On my 66th “trip around the sun”, also Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday- the following looms large in my mind.
For years and long before any talk of a border wall I added the following two phrases to my personal email signature:
-Build bridges not walls
–Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
It was right at 50 years ago I became quite active in what the social justice issues of the day were. Sadly and without surprise many of the same continue to deserve comment and -action- now.
If you look at my lyrics from Resurrection (REZ) Band, Glenn Kaiser Band or my solo projects you really should begin to notice how often from the very earliest recordings, that justice issues were core.
Sometimes folks seem shocked at what I post in social media or in various lyrics or hearing me speak as though I have somehow “become radicalized” or have “drunk the koolaide” of this or that group. That would be a mistake, because simply reading a wide range of American and world history from somewhere around my 12th birthday I recognized the horrors of inhumane treatment of people (especially minorities), colonization and despotic leaders, leaders of ALL sorts who were laced with character issues to the extent power, control, winning and -their own- prosperity and position were of utmost importance to them.
As an independent voter most of my lifetime, as one who reads a wide range of theology as well as news from ten and more sources daily, and as a serious and needy, imperfect follower of Jesus Christ I am well aware there are times to speak and times to be silent.
Mistakes (I/we have made and will make ’em) or not, in agreement or not, all of us walk in “the light” we have. One of the deep truths of Dr. King’s quote here is of course, the option is to remain in darkness. Darkness is not simply “what THOSE people believe”. It is, foundationally (as is the meaning of “prejudice”) ignorance.
Education that comes from reading the major positions as well as other views on any topic or issue, and for me, prayer, a constant threading of views through my best understanding of the nature of God, the character, teachings, commandments and indeed, love, grace and compassion of Jesus is what motivates me to act -and sometimes remain silent or act in many non-public yet fruitful ways.
What I cannot be is a person of integrity who sits and watches the parade- and I mean on either side of specific issues that I have found in my lifetime are continual, major and often fully denied issues.
A core of those- far more than many wish to admit, is racism. Sexism and ageism are right up on my agenda as well. Treatment of “the other”, folks not like you, or me, not like “us” in whatever group “us” is for you or I, this is a massive and real issue.
Incarceration, in fact the U.S. justice system in it’s deep and systemic flaws, issues that directly affect widows, orphans, the poor and minorities -these I will never stop focusing on.
Treatment of people of color and in particular, by professing Christians is a matter I’ll never stop addressing.
The Good News of Jesus in our application of it ceases to be truly good if we are not first concerned with loving those we proclaim it to.
It’s one thing for unbelievers to purposefully ignore or deny Jesus and His truth, demons are involved (and they are) but it’s another when immature, control-freak believers jockey for “checkmate” in arguing, support political policies that effectively leave minorities in the dust while defending and reinforcing classic white anglo-saxon protestant control whether directly or via government.
Straight-up, there is in my view ZERO JUSTIFICATION for the way most American governments as well as most white settlers dealt with Native Americans right through our history. Years of injustice leading to poverty and exclusion reap in others what our ancestors have sown and what we now support when injustice is the result of policies. There is ZERO JUSTIFICATION for our long history of same regarding African peoples and other people of color.
If my position disturbs you, or if you cease to respect or be a fan of Glenn Kaiser, Glenn wishes you grace and growth in Christ, because agreement or disagreement with me does not -bluntly put, matter all that much to me.
I’m blessed with a great many friends and of course, also those who consider me their enemy. It seems there are a lot of fans as well as those who never heard of or upon listening/reading/meeting me could care less or are repulsed. No surprise to me at all!
A military phrase is “As you were.”
Truly, thankfully, Jesus has never left me that option!
My love for Him and passion for my nation and world goes far beyond many WASP norms, so two concluding points:
I do enjoy mentioning that a dear Catholic priest friend is one major reason I follow Jesus from the first of my walk with the Lord until today… and, the first word in protestant is protest. Actual reform starts with me, with you, with US.
I seek to both live as well as speak the truth in love, best as I understand it- even as I protest. This means discomfort for some and comfort to others.
So be it.
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn