Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Reflection on Love and our Human Family

When asked by an interviewer; Desmund Tutu the illustrious religious leader and force behind the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa; sat in his chair, for is the wrinkles on his face bore the years of struggle and experience that only a great man could have accomplished by a life lived ideally.

Desmund Tutu was asked, how do you get people to stop killing each other? Tutu smiled with a love for his human family that seemed to conquer all the host of violence, betrayal and conflict that could possibly be conjured up by a cruel world. His smile revealed something so fundamental, so basic as if the question itself was almost silly for an interviewer to ask.

Tutu responded by stating that the moment we can all see that we all come from the same family will be the moment in which the violence of inequality and murder will cease to exist. Tutu, stated quite bluntly that he or anyone he knew could not drop a bomb on Iran, recruit another child solider, not pay a worker their fair wage, not traffic another young woman into a prostitution ring if we see each and every one of these people as a member of my family. After all, I cannot murder 'that' person because they are my sister, they are my brother. Only then will we be able to start with the healing process in a world that has in the past been so cruel to our brothers and sisters.

In a conversation I had with a friend over our yearly visit to the School of the Americas Protest calling for human rights to be observed in Central and South America we discussed the concept of beginning to see ourselves as one human family. She mentioned that this concept might not be as successful as Tutu had stated, for it was easy to think of this peachy idea of love human family in the complex state of mind as if it were some off center wacky idealist idea. After all, as a child she too had treated her biological sister with great senses of indignity. Well of course, I thought, knock me out of this peachy rosy dream and get back to reality Jon, we live in the real world after all. For I too had done quite a good job at treating my biological brother with a large degree of hatred and angst during the years that we grew up together. To this day, although I love my biological brother deeply, I cannot say that conflict between the two of us remains non-existent.

In the end, however, he is my brother and despite our differences I shall not try to actively harm him-through this treatment I too expect for that to be reciprocated. When I love, I expect for that my brother to do the same. The concept of one human family follows suit. For I might not always agree with my brother, my sister, however in the end they remain my brothers and sisters in the communion of our human family and when they suffer, our whole human family suffers.

After our conversation with my friend at the SOA, I started referring to her as my sister and their was a quiet transformation that allowed for all involved in the conversation to see each other differently than we had seen each other before and at some level I think the both of us started seeing the other people in our community this past weekend in a different light. At some level I felt like we had broken through some sort of an unspoken boundary. For she was no longer just a friend of mine, but a integral part of my family, she was my sister.

As we gathered at Ft. Benning this weekend, we gathered because our brothers and sisters were suffering and we stood at the gates of that army base petitioning that our sisters and brothers who were causing the suffering to stop. Bringing about the new world that we are all called to find means that we love unconditionally, a concept that is more threatening to the status quo than the most unruly gang of anarchist revolutionaries, communists, Al Quida terrorists or whatever. Whatever movement that we create needs to be based on the prophetic idea and words of Desmund Tutu and the concept of each being a part of a collective human family. The concept that we love our sisters and our brothers who are both at the hand of suffering, but also the brothers and sisters that are the catalysts for that suffering; for they are all apart of our human family.

Love unconditionally, love everyone, love, love, love, love and when that revolutionary act becomes the norm, the world that many of us have been looking for will be realized.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Just a few words....

In a world of derogation, denial of freedom and dignity of life, we cleave. Cleaving for something valid, something worth living for; as commercials fly by like candy and opiate we are convinced that we are not legitimate, not worthy, not loved. Only that commodity displayed in gold will bring us the happiness that each and every one of us is looking for.

But below us, on another level there is another world, another reality that low wage workers here in Milwaukee are facing everyday, and a world that does not revolve around the simple accumulation of commodity that serves only to allow us false happiness. No, sir, no maim, there’s another world a world that is plowed down by our highways, our Wal-Marts, our boutique outlets.

There is struggle, a struggle that doesn’t ask the question of what piece of clothing will elicit the greatest common denominator of sexual satisfaction, and acceptance by our peers. No, sir, no maim, this struggle is primal, and this struggle is for life itself. In Milwaukee and across this world we have a population that looks for nothing except where the next meal is going to come from, a population that must choose between baby formula and having to pay the rent. A population who through this struggle has found only comfort in drugs, alcohol and destitution.

And here we stand, which dress should we wear that makes our ass look sexy? Which automobile will complement my attitude? What present can I buy for my kid that will show them that I love them? What is going on here? What lies have we told ourselves to leave us in this point of such meaningless isolation with ourselves and the community to which we live?

In the end, what do we all really want? What do we cleave to? What are we trying to do? We want a world of hope, we want a world of dignity, and we want a world of grace. A world where companies like Capital Returns treat the people who work for them with respect, and no matter how many computer lines those workers down there are told to type per hour let us remember that they are not the machines that they are continually told that they are! They are humans! They are living, breathing, worrying, struggling through the broken down neighborhoods in which their wage and aliments caused by contact with dangerous medicine will never allow them to escape. Let us always remember that workers rights are human rights and the struggle of everyday life doesn’t have to be that way. I believe in a better way, a way where employees in low wage conditions have the voice to form a union and allow their disempowered voices to ring as loud as the tone of freedom on Independence Day.

We are human, all of us, let us never forget that! Let us treat each other decently, let us love unconditionally, let us live and break out of our cycles of poverty and through it, a new world will be possible!