Friday, August 18, 2017

Monuments and Statues

It is still unclear to me how we moved from the current cultural discord to the taking down all the Confederate statues. I guess last weekend when I took a sabbatical from the news and the world the argument shifted to these symbols that represented a fairly short period time in the human experiment. And the arguments are compelling on both sides; the statues represent oppression and slavery, and/or they represent our slice of our cultural history. Who decides to take them down? And the argument rages on.

This morning in the midst of my disciplines I was trying to focus on something else, but the prompting to think about this cultural argument kept cropping up and disrupting what I had planned to do. If you have spent time in meditation and reflection you know how annoying this can be. Finally I gave up and simply let my mind wander and wonder about all this.

There was finally a moment of clarity when I decided that all the monuments should come down. Although I had a great grandfather who fought with the confederacy, I realized that I had no allegiance to the statues. My historical family was comprised of people who apparently found it easier (and more fun?) to have a bunch of kids to do the back breaking work of farming. So we owned no slaves. So why should I care about the statues? It was a bit disconcerting to realize how many Confederate memorials there are in north Texas. You know why it surprised me? Because I had never visited a single one.

And while we are at it, lets take down the 10 Commandment monuments as well. They do not represent me. At no time in my life have I lived under the Law. It was written to about 4 million ragtag Hebrew slaves because they couldn't get along with each other, or their leaders, or their god. My tribe claims to have moved beyond these symbols of times gone by. Why should I or any of us find reason to argue over a monument?

But the explanations above do not reflect what I think is important. What is important is that we find a way to coexist in a reasonable and charitable manner. Will the tearing down of these monuments and statues help us find a place of reasonable dialog? Can we best show accommodation by arguing or lending a hand in taking down something that is offensive to someone else? How can we show people we desire relationship with each other over winning and argument?  In my opinion when we value statues over people we have turned them from statues to idols. And the history of my worldview is a constant reminder against that very thing.

The arguments against what I have said above is already exploding in some heads. "But they will just keep taking and taking and taking!!"
Probably. But here is the key; they can't take more than we can give. Think about that. At some point they will be satiated in their anger, and we will still have more to give them.

There is a final issue from my thoughts this morning. We are making history now. What monument or statue can we raise so that the generations behind us can look at them for inspiration, for guidance, for reassurance? What is our legacy? Hatred? Strife? Violence? Vitriol?
Or can it be compassion, accommodation, truth, mercy, tolerance?

Godspeed to the peacemakers, for you will be called Children of God. A God of peace and compassion.

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