Peace on Earth

I was anguishing about the state of this world and how there is chaos and violence everywhere you look. I wished there was more that I could do. While I know that relationship building, reconciliation and peace making are crucial, they sometimes don’t feel like enough. Visible Unity had a Weekend for Peace recently that brought together diverse people to pray, sing, view and discuss film clips around racism and integrate a worship service. A song came to me and our diverse group of peace minded people joined together at a police station and prayed for peace and sang the lyrics of the song – ‘Let There Be Peace On Earth.’

Let there be peace on earth, And let it begin with me

Let There Be Peace on Earth, The peace that was meant to be

With God as our Father, Brothers all are we

Let me walk with my brother, In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me, Let this be the moment now

With ev’ry step I take, Let this be my solemn vow

To take each moment and live, Each moment in peace eternally

Let there be peace on earth, And let it begin with me

The peace that was meant to be, living in perfect harmony, and beginning with each one of us, should give us pause.  Not long after this, one of the board members of Visible Unity, Inc. sent me a link to a commentary on John 15:12-13 – ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. The commentator suggests four things from this passage. The Obligation, the Sufficiency, the Pattern, and the Motive of Christian love. (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/john/15-12.htm)

The Obligation – cherishing a kindly and loving regard to all others; such an attitude is the only fitting expression of the mutual relation of Christians, through their common relation to Jesus; However unlike any two Christian people are to each other in character, in culture, in circumstances, the bond that knits those who have the same relations to Jesus Christ one to another is far deeper, far more real, and ought to be far closer, than the bond that knits either of them to the men or women to whom they are likest in all these other respects.

I like this focus on the obligation of Christians because I feel if we can get this right, then we will have a head start in loving non-Christians. I also like this because I think Christians may be lagging more so than other faiths in loving their brothers and sisters. In Christ, we are all one family.

The Sufficiency – Love will soften the tones, will instinctively teach what we ought to be and do; will take the bitterness out of opposition and diversity, will make even rebuke, when needful, only a form of expressing itself. The ‘one thing needful’ was that they should be knit together as true participators of His life. Love was sufficient as their law and as their guide.

Love is sufficient. What else is there to say?

The Pattern – Now He says, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ There stand the three, as it were, the Father, the Son, the disciple. The Son in the midst receives and transmits the Father’s love to the disciple, and the disciple is to love his fellows, in some deep and august sense, as the Father loved the Son. Christ’s love nailed Him to the Cross, and led Him down from the throne, and shut for a time the gates of the glory behind Him. And He says, ‘That is your pattern!’ ‘If He had never died for His enemies’ says one of the old fathers, ‘He would never have possessed His friends.’ The way by which we are to meet even alienation and hostility is by pouring upon it the treasures of an unselfish, self-sacrificing affection which will conquer at the last.

Enemies are future friends when love is involved and seeks relationship. Christians, we have our model. Turn to Christ’s love and allow it to infuse you that you feel compelled, obligated and equipped to love others.

The Motive – The novelty of Christian morality lies here, that in its law there is a self-fulfilling force. We have not to look to one place for the knowledge of our duty, and somewhere else for the strength to do it, but both are given to us in the one thing, the gift of the dying Christ and His immortal love. And so, brethren, if we would know the blessedness and the sweetness of victory over these miserable, selfish hearts of ours, and to walk in the liberty of love, we can only get it by keeping close to Jesus Christ.

From this passage, we should be motivated to reach out in love to all of our brothers and sisters. LOVE IS THE WAY TO RECONCILIATION!!!  LOVE IS THE WAY TO RELATIONSHIP BUILDING!!!  LOVE IS THE WAY TO PEACE!!!  If you have the desire but are unsure of how, please contact me. I will be happy to discuss with you possible avenues of reaching out to those different from you.

Weekend for Peace

This past weekend Visible Unity, Inc. declared a ‘Weekend for Peace.’

Friday evening was ‘Prayers for Peace’ where we met at the Southwest Dallas Police Substation and engaged in prayer, singing and talking.  Seeking to be fortified as we begin or continue in the work of bringing peace into our spheres of influence.

Saturday afternoon we gathered at the Meadows Conference Center for the I/Eye Perspective.  We watched film clips from the movie, ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ and a clip of the self-introduction of ‘Tim Wise.’  We watched these clips with our eyes (Eye Perspective) and then had excellent discussion about race from each of our own personal perspectives (I).

Sunday morning (the most segregated hour) was the Integrated Hour of Worship, where a diverse group attended services at First United Methodist Church in downtown Dallas, Dr. Andy Stoker pastor.

We are in a war.  Yes, a war is going on in our country.  And with all wars people tend to forget that the enemy is also human and has family and friends who love them and who has hopes and dreams for the future.  People also tend to focus on destroying the other.  There is no desire to try and come together and talk things over.  Hate is the focus, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to kill.  Lastly, people tend to believe all the propaganda about the other side.  That they are not human, good or worthy.  They are a bane to society and so on.  This provides the ammunition needed to keep the war going.  It helps people to believe they are doing the right thing, the good and necessary thing.

In his sermon, Dr. Stoker remarked that we have a tendency to turn practice into truth.  I would add that in the history of the US, there has been a practice of devaluing people of color and this practice has turned into a truth.  A truth that has to be dismantled.  A truth that is founded upon ignorance and mainly, fear.  James Baldwin, when talking about the nature of the rage between Black and White, said that, ‘The root of the black man’s hatred is rage.  Blacks don’t hate whites.  It’s more rage; they just want them out of their way and more importantly, out of their children’s way.  The root of the white man’s hatred is terror.  A bottomless, unnameless terror which focuses on this dread figure and entity which lives only in his mind.’

The way past this terror and this unfounded truth is through relationships, relationships across cultures and divides, relationships across gender and economic divides, relationships across faiths.  Visible Unity can help you with this.  Contact us and join us in peace-building and relationship building.

 

 

Co-Dependent not Independent

For believers, independence should not be the goal. The definition of independent is ‘free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority or on another for livelihood or subsistence.’ No, we should strive for co-dependency; a word often used in psychological analysis around addiction. However, for true followers of Christ, it is appropriate. We depend upon the Triune God for our subsistence and our addiction is to Them alone. We also depend upon our fellow sojourners for support, accountability and to be brothers and sisters in the struggle together. We are not intended to be in this journey alone and to do ministry by ourselves. The entire body of believers are to work together regardless of race, age, gender, faith and any other things we use to divide ourselves and keep us from collectively working together for the kingdom.

I encourage you today, having just celebrated America’s Independence Day, to break from the individualism of the US and seek unity amongst as many diverse people that are in your midst. Seek out those different from you in your community and strive to build relationships; relationships of peace and unity. We have gotten off track. Let us move back towards the model of the Trinity; distinct yet equal, separate yet unified. If you need help getting started, give me a call or shoot me an email.

Blessings

Pam

Reproducing Racism

I was reading a book by Daria Roithmayr, Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage, and she equates the way white people have systematically oppressed people of color as a cartel.  Whites engaged in “cartel conduct” utilize “economic coercion, violence and harassment” to give whites an advantage.  In posing suggestions for a political and legal fix, she uses the example of the government saying Microsoft was a monopoly and needed to be split up so that fair competition can occur.  “Restoring competition in the operating systems market required significant and dramatic legal intervention, in order to eliminate the barrier to entry created by increasing returns.”  I would add that fair competition leads to greater diversity and creativity and benefits everyone.  When we don’t diversify, we don’t expand our thinking, actions or products; whether those products are tangible or intangible.  Roithmayr also recognizes that there needs to be work done in our social networks and interactions as well as more integration in a variety of ways.

My final thoughts about her work is something I will try to incorporate in the work I do.  She resets racial discrimination as anticompetitive and antidiscrimination as antitrust.

Anticompetitive – emphasis on the economic costs and historical benefits of racial discrimination

Antitrust – emphasis on the unfairness of white advantage

Let’s all do what we can in the areas we are in to level the field.                                          Blessings

Pam

Do Something

Benjamin Franklin said thatJustice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.’ This could apply not only to justice but also discrimination, racial targeting, and oppression. This past year and moving through the next four years, we will be seeing more and more unaffected people become outraged. For America, this is a bad time not only for all Americans but also for the world. However, we cannot afford to allow this time of grief, pain and sorrow to be in vain. We must take advantage during these times to regroup, re-gather and remobilize so that we can usher in healing, relationship building, renewed and comprehensive strategizing, and reenergized and informed mobilization. There are many groups, some already formed and some forming, already working in one or more of these areas.

Now is the time to get involved. Do something to truly make America great and to help make the world great. This is only possible with collective effort. Make sure your organization is talking with, partnering with and/or collaborating with other organizations. This is not a time for territorial/kingdom building fighting. Let’s all come together. If you are a philanthropist, give money to those organizations who are not working in silos, who realize ‘it takes a village’ or in this instance several communities.

God bless and see you in the trenches.

Pam

A Concerted Movement

As we prepare to brace for impact and then move forward in the next several years, I pray we can begin to develop a more concerted movement.  A concerted movement as opposed to individual groups and organizations doing a variety of things is preferable and will have more impact.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective “concerted” as meaning “arranged by mutual agreement; agreed upon, pre-arranged; planned, contrived; done in concert.” Let’s meet, talk, plan and then do.

  • As suggestions, I believe we need at least:
  • An Active front
  • A Peaceful Protest front
  • A Political front
  • A Relationship Building front
  • An Education front

No one front is more valuable or necessary than the other but collectively will yield a truly transformed society not merely just outward changes.  A truly transformed society will benefit everyone and our country will thrive and grow.

If you’re not involved in any of these fronts, I suggest you:

  • Figure out what fits best with your personality, skills and status
  • Know it will be challenging no matter which one you choose
  • Get off the sidelines, quit just praying and do the work you feel called to perform

Figure out what fits – Pray about it.  Also,  you will want to consult with those who know you personally and professionally.  They can help you assess personality, skills and especially status.  We often undervalue our status in relation to our ability to influence others and connect with others.

Know it will be challenging – We are not just talking about making things better, we are talking about transformation.  Transformation is a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. The processes for this to occur will necessarily be challenging and depending upon your previous experiences, the challenges will increase or decrease. You will want to surround yourself with a support system that will be encouraging, sympathetic, affirming and relentless in not allowing you to quit.

Get off the sidelines – Too many people (in particular religious people) hide behind their religious veil rather than being and doing. I am not saying that we don’t need people to be in prayer. We need more people earnestly praying now more than ever. However, your prayer needs to be coupled with work. Faith in action or as the title of a book suggests – Faith is a Verb[1] – is required. Pray about where you fit, who you fit with (which organization) and then start the work.

Visible Unity, Inc. (the organization I started) does relationship building and just a little bit of education.  Contact me if this is where you fit.  If you just want direction, support or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I am trying to connect with other organizations in the Dallas area working on a variety of these fronts.  I am already connected with several but any names of organizations, groups or churches you know of would be great.

Blessings

Pam

[1]Stokes, Kenneth, 1989