- “Great earthquakes in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs”
- “Betrayal both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends”
- “Signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring”
- “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy”
- “Be vigilant at all times…Strengthen the hands that are feeble; make firm the knees that are weak”
- “Stay awake!”
- In the halls of Congress where 99% of Republicans identify as Christian, only two could summon the moral courage to say that death threats against each other are problematic. That 99% includes the most publicly sanctimonious (Mitt Romney comes to mind) among them. In failing to censure their party comrades for tweeting a death threat against Representative Ocasio-Cortez, they managed to not only normalize race-rooted animosity but to Christianize it as well.
- In schoolhouses and school board meetings, enraged parents show up with zip ties to threaten violence against anyone who subjects their children to the tyranny of masks. Yet these freedom-loving activists seem to be less committed to protecting their children against gun violence. In fact, some of them cheerily hand over assault weapons to their adolescent offspring. It is no mere coincidence that overwhelmingly the offspring who have enacted serial violence against others have been white and male.
- A 17-year-old male shot two people to death. Strapped with an assault weapon, he traveled across state lines on a night mission to “keep peace and prevent the destruction of property” during a Black Lives Matter protest. His mother, perhaps in the throes of maternal protectiveness, justified his actions as necessary to prevent harm against himself. In an interview with NBC News, she said that without his semiautomatic rifle, her son would have been killed and that she would always “stay by him”. How noble. Too bad “staying by him” didn’t include protecting him from the racist influences (and influencers) that drove him into the streets that night. In fact, she seemed to believe that the whole tragedy was nothing more than a curfew violation. In the mother of all equivocations, she stated that “a lot of people shouldn’t have been there”.
- Wage workers trapped in a Kentucky candle factory lost their lives during a catastrophic weather event. One fatality was a woman working for extra hours so that she could buy Christmas presents for her grandchildren. Meanwhile, her senator claims “concerns about the national debt” to justify his refusal to support infrastructure spending to mitigate the devastating effects of a warming climate and a purposefully rickety social scaffolding (e.g., inadequate childcare, over-priced/inaccessible health care). He represents the culturally engrained notion that we cannot afford to care for the 90% of us who control only 30% of American wealth. In other words, abandonment of the non-rich functions as a stand-in for fiscal responsibility.
To claim our deep yearning for connection, we must willingly enter into what Cynthia Bourgeault calls creative anxiety: a new becoming not yet manifest, but redolent with clarity and strength. Unlike the fear-based anxiety emanating from a fractured and fracturing consciousness, this anxiety allows us to arise from our culturally entrained slumber and awaken to new possibilities. Bourgeault likes the term “Ur Sprung”, a springing forth not entirely apprehended through our prefrontal lobe. As abstract and amorphous as that term might sound, there are practices that allow us to embrace anti-racism (and other isms that make up the muck) as a becoming, not as a check-the-box strategy.
We can expand our capacity to take in “all that is”, not just the realities that fit into our little zones of comfort. We cannot take refuge in incredulity. Perhaps we can start by excising the utterance “unbelievable!” when confronted with some horrifying reality. School shootings are not “unbelievable” in 21st-century America. Yet we are more likely to see lawn signs that say, “Unmask our kids!!” than we are to see “Stop Gun Violence in our Schools!” (Right. Lawn signs don’t solve problems, so just sayin’…) It is not unbelievable that the Kentucky legislator did not have enough moral backbone to censure his Republican colleague for tweeting a death threat to Representative Ocasio-Cortez. It is also not “unbelievable that another legislator would tweet a family photo of every family member brandishing a long gun in front of the Christmas tree. It is totally believable that his caption read: “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo.”