It’s hard to keep up

Lately it seems to be hard to keep up with all the…what shall we call it? Shenanigans, to pull a phrase out of the past. Or maybe BS. Or whatever.

There’s been a couple of school districts that have decided that banning certain books is a good idea. Not sure why though. The excuse is because he books have nudity and profanity I guess. Hmmm. A healthier way to deal with that might be to have a conversation. Besides, the books being banned are actually about far worse things than showing skin and cuss words – things like how cruel and merciless humanity can be to one another. That seems far worse than a few swear words. I’m having trouble keeping up with whether cancel culture is a good thing or not. I guess it just depends on who is yielding it as a weapon and against who.

I’m having trouble keeping up with all the hysteria at school board meetings. Are the people who go and scream and make fools of themselves their to actually make a point or is this their therapy session with a world in chaos? CRT, masks, vaccinations, oh my. It’s tough to keep track of all the things that one is supposed to be outraged over, even it isn’t actually taught in school or has nothing to do with freedom.

I’m having trouble keeping track of the latest thing I’m supposed to be outraged over outside of schools too. Is it M & M’s or Mini Mouse? I don’t know why companies changing the way their characters look is causing an outrage. Companies do that from time to time after all – this isn’t anything new. I wonder which children’s toy/candy we’re supposed to get upset about next week will be. Potato head already felt the rage of immature adults who don’t play with the toy. I’m having trouble keeping up with whether businesses can choose to sell what they want or not. It wasn’t so long ago that the outrage machine was upset over cakes and whether they should make them for gay couples or not. I guess it’s not really about whether a business does it’s thing or not, but if the outrage can assist in rallying some kind of base.

Mail in voting was struck down in PA. Apparently people like me are a threat for voting because, well, we vote by mail. Oh the horror! God forbid we make voting easier in a nation that claims to love freedom. I’m having trouble keeping up with whether we want people to vote or not, or maybe it’s only certain people.

I heard segments of a speech by the former president saying that he would pardon the people who participated in the Jan 6 insurrection. I’m having trouble keeping up. The story before was that this was a false flag operation and that people dressed up like the former president’s supporters and that it wasn’t an insurrection. Which story is it? Or doesn’t it really matter if there is any consistency when winning is all that matters, no matter how you win?

I’m having trouble keeping up with the spin around refusing to wear masks or get a vaccination. Are there tracking devices in it (seems like a poor way to track people when we all have smart phones), or are we proud that it was moved along so fast?

I’m having trouble keeping up with the vast conspiracy theories that circulate about COVID-19, vaccinations, elections, and more. Misinformation is popular for some reason. Maybe because we prefer things and information that matches our way of seeing the world, rather than actual reality. The peddlers of misinformation are more trusted by some than actual experts who know what they are talking about. But this shouldn’t be surprising, being a con man is an old profession.

I’m having trouble keeping up with abusive policies that are implemented while we all claim that abuse is wrong. The latest being that HUD is going to do in person inspections in homes of people who receive governmental support for their housing (I’m simplifying here). Are we supposed to limit contact with people due to COVID, or is harassing poor people in their homes a higher priority? I’m wondering when the CEO’s of corporations who receive government handouts will have their homes inspected to see what trouble those folks are getting into. Or do we just assume that because someone is in poverty that they must be doing something wrong, but the super rich aren’t. Sure, that makes sense.

I’m having trouble keeping up with Christians who not so long ago cried out that we needed to follow government instruction when it came to immigration because of Romans 13, but are silent now when it comes to government instruction related to getting a vaccination – apparently using Romans 13 only works when it is convenient for your own agenda. I’m sure God loves having God’s word used like a weapon for ideological purposes.

I’m having trouble keeping up with all the ends justifying the means rationale for actions and arguments. I’m having trouble keeping up with the might makes right philosophy. I’m having trouble keeping up with so much. Maybe as I age, I’m just a little tired of keeping up with such BS, excusing it, or ignoring it because I see how destructive it is for so many. And it’s unnecessary to its core.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once paraphrased Pastor Theodore Parker when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

I’ve struggled with King’s paraphrase for some time. And I haven’t had the words to express why.

But I read an article from 2018 about the paraphrase that I think offers a good explanation of what is wrong with the paraphrase, in spite of King’s good intent, and what the original quote was and what it meant. Take a read for yourself:

“In that sermon, Parker said: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”

“King’s single sentence is a more tightly wound rhetorical punch, easily deployed for immediate inspiration, but it carries the unintended effect of suggesting that justice is inevitable, so that no matter what we do now, the arc of the moral universe will care for us later. Parker’s sermon, however, forces us into a more active role. He starts by admitting that he does not “understand the moral universe,” which King’s more declarative statement elides. He is less sure of that universe’s contents and of where it may lead, since the “arc is a long one” and his eye “reaches but little ways.” Unable to “calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight” he is left to “divine it by conscience.” This could still be read as somewhat passive. Parker is not reaching out to bend the arc himself; rather, he is envisioning what it must look like through his own seemingly enlightened conscience. As an abolitionist and Christian, of course he is sure the arc bends toward justice, or else his work and faith must both be called into question. But his uncertainty about the moral universe is what makes his strong faith a necessity. For Parker, there is no guarantee, that he sees clearly, of the moral universe doing as he wishes. It is only through his own conscience, and thereby his own actions, that justice will be achieved.”


Parker’s quote and the explanation that goes with it hits the nail on the head.

When all these things that I list are going on and I can’t keep up, I don’t have the luxury of just wishing them away and thinking that it all works out hunky doory in the end without any action on the part of good people. Justice is not inevitable. Humanity is really good at doing injustice if left to it’s own devices. How many unjust and abusive systems have we created? How much suffering do we impose on others? How much selfishness can we possibly do at the expense of the community, all in the name of freedom, while not really understanding what freedom actually is? How much destruction will we continue to cause in the name of profit, nation, and ideology? How many people will we impoverish and keep in poverty? How many people have to die so that we can believe we are right?

Injustice seems to that take no effort to enforce and implement because it has been the norm of human existence. These things are expected and are not even shocking to us. They become “oh, great look at that.” It’s like we wait around for the proverbial shoe to drop. Some may say they are inevitable.

But here’s what I know, I think Parker was right. My faith leads me to that conclusion. Not because we’ll move towards justice naturally. Far from it. If we did, we’ll already have just and healthy systems. Instead, those of us that work for and push for justice in spite of the odds and the opposition will keep moving forward. And if those who work to maintain injustice strike us down, so be it. At the very least, it will be noted for all eternity that they failed in what they truly wanted – which was control over everyone else. By working for justice we are refusing to go along with injustice. We are making a statement for all eternity that the forces and people and system of injustice failed in getting compliance. They failed for all eternity. And their failure is permanent.

In that sense, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it is bent towards justice.

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