagree.”

Sorry, I can’t do that. 

As my friend and great social-minded theologian, Samuel Mudge said recently,

“Agreeing to disagree doesn’t work for a whole lot of people because sometimes, two people are discussing something that is an abstract idea to one, and life-and-death to the other.”

Think about that for a second. I’ll use my most personal examples for clarity.

Not having access to plastic straws might kill me.

Doing away with healthcare protections might kill me.

Using mental health or other disabilities as your excuse because you don’t want to talk about guns or other issues might kill me.

That’s how it works.

The same is true when you endorse leaders who overtly or covertly use their power and systems as a means of oppression, exclusion, and hate.

They aren’t all created equal. People are dying! 

I will say this. We do need to listen to each other more.

I do believe most of us are not as far apart as it seems. Outside the top few, the people from the middle down are all being squeezed economically and otherwise.

Let’s work together to answer these more difficult questions. Maybe life isn’t supposed to be completely found in easy answers.

agree agreement ankreuzen arrangement
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’ve lost our ability to sit across from each other; to hear each other, and to listen to our individual and collective pain. 

This isn’t a suggestion of mere tolerance. I’ll fight as long as I can against racism, ableism, and any other form of oppression, exclusion, and hate.

Inclusion is a table of equity and justice especially for people on the margins. 

That’s what Jesus’ ministry is all about. He restored people to equitable, just community.

This isn’t an over-simplified version of love the sinner, hate the sin. 

That’s just a slight modification of agreeing to disagree with a dash of power mixed in. That’s what got us here.

It’s just a reminder to listen because the cycle will never stop if we don’t do better. 

I hope you’ll join me.

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

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Justice, Pain, Equity, and Sleep: A Cripple Convergence Story

Justice, Pain, Equity, and Sleep: A Cripple Convergence Story

“Justice”
Judge not.
But, what about justice?
Lord, will there be equity?
How long must we wait,
For heaven’s sake?
Watching others die,
Pain exchanged,
For personal gains.

Reveal your plans,
Here and now,
Let Love transformed,
Become the norm.
Just make it soon.
Can’t you see?
I’m dying too.

inside photography of church
Photo by Adrien Olichon on Pexels.com

Hey Y’all,

I planned to write something else today (and, have it up before now) but, I’m exhausted.

One of the most difficult aspects of chronic pain is that you never know what you’re going to get.

I know I’ve overworked my body recently, which isn’t saying much by nondisabled body standards frankly, but I’m feeling pretty bad. My entire body hurts.

If you are a praying sort, prayers are appreciated.

Positive thoughts are always welcome here. 

Another part of my struggle with chronic pain is what I call painsomnia.

Simply put, that’s insomnia caused by pain and, in case it isn’t clear by now, I don’t sleep much.

So, here I am.

Exhausted and typing for public consumption. There’s probably a law against this somewhere. If it’s in my bedroom, I’ll plead cripple ignorance.

Anyway, I digress…

I know many people have it worse. This is also a frustration of mine.

I think about these things at night while not sleeping.

We live in a world filled with injustice. 

Racism.

People exploiting others for their personal economic gain.

Outright hate.

There’s prejudice of all kinds for many people.

Maybe it’s always existed but it seems worse than in recent memory.

Meanwhile, overtly and covertly, those on top by virtue of privilege are still working to make more, pay less, and take more away from the rest of us. 

Look at healthcare.

The elite are in court right now working to take away the few remaining protections of the Affordable Care Act. (USA) Things like coverage for preexisting conditions.

Social Security and Medicare coming next.

(I feel like I’ve talked about this before, though, I’m too tired to look it up.) 

You don’t have to look too hard to find something happening that will hurt most of us in one way or another in exchange for profits. There are plenty of examples.

Some folks are just marginalized more than others.

That’s intentional. 

If they can keep the fighting focused on the fears of those who have little and those who have less, they win. Divide and conquer.

This strategy is working. They’re on top! 

The disparity between the top and the bottom is growing while the middle is shrinking.

Meanwhile, all I want to do is sleep. But, sleeping is what brought us here.

And, I get frustrated. I want justice now.

I know Love works toward justice.

I just wonder how many people will die waiting for change? 

I wonder, “Will it be me?”

That’s the thing about justice. Prayers are good. Action is better. 

One of the mantras I repeat most often is “God’s Love works most often through our own hands and hearts.”

God doesn’t need me but God can use me.

I’m reminded of Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

So, here I am.

I’m awake anyway.

How about you?

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

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.

My Wife is No Saint

My Wife is No Saint

“My Heart”
Beneath the surface my heart beats full with thoughts of you
In accepting me just as I am, my life was made anew
You didn’t change me, yet I did
Because love has a special way
Of growing something greater still
Each and everyday

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Today is my 10 year wedding anniversary.

On one hand, just like any man, I wonder how my wife puts up with me? On the other hand, she puts her pants on one leg at a time just like I do.

It’s true, I’m just a man. As I coined jokingly at church, “I’m just a man, she can’t expect much.”

Come on, guys, we all know women have the hardest job in relationships.

Her ability to keep going is amazing. Her resilience rivaled only by her heart. Heck, if I get the sniffles, I’ll claim to be dying in a whimpering voice.

You know what doesn’t enter into our relationship? My disability.

If my wife got a nickel for every time someone sainted her for being with me despite my disability, she’d have a lot of nickels!

Just last week, a neighbor approached her sympathetically telling her how difficult it must be to be with me. …The neighbor approached her.

My wife doesn’t seek sympathy just like I don’t seek the latest miracle cure.

This neighbor even closed their conversation, as my wife deflected this line of logic with, “Well, if you love somebody, I guess things don’t always seem so bad.”

I might be difficult to live with some days. But, again, that’s not disability related. On the contrary, we live remarkably ordinary married couple lives.

Yet, it happens again and again, the sad nods to my wife as others pass by.
(Don’t worry. These comments and gestures mostly go over my head, literally.)

That’s if they think we are together as a couple at all. Oftentimes, people assume she’s my caretaker. 

They’re stunned to find out I was married before. Not only that, I brought my now 12 year old daughter into our relationship.

So, here we are, 10 years in.

I love my wife and she loves me. We care for each other.

Not despite my disability, regardless of it.

Here’s to many more years regardless of the bodies in which we live. 
Peace Love and Acceptance

 

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