Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why So Much Anger Out There?

photo by Mikael Marguerie / flickr

As a minister I have been trying to figure out what I want to say about this election. My first response is just to run out the door screaming. But that won’t help me or the situation. In every place of worship there are folk on both sides of this political divide. And we, on one side, look across the chasm at other Americans on the other side. Many are relatives. We think to ourselves: How can they be so blind? Why can’t they see what we see?
Nicholas Kristof's recent articles

What’s obvious is that there are a lot of angry and unhappy people out there. Many Republicans and Democrats and the not sure fall under this angry umbrella. I scratch my head and wonder where all this rage is coming from?

It is evident that we have two very rich candidates running for President. This is no crime in itself. Looking at our history a great many of our Presidents were rich, white, aristocratic and male. And if they were not wealthy they made up for it after they left office. Despite all the gloom and doom talk a whole lot of us are doing quite well. 

Jesus warned us about riches saying that it would be easier for a rich man or woman to go through the eye of a needle than to enter the Kingdom of God. Why did Jesus seem to pick on the well-heeled and the prosperous?

The only answer I can come up with is not that Jesus wanted to particularly target the
photo by Adam Skowronski / flickr
wealthy. No. Many of his friends were people of means. I think then and now that many of us fortunate ones find ourselves in a bubble. We only talk to people like us. We don’t see those others at Hilton Head or the Country Club unless they serve us or mow our grass. I live in a very nice neighborhood. Took me a long time to get here—but here I am. My streets are clean and safe. We don’t have to worry about crime very much. I don't lose sleep wondering if some terrorist will march down my street and invade my territory. It isn’t a problem.

It would be easy to judge all those out there hurting by my middle-class standards. Why don’t they get a job, quit smoking so many cigarettes, cut down on the tattoos, pay their bills on time and quit relying on the government? That’s my bubble talk.

Outside my bubble there are almost 8 million that are jobless. The unemployment rate is down further than it has been in a decade. Yet too many are having a hard time making ends meet. This is why pay-day loan offices have popped up like mushrooms. Teachers in Title One schools tell me almost every child gets breakfast and lunch. Some take food home on Friday afternoon to have something to eat over the week-end. Many parents in poorer neighborhoods are terrified of drugs and the safety of their children. Some black folk say they have been stopped nine times by law officers in the last year. Policemen’s families wonder when their loved ones leave the house if they will come back home that night.

Outside my bubble there are women wearing burqas and habibs. They are scared to go to the mall alone these days. They don’t know what kind of situations they might encounter. Some tell me their kids ask: “Have they built the wall?” “Will we have to move?” “ They call me terrible names at school." Read Nicholas Kristof's timely article on the meanness today.

Outside the bubble there are vans driving up to college campuses and unloading young men and women. But so many young people will not be there. They don’t have the money or their grades were not that good. Their hope got ground out somewhere along the way.

Inside and outside the bubble we have to bring everyone along. No one should be left out. The dream really was: liberty and justice for all. Every one ought to have a chance not only to dream but also see promise out ahead.

Pitting one group against another is not the answer nor the American way. Pouring gasoline on the angers and fears of so many is dangerous business. Fearful, angry peopler make poor decisions.

I’m not going to tell you how to vote. That’s your business. But it is my business to move outside the bubble and see people very different than I am. And my hope is that whomever is elected—Congress and the White House will begin to tackle the hard task of helping us work together. And, if I’m not mistaken, it’s also our job to make it happen.

-- Diversity Quilt - Oregon Dept. of Transportation / flickr

(This article appeared in the Op Ed section of The Greenville News (SC), 8-27-16)

--Roger Lovette /

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