Estrangers

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March 7, 2021- This morning, after ten years of my being a member, in good standing, of a veterans’ service organization, the matter of my Faith was raised-specifically that I am viewed by some, who I have known and with whom I’ve gotten along well for this past decade, as a “non-Christian”.

The context of this was with regard to a request that I serve again as the organization’s Chaplain, a post I held, with a good record of service and with no complaints registered, for two years, prior to embarking on several years of extensive travel. That latter stream of activity is set to resume in July of this year, and for that reason, I am declining the above request. An officer in a service organization needs to stay put-even in the days of Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

The larger issue here is that there is a shrinkage of the social circle of many people, partly a result of the political mayhem that has been afoot in this country, across the spectrum, for the past dozen years-if not longer, and partly because of a rising false narcissism, rooted in fear. Those I joined for breakfast, nearly each Sunday that I was in town, for the past ten years, have taken to talking only among themselves and shoving everyone else, including yours truly, to the sidelines. A culture of estrangement has taken root, which can only be detrimental to those who profess belief in the Paragon of Love. That embracing of parochialism has, from what I’ve seen in the past, only led to bitterness.

I cannot, and will not, turn aside from my Heavenly Father, in the name of a label. I cannot, and will not, let “estrangers” define who I am. So, with all prayer and loving regard for the members of said service organization, it’s time to move on.

Schisms and -isms

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December 12, 2019-

A participant in a recent Baha’i Studies Conference, in Ottawa, Ontario, made the case for a movement she called “womanism”.  The gist of this movement’s philosophy is similar to to the campaign message of the American politician, Tulsi Gabbard:  Bring forward a true ethic of inclusion; the practice of not shutting anyone out, on the basis of their stated beliefs.  The premise here is inclusion, not opposition.

I favour such a movement, as I believe that everyone has a grain of truth to bring to the table.  That does not mean that someone who regards others as inferior should remain unchallenged in her/his pronouncements and certainly, actions that take away someone else’s rights or extinguish viewpoints, contrary to what one believes, are to be seen as counterproductive.  Repressed thoughts and opinions will never disappear.  They may even return, with a vengeance, in the form of counter-revolution.

It also does not sanction violence against one’s philosophical opponents, if for no other reason than to preclude their being seen as martyrs.   I much prefer to maintain appropriate dialogue, with its inherent boundaries, than to shut a person out in perpetuity.  Again, I draw the line at those who threaten violence or demand that I “toe the line.”

Many movements end their names with the suffix, “-ism”.  To wit, besides the above-mentioned womanism, we have “feminism”, “Islamism”, “supremacism” and the more conventional nationalism and sectarianism.  Such -isms, especially the last four mentioned, seem to lead to schism.  The founders of such movements may, or may not, have envisioned such divides, and thus incorporated them in their planning.    Nonetheless, any time one sets out to make a difference, if there is a pre-conceived Other, there is a potential schism.  Even a term as seemingly benign as non- (insert your identity group), is inherently creating a division in society.

It’s time to seriously work on abandoning the concept of “Other.”  Our self-concepts do not need it, in order to appreciate our uniqueness.