I asked ChatGPT to write a poem about being “Woke.” It came out better than I expected. It’s another reason to like this new AI technology and the perfect response to those who would discourage others from caring deeply about social issues.
“Being woke is a state of mind, Where truth and justice we hope to find. It’s a path to consciousness and light, Where prejudices and biases take flight.
With eyes wide open, we see the truth, The struggles and hardships of those who were deemed uncouth. We stand for the marginalized, for their rights to be heard, And strive for a world where love and equality are revered.
Being woke is more than just a trend, It’s a call to action and a commitment we tend. To make the world a better place, with love and respect, Where every person, no matter their race, is truly accepted.
So let us rise, and never rest, In this quest for justice, love and success. For being woke is not a destination, It’s a journey towards a world of peace and liberation.”
I’ve been reading The 1619 Project. It’s an enlightening book. The author describes plantations as work camps. I’ve never thought of Monticello, Mount Vernon and the like in the same light as Ravensbruck and Birkenau but they were. Enslaved African Americans were forced to work, brutally treated and in many cases killed to keep them towing the line. They were bred like livestock and treated the same or worse.
I learned in school that Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation but it took the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendment to codify that into United States law. A new era emerged after the Civil War until the the end of the Reconstruction era when federal troops were withdrawn from the southern states. Then all hell broke loose as vigilante rule took over and Blacks and other people of color were systematically subjugated. Voter suppression and intimidation was the norm. Four thousand blacks were lynched between 1880 and 1940. Teenage Emmet Till was brutally murdered in 1955 for smiling at a white woman. People of color really weren’t free until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1965.
Native Americans were forced off their lands and put on reservations. Schools were created to forcibly destroy their culture and they the original owners of the Americas were not granted the right to vote in the United States until 1925. Following World War 2 white American servicemen and women qualified for the GI Bill which helped many including my father to attend college and pursue professional lives. The GI Bill was denied to soldiers of color. There is so much that is not understood by whites about people of color and how our society is not color blind at all. Our lives as white people is skewed to benefit us while disenfranchising our brothers and sisters who are darker.
I don’t like the term racist as there is no such thing as race. It is a social construct that was created to justify the repression of people of color. We are all the same race, the human race. Paradoxically we are all prejudiced. It is normal and natural to feel more at home with those that look like us.
I know I’m prejudiced. I don’t want to be prejudiced but I am. I work to overcome that on a daily basis. What’s most distressing in this country is that we have systemic prejudice that many fail to recognize and accept. Many of our presidents owned slaves. When our founding documents were written in the 18th century Black people were enslaved, Native Americans had their land stolen and were routinely murdered.
We have a lot of work ahead of us to truly become the United States of America.
Acceptance is the key to life. Those who cannot change cannot survive. Those who can wear masks and get vaccinated are likely to flourish in our new environment. As I sat watching a basketball game at St. Bonaventure University’s Reilly Center I was surrounded by people. Young and old alike. Some wore masks as requested by the university to keep us all safe while others were wearing chin straps or at least that’s what they looked like. Last week parents in Franklinville had an impromptu protest in front of the school that was anti-mask.
Everyday we read the news of angry folks decrying mask and vaccine requests and mandates. We read too of those whose inflexible reaction has cost them their health and in some cases their lives. Wearing a mask is annoying especially when one has hearing aids and glasses too. I’ve been contemplating a response and today I’m reminded of the wisdom of the Tao that was written twenty-five-hundred years ago.
The living are soft and supple;the dead are rigid and stiff.In life, plants are flexible and tender;in death, they are brittle and dry.Stiffness is thus a companion of death;flexibility a companion of life.An army that cannot yield will be defeated.A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind.The hard and stiff will be broken.The soft and supple will prevail.
“How do you tell your all-white mother that your all-white “friends” just dragged you into their big all-white house in all-white Southampton, past an untouchable all-white room, just to corner you and call you the dirtiest thing in their all-white world? Nigger.”
— The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey https://a.co/4I4AaQ6
I’ve long been a fan of Mariah Carey. I remember I was driving home from graduate school when I first heard “Vision of Love” on one of the local radio stations. There was a unique quality to her voice and reading this book about her life has that same spark. She is a great communicator. The book provides evidence of the ever present racism that pervades our culture even today. The debate in our nation rages over how to honor our past without glorifying the scourge of racism and misogyny.
Recently there has been discussion of removing the statue of Thomas Jefferson from the legislative chamber of New York City. Does the removal of the statue solve the problem. How about saving the statue but sharing the history of Jefferson and others who raped their slave mistresses and fathered children whom they also enslaved?
Our one dollar, two dollar and twenty dollar bills bear the images of men who supported the institution of slavery. Both Jefferson and Washington had biracial children. There is no evidence of Jackson fathering any children with his slaves but he was a slave master nonetheless. Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that we are a less than perfect nation?
Can we get past the meanness of our past and provide some real meaning for our future? Can we heal the wounds of racism by acknowledging their presence in our present and past?
Excellent book with lots of keen insights and interviews with individuals involved in presidential politics in the past five years. The book confirmed for me the grave danger our republic is in from the forces of evil that have come to dominate the Republican party in the United States. I wasn’t initially in favor of a Joe Biden presidency. I didn’t think he was progressive enough to lead the country forward. Now, however after seeing him in action of the past nine months and learning much more about his history and character through this book I am convinced that he is the right person for the job.
Yesterday I received an email from a sibling urging me to pray that Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services be defeated because he’s pro-choice. My correspondent wrote of course that he’s pro-abortion which is not true. I’m tired of these either/or evangelicals who are merely pro-birth and not truly pro-life. Life is both/and and much more complex than the binary choices these folks espouse. I pray everyday for an end to bigotry and hatred based on skin color, sexual orientation, religion or no religion at all. I hope Xavier Becerra is confirmed and that he leads us to better health and human services.
We can no longer exploit the resources of this earth—the trees, the water, and other natural resources—without any care for coming generations. Common sense tells us that unless we change, we won’t survive. This Earth Day let’s resolve to live in harmony with nature.
Maybe this pandemic has a silver lining. Maybe it forces us to realize that we can’t continue to exploit the planet. Our existential crisis has to be a point of reflection for all of us. The age of fossil fuels must end but that’s not all that we need to change. What must we change and how must we live are no longer ideals they have become essential questions.
“Jesus called his disciples to create a new transformed Earth, a kindom of equality and inclusivity, where all men and women could live together in justice, mercy, and peace. His consciousness of the whole evoked a genuine revolution in cosmic and social relations.”
— A Hunger for Wholeness: Soul, Space, and Transcendence by Ilia Delio, OSF
Contrast this spirit with what we are witnessing around us each day as those on the margins suffer most from the Covid-19 pandemic. This is just one more example of why we don’t deserve to be called a Christian nation or even a moral nation. To their credit many of our states and nation’s governors are doing their best to bridge the gap. Nonetheless folks are falling through the cracks in a nation where money is valued more than people. The paycheck protection program is one more shining example of how our leaders bail out Wall Street and stick it to Main Street. The funding is already depleted. Contrast our own national priorities with those other nations around the globe who are putting their citizens first.
Some politicians are calling for the establishment of universal basic income for all citizens. Not surprisingly some say this would incentivize the less fortunate to stay home and not seek work. These politicians have lifetime pensions which are their own universal basic income and not the $2,000 dollars a month that’s being proposed but salary and benefits in excess of $174,000 per year.
We always have lots of money to bail out Wall Street or start another war but nothing for the poor souls in our midst. These are the folks who call themselves conservative and cloak their greed in patriotism and pseudo-religious trappings.
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
I just finished reading Ilia Delio’s book which I reviewed previously and there are a treasure trove of ideas and quotes in the book but one that stood out for me is the following.
“On the whole, I find that younger generations want to help make the world a better place. Many Gen Z-ers express a desire for a just and sustainable world and are concerned about world poverty and hunger. They have an inclination toward catholicity without realizing it, expressed for them as a desire for inclusive, ecological, and planetary life. These concerns are not necessarily driven by institutional religion but by an inner sense of belonging to a whole.”
— Birth of a Dancing Star: My Journey from Cradle Catholic to Cyborg Christian by Ilia Delio
Young people aren’t burdened by the tired old labels that boomers are. What concerns them is creation and the care of it. They’ve frequently been referred to as the nones because they have no religion but they do have this inner sense of belonging to the whole. They see the world as interdependent.