Have Mercy

I’ve been much more politically active the past couple weeks, despite my intention to withdrawal from the political energy in the USA currently.  I have had a difficult time merging my inner activist with my spiritual path because, let’s be honest, activism is not a peaceful or passive activity.

I had stopped sharing posts about the US President and had silenced my outspoken critiques of those who would seek to treat my country as a business transaction, with no compassion or concern for the needs of her people.  I didn’t stop keeping up on what is going on in my country, but I had stopped letting events dictate my mood and the message I was giving to the people who see my posts.

And, then, Charlottesville, VA happened.  The horrifying sight of modern day Nazis and their march of hate was something I simply could not be silent about.  For two weeks I have been pointing out the images of hate and suggesting that we make another choice – that we choose to fight our evil enemy with love.

That’s a tall order, I admit.  How does one look upon a situation like Charlottesville through the eyes of love? First, we love ourselves enough not to allow their hatred to make us respond with similar hate.  We control our emotions and our response and rise higher than those spewing hatred.

This does not mean that we are passive.  This does not mean that we are okay with the ideals being spread by Nazis and the KKK.  What it means is that when we respond, and we have, it is with confidence, clarity, and calm.  This response is only possible if we are living through love instead of through fear and hate as the white supremacist groups do.  

Through the lens of love and compassion it is easy to see that these groups are motivated by fear and that fear leads them to hate.  They have been spun up and lied to by fear-mongers who seek power and domination. Their fear is completely irrational and unsound and that makes it nearly impossible to reason with those caught up in this vortex of fear, hate, anger and untruth.  These folks are not connected with reality and that makes them quite dangerous and so our level of compassion must be tempered with our resolve to always advocate for peace, truth, and justice.  Compassion, here, allows us to see the reasons these groups hate, and then protect ourselves from falling in to the same irrational fear trap in which they are caught.

The given reason for their march at Charlottesville?  To protest the removal of a statue to a Confederate General… and to incite fear in those who oppose what the confederacy and the Nazis and the KKK have stood for.  You don’t need torches and guns to peacefully protest.  Period.  Those things were used to send a message of fear.  Full stop.

As for the statues to confederate heroes – can we be honest?  These people gave up their allegiance and citizenship to the USA.  They created a new government which rose up with an army to fight against my country.  They killed American citizens.  And, they did so to protect their economy and way of life which was based on one thing and one thing only – the slave trade.

The confederates were traitors and terrorists.  They lost their war against the USA and in any other country in the world, the generals would have paid with their lives and their soldiers would have died in prison.  But, for the surviving confederates, they were blessed with mercy from Presidents Lincoln and Johnson.  The south was ruined financially and many lost their wealth and their lands, but they were gifted with their lives and the restoration of their U.S. citizenship.

Mercy was shown to betrayers, traitors and terrorists.  This act of mercy allowed a nation to heal.  It allowed us to forgive the transgressors, and, to quickly forget the anger and hate we felt towards those who sought to tear apart our country and keep our African brothers and sisters in chains.  Over time, these confederate leaders would become heroes to some.  Statues, parks, lakes, towns, schools and resorts in my home state are named after confederate generals.  My home state broke from the south to join the north and today there are confederate flags on 1 out of every 3 vehicles because mercy shown to the confederacy meant we would not hate or ban their images.

Mercy.  An act of compassion.  A gift of forgiveness.  A measure of kindness. 

Here is the problem.  There is one group of people we have failed to show mercy towards – the surviving slaves and their descendants.

Oh, sure – slavery was abolished, eventually.   And then what? What did we bestow in the way kindness and compassion upon the people we had been monsters to for so long?

Jobs?  Uh, no.  Many former slaves were forced to stay on the plantations where they had been prisoners because where else were they going to go to work or live?  And working conditions weren’t better on plantations for them because of any emancipation proclamation.

Constitutional rights?  Again, nope.  Blacks had to fight and die for the right to vote and be counted as a whole human being.

Education?  Segregated schools.  No blacks allowed colleges.

Freedom?  Whites only lunch counters.  Blacks to the back of the bus only.  Whites only water fountains.  No blacks allowed to purchase homes in certain neighborhoods.  High Rise densely packed housing.  We don’t hire blacks job listings.

Liberty and Justice?  Disproportionate prison sentences to white counterparts committing equal crimes.  The manipulation of drug and gun sales in black neighborhoods.  The lack of access to lawyers, juries of their peers, and equality in the system.  The lack of leaders and law makers on all levels of government.  The failure of school systems to hire black teachers or teach content applicable to the black experience and black history causing a disconnect between blacks and their sense of community and belonging.

Safety? Lynchings, cross burnings, church burnings, assassinations of their leaders and of white leaders who support their fight, and police brutality.  Police in the USA are still profiling and killing black people with no cause and getting away with it.  These statues that the Nazis and KKK are fighting to save – most were installed as a way to intimidate blacks during their fight for rights and to remind them of white dominance over blacks during slavery.  And the history of lack of access to medical treatment, blacks being used as lab rats (without their knowledge even!) and cities unwilling to ensure quality services to black neighborhoods. Hurricane Katrina New Orleans 2005 and the Detroit water situation in 2017 folks.  

The United States of American and her people have refused to show any measure of mercy to the Africans we kidnapped and enslaved or their descendants. In fact, we have done our best to build insurmountable blocks to every right we are privileged to behold.  Every ounce of freedom, liberty, and justice obtained by blacks has been fought for with their own lives. We have shown no mercy – in fact, we have done quite the opposite.

It’s time we show some mercy.  It’s time we stop saying that if confederate statues have to come down then so does the MLK memorial.  It’s time we stop saying blacks are animals after we built housing to force them to live like animals in cages and stripped all measure of dignity, hope and pride from them for generations.   It’s time we stop incarcerating black men while giving their white counterparts probation.  It’s time we stop bitching about giving equal rights to others because we falsely believe that somehow takes away our rights (cause all it takes away is our dominance).

It’s time we showed the same mercy for blacks that we showed to traitor confederates.  Take down the confederate statues.  Hire black teachers.  Allow black employees to wear their hair the way they want to wear their hair.  Get the history of the USA correct and include the contributions of blacks and atrocities of whites.

And apologize when hate groups like the Nazis and the KKK march with torches and guns to incite fear and their claim to dominance over others, because if you are white, then you helped build that by participating in the lack of kindness and lack of compassion and in the absence of mercy in which this country has behaved.  It’s time we gave mercy to those who deserve it.

Do it because you love yourself enough to be merciful to others.  Do it to erase the shame you feel over the atrocities committed in your name.   Do it because its right and just and it’s the way of a loving people.  Do it because it’s good for your soul.

Choose Love.  Have Mercy.

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