Tag Archives: racism

We Are Living In The Lord Of The Flies

12 Aug

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I was a sophomore in high school when I read William Golding’s novel “The Lord Of The Flies.” I hated it because it so accurately reflected the evil woven into human DNA. I was horrified and repulsed by the story. To me it wasn’t fiction because the author was revealing universal truths about humans’ propensity toward evil.

The plot depicts a group of British school boys marooned on an uninhabited island. The book takes place during an unspecified nuclear war and chronicles the boys’ immediate plummet into savage behavior and anarchy. Chaos and death ensue as the boys posture over who is in charge and how they are to have “fun”.

As I read accounts of white supremacists rallying in Virginia, I realize, we’re here. We’re living in the surreal reality that is the human condition. I am just as disturbed as I was when I was a sophomore in high school. Have we not learned anything from history or literature?

 

What is Freedom; What is Independence.

4 Jul

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For years I gauged independence and freedom on a continuum of relationship – how close was I in connection with others and what was the quality of those connections? The same question could be asked of humanity at large. Did relationships bring freedom or enslavement, liberty or injustice?

As a child, connections were solid in my world. That resulted in great inner freedom to develop and thrive. My world was safe and pleasurable. Reflecting that larger reality, I remember riding in a red wagon in an Independence parade in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, waving a flag at the crowds. I was five years old and away from home for the first time. My parents had put me on a plane, flying me all the way from California to Wisconsin to spend time with my relatives. My hair was in pig tails and I wore some form of red, white, and blue. I recall swatting at mosquitos during fireworks, eating hot dogs and hamburgers, and washing my hands that were sticky from orange, red, and purple popsicles. I was very young but I already had a sense of the right kind of autonomy.

As a teen though, nothing filled me deeper than the longing for freedom from what did not feel ideal: I wanted away from my father’s destructive authority, the entrapment of my mother’s drinking, and the tyranny and banality of high school social cliques. I also wanted freedom and abundance for the world. It sickened me that my classmates laughed when they saw pictures of children from the third world with distended bellies from hunger. Those same peers had driven to school in their BMWs and Porsches, yet had no real appreciation for their not-hard-won privilege and entitlement.

The world is not fair and the world is not free. We celebrate our independence from the British yet we enslaved African Americans and decimated the Native American Indians. We think we’ve moved way beyond those times yet human and sex trafficking turns a huge profit, as does racism and discrimination.

I often think of individuals who found freedom while being enslaved in some way, shape or form. I think of Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank, and Malala Yousafzai. They were/are individuals who found spiritual independence and connection with the world at large while in prison, hidden, or suffering violence.

We have little control really over the big factors of our external lives. We can’t pick what family we’re born into or our ethnic affiliation, or whether we come into the world rich or poor. We can’t control who will love and accept us and who won’t and whether we fit in or whether we don’t. We also can’t always choose if we’re single or married, or if we can bear children. The only real freedom lies in our relationship with God, as we best understand that entity. Freedom and independence come when we realize that in God we are whole, liberated, and eternally connected and accepted. Anything else is illusory, temporary, and ever changing. Likewise, the things we think will free us often do the opposite, if we are not right with ourselves and God. Freedom rings when we walk each step of life’s battlefields and glories hand and hand with the Maker.