The Republican Party is pretty sure it now has a plan to replace Obamacare that will please the contentious part of their party and might get approval of the House of Representatives. They are determined to fulfill their vow to “repeal and replace” Obamacare regardless of the cost. I almost wish they could succeed just so they could “get a life” and focus on the mundane concern of addressing the needs of our country! If their concern was other than some emotional petty vindictiveness toward President Obama…they still can’t get past the color of his skin…they could have taken the approach, “Hey, there are problems with Obamacare. Let’s address these problems, resolve them, and get on with our life.” But, that would never suffice for them as they have to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, regardless of the cost of the effort and the impact on the American public. This is what happens when ideologues dominate in a legislative body, they obsess with “ideas” rather than any actual “intent” that the ideas reflect. This is, of course, a normal stage in the development of a child, to take the “word” for the “thing,” but most of us mature and begin to see that there are others present in our world. AND, when adults are thinking and behaving like this, there is a “spiritual” issue on the table, meaning there are conflicts raging beneath the surface that are not being addressed. And, addressing these conflicts by bringing them to the light of the day is painful, so painful that most individuals as well as groups opt to not do so. It is much easier to just continue to seethe in the depths of their heart and take their rage out on someone or some other group. And, if you are driven by racism and other primitive demons, the task is made easier as you can take it out on a black former President. They are overlooking that President Obama has a life, and though he will be disappointed with what they are doing, he is not going to take it personally which is what they want. They hate that man, not realizing that hatred is devastating to those who harbor it as well as to anyone around them. But, lacking any self-awareness, they are missing this truth.
A white supremacist recent challenged a Washington D.C. Muslim lawyer, Qusim Rashid, “Why isn’t there a Christian Isis?” He was roundly rebuffed, with Rashid pointing out the violent history of Christianity with the Crusades, the genocide of Native Americans, and the brutal enslavement of African “heathens” to bring them Christ. The challenge to this Muslim demonstrated the lack of self-reflection present with many conservative Americans, not having any insight into how that what they see “out there” is usually right in the depths of their own heart. And I would add to Rashid’s answer the observation that in highly “sophisticated” American culture we have mastered the art of sublimation so that our violence is often camouflaged so it passes for the ordinary. And I think this is particularly so in all religions, including Christianity.
Violence is intrinsic to human nature and I think religion was given to us by the gods to facilitate an integration of the schism in our soul that leads to violence. But when a religious practice is limited to the cognitive/rational realm, the inner recesses of the heart are not even addressed meaning that often our religious practice can be intrinsically ugly and escape our carefully-crafted version of self-awareness. (For more on violence and the sacred, check out Rene Girard.)
For example, in this venue and others I have addressed the sublimated violence of fundamentalist Christianity where manipulation, intimidation, shame and social pressure are often one dimension of the Christian emphasis to “win souls to Jesus.” Just one illustration of this is the post-sermon altar call in which threats of hell-fire and damnation are de rigueur. The Jesus I believe in today was, and is, the Son of a loving God and does not need human artifice to woo anyone into his kingdom, especially little children. Little children who have “the hell scared of them” with fire and brimstone sermons are being subjected to systematic abuse and the cultural predominance of this violence will be effective in most instances. These little children will grow up under the tyranny of a “loving” god, knowing in the depths of their heart that to let any dimension of their belief system go will be to encounter the terror that was evoked in their youth by the manipulation and intimidation by their church. They will be “trapped” in their faith, not able in most instances to evolve spiritually and learn that God is not the beast they were presented with in youth.
And, of course, this ideological entrapment is obviously true also with the interlocutor of Mr. Rashid. The ideology and life-style of white supremacists is deeply etched in their hearts, often by fundamentalist religion, leaving them free to make accusations of others about spiritual darkness that predominates in their own heart. “Don’t believe everything you think,” I would remind them. But they can’t help believing what they think because, being trapped in a cognitive prison devoid of God’s grace, they cannot find the “space” to question their motives.
(For more on the Rashid interaction with the white supremicist, check out the following link–https://www.someecards.com/news/politics/white-supremacist-muslim-history/)
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Dave Chappelle offered a comedy skit years ago which is the best illustration of the lack of “self” awareness. He portrays a black man who is a white supremacist who has been kept from awareness of this “problem” by a KKK hood for decades. But when the hood comes off, and he has to admit that he is a “n…..r”, he still cannot lay aside his racism. (See hilarious clip at end.)
Disregard, hatred, and contempt of “the other” is deep-seated. It reveals itself in so many dimensions of life, usually without notice unless one has a very astutely discriminating eye. For example, I have become very aware how that in my spiritual tradition the insistence of drawing the distinction between “Christian” and “unchristian” is often just an effort to maintain the unconscious “us vs them” paradigm.
Sometimes I like to parody this phenomena with the following spiel: “I just hate people who are intolerant. I want to line ‘em up and shoot ‘em! I wanta humiliate them and then kill em!” This is relevant to present day with people who have an inordinate emphasis of setting boundaries with immigrants, wanting to deport them when at times it goes beyond the pale of basic human decency. Certainly immigration laws, boundaries, need to be present and need to be enforced. But it appears to be that the immigration issue has taken on a larger-than-life emphasis, has become a “cause celebre,” allowing people to vent their existential “us vs them” venom to be focused on this one issue. And, “us vs them” is an essential dimension of identity. But when one’s core identity is tenuous to begin with, he/she cannot tolerate the ambiguity of reality to recognize that the distinction between “us/them,” or “me/thee” is often not as clear as we would like to think.
This is a spiritual issue. But Protestant Christianity has emphasized “us vs them”, i.e. “saved vs unsaved” and failed to realize the inclusiveness/forgiveness that Christ brought into the world. This is best illustrated when Jesus chose not to stone the Samaritan prostitute at Jacob’s well, which the “Republicans” of the day were encouraging, instead telling her to “go and sin no more.”
Dave Chappelle clip: — http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3a3f0f