“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abe Lincoln’s words from his Inauguration in 1861. Fear of “the other” is the beginning of a domino effect that sustains the cycle. In many societies, fear may be temporarily triggered by color or race. However, it eventually is colorblind in that it makes us turn on even one’s own kind. Fear destroys us with a phantom imagination of normalized paranoia where Us becomes Them. Another President said: “...the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Words from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Inaugural address in 1933, said in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Morale was low and everything was bleak. Yet out of that bleakness shone a clear star of hope, a good epiphany. The effort needed to convert retreat into advance.
Have you noticed that the most common words of encouragement in scripture are “Do not be afraid” or “Fear not?” It’s a primal reality that we freeze, flee, or fight because of fear. As a nation, we are confused, afraid, and angry. All of us. Epiphany 2021 will go down in our nation’s history as a date that will live in infamy! It revealed a side of us that we are not proud of. Yet, it is a side that is a part of us. What is our way out of this loop of fear? If we can freeze, flee, or fight, then we can also unfreeze, stay, and even become curious. The immediate antidote for fear need not be love for the other. The needed antidote for fear may well be acceptance of oneself. It is the great baptismal affirmation, “You are God’s beloved.” You and everyone else!
This is not a moment for righteous anger, but of gentle concern for oneself from within. You are loved. It is oxygen mask time. Metaphorically, without oxygen for yourself, there can be no oxygen for your neighbor. In the words of Rigoberto Menchu, “If you are in a good place, then you can help others; but if you are not well; then go look for someone who is in a good place who can help you.” Let us get to a good place while we help somebody. Accountability can follow.
Therefore, on this day when we remember one of the greatest practitioners, the King of non-violence, who was in a good place, spiritually. I urge you to do the most nonviolent thing and say to yourself, “I am loved, and I am enough, just as I am. I have nothing to prove.” I close with words seldom heard of King written from the jail in Birmingham. “In deep disappointment, I have wept...but, be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” Let us weep deep tears of love and forgiveness for ourselves, our community, our church, our nation, and our world. Let us overcome our fears and let love be the final word for us and all who are around us.
We offer prayers of gratitude for President Trump and Vice President Pence and wish them Godspeed. We offer prayers for strength and wisdom to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris as they take on the reins of government. Personal thanks for all your prayers, cards, and comfort over the year since my Amma moved to Glory.
Last but not least "Go Bills!"