I want to thank you for your call last Friday. I so appreciate the tone of our dialogue and the very personable encounter. I believe that across the nation we are woefully lacking in the kind of dialogue you and I shared on Friday. We disagreed, and still do, yet the conversation was respectful and meaningful. Thank you for setting the tone for that dialogue.
Every Sunday, Hope Chapel provide coffee, warmth and shelter, a song and a preached word. The congregants don’t dress like we do at Park Road, and their eyes tell a completely different story.
I see despair and desperation in some of those eyes, abuse and neglect in others. Those eyes have seen things I’d rather not think about, and there is a haze of bone-weariness in many: weary of working and not making it, weary of not making it work. Weary of being looked down on, given up on, cast aside, left behind.
Given our state and national history with legalized discrimination, I simply cannot comprehend that any “representative of the people” would work to actively deny legal protections to all citizens. Legally denying services or failing to extend the benefits of our society to any group of people puts them at risk by implicitly denying their status as full citizens. Failing to protect any people from legalized discrimination will inevitably marginalize them further within our communities, and increase the likelihood they will become victims of emotional harm, if not physical violence. As our Governor, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all of us, as well as the right of equal access to all the benefits that are due to North Carolinians. Signing House Bill 2 fails that responsibility for a segment of our state’s population – and, therefore, it fails us all.
Our world seems aimed at perfection, beautiful people, beautiful things, more, bigger, better. A lot of what we strive for in life, hope for in our children, had eluded Albert. The intellect and the opportunity just weren’t in the hand he was dealt, but the unique presence Albert brought to our campus, the life he gave to this world would be misunderstood if we demeaned it as only “special.”
On the way to church one Sunday morning, my daughter said from the backseat:
“Daddy, can we see God?”
I had to consciously remind myself that she is five and that she did not want or need a theology lecture. Since I never know how to answer questions like this, I use a little trick cribbed from Socratic learning techniques:
“What do you think, sweetie?” I asked her back. “Do you think we can see God?”
Recently, as a matter of fact it was just yesterday morning at Caribou Coffee, when Russ and I were meeting with some recent visitors - a young couple with a young child – and they said, “We have a few questions for you.” I just love that. They had done their homework about us: visited, gone to the website, read a few blogs, and now they came with questions. Their leading question was so good: “Where do you see your church in the next 5-10 years?” What a great question. In the next 5-10 years, their son will be in middle school and then high school. We sat back in our chairs a bit to answer carefully.
“I like to talk to people, especially older people, about what life was like. Being 17 years old, I only know the world as it is and was during my childhood, which in the scope of the length of human lifespan isn’t very much. You don’t read about daily attitudes and social life in textbooks, what I like to think of as ‘anecdotal history.’ These are the stories and experiences that we can relate to but have no specific parallel in modern life. . .”
Why should we ever need to raise charitable funds to educate our children? To buy supplies and provide technology? Even to provide weekend snacks, if lack of nutrition is keeping a child from learning? We ought to want to educate our children, all of them.
It is the common good – even if we have to pay more in taxes to do it.
As 2016 begins I am praying – for a spirit of civility and common sense, for a vision of a future, together, for a sense of peace that must begin within the hearts of the American people. I’m praying because that 2015 year-in-review indicates that our brokenness is so deep and so complete, any real movement to peace will have to come from outside of us.