Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why we hate

I have very little to do in this post surgical immobile and drugged up state. This took a very long time to write and I hope it's coherent.

The media has their panties in a bunch over what to call the shooter.  Is he a terrorist, a thug, mentally ill, racist... I say, yes to all of those. But if we are looking at the most descriptive name, it would seem "white supremecy extremist" should do the trick.

Not that it matters! These kinds of issues - what label we use, that he got apprehended peacefully, that the Confederate flag still flies over some building in SC - pale in comparison to the real issues that need deep and meaningful conversations. In this case: what is truly at the root of racism.

To really understand this, we need to go deeper than why some white Americans hate black Americans. The real question is why does anyone hate anyone? And the answer is not all that complex. Once understood, we can plot a path forward, and be realistic in our expectations.

So why do we hate? We hate what we fear, and we all fear things that are dangerously different. I do. You do. We all do.

The reality is that for a very long time people from other races were considered dangerously different. This reality is not new. We have a long history as a species of anyone-not-like-me being considered dangerous and as a result, feared and hated. Think about every war ever fought. Think about every border ever establish, every wall ever constructed. All to keep people of sameness away from something or someone who is "other".

There are two reasons for this in my worldview.

The first is because it helps a lot when it comes to survival. It is a natural instinct bred in us. By natural I do not mean we were designed that way, only that it is now a part of our nature.

In the opening of Genesis, the bible talks about the "good" version of human life. Man and animal living in harmony. Enter the fall; killing starts. Killing (danger) leads to fear, fear leads to hate. Whether that's a literal thing 6000 years ago or just a word picture of how things got this way is irrelevant. Today we fear things that are dangerous and we hate what we fear.

In Isaiah (11:6), when the perfect is restored, the bible says "wolf will lay down with lamb." Why is that imagery used, because right now the wolf would eat the lamb. Perfection means no more danger; no more fear. Fear is gone in a restored humanity.

If your not of the bible believing type, just look at natural selection. Same theory. Fear keeps us alive. So fearful species survive to make more fearful versions of themselves. We fear otherness in our core being. All of us. What we fear we inevitably hate. 

This leads to a ton of other ideologies like:
-We are better then them
-We need to control them
-They are not as valuable as we are
-We need to protect ourselves from them
-We should concour, enslave, or annihilate them because they are lesser than us

You get the idea.  This is our history as a species from early tribal wars to the Roman empire through the crusades to Hitler and the Islamic terrorists of today. It's ingrained in our makeup. It's who we are.

I am not saying on one hand, that there is no such thing as a just war, or on the other that we cannot or should not change. I'm only detailing the question of why - why do we hate. We hate what we fear, we fear what we consider dangerous, and we (as a species) have considered people from other races dangerous.

Knowledge is what brings us the ability to realize that skin tone is meaningless and that we are truly the same, but we as a species still fear what is dangerous and different. The majority of us in recent history have moved past the idea that other people are dangerous, but we still respond to danger the same way. Just go to the zoo and remove the cages. You will have fear of the lion walking up to you. Some people, like this individual still have the idea that people of other races are dangerous. Therefore racism continues.

The second reason in my world view is related to the first, but it is far more spiritually grounded and it speaks to why we seem slow to change... why people like this individual still exist. 

Of course if you are a naturalist, then we have nothing but our own will to try to undo millions of years of evolutionary process. It can't happen like it does in the Croods - one generation shaking off this great fear. We need to establish that fear of other people is not a hindrance to survival before we begin to see that tendency replaced with the opposite - that loving people leads to longer life. This will take a very long time and we should expect there to be remnants of the old model during the transition. In fact, if evolution is the only force at work, this should take generations upon generations to work through.

I do not believe that evolution is the only force at work. In fact, I believe the progress we have seen in destroying these long held ideals is evidence of something greater at work.

We forget some times that good and evil are battling. This is not passive and it is not based on our physical actions alone.  We have an enemy of our souls who is actively seeking to destroy us. He looks for people with bad ideas and actively works to continue, strengthen, and perpetuate those terrible ideas. He breeds fear and he encourages those destructive fears trying with all his might (and he is strong) to make things like Wednesday night, or 12/14 happen.

However, good is also battling, and I believe we are winning. We have access to more and better information then we ever have. We understand why our skin tones differ. We understand why people differ in personality and character. We need to be careful to not lose our ability to think for ourselves because of easily accessible knowledge, but in general these kinds of ideas (extremism, racism, etc) are being removed from society and replaced by love for one another. This may be happening slower than we would like, but it's happening overnight in humanity's terms, and it's undoing a really long time's worth of conditioning.

We know we are winning because for every one person who the enemy gets to the point of  this extremism, there are a million good souls capable in theory of the same savagery, yet willing to love, care, and give instead.

When these events happen we should be saddened, and challenged to double down on our commitment to end these ideals, but we have no right to be shocked by it. We are built from the same stuff. It's what we have done to each other for ages.

Since we know that fear is the root, we should ask ourselves what things generate fear of people? What things continue to reinforce an us vs them mentality?

Does that thing you post on facebook reinforce our differences or celebrate our sameness?

Does the news anchor asking if a black senator is impacted differently then a person from another race help the cause of unity or just reinforce division?

Do you add to the 'people who are different are dangerous' dialog? Do you call tea partyers tea baggers, or democrats demoncrats, just because you disagree with them? I know I have. I must stop.

What I've seen of the Charleston community is 99% good. People praying together. People giving. People worshiping. Yet the news keeps asking divisive leading questions. At one point Megan Kelly was stopped by Tim Scott saying that he was not dwelling on those negative items, she commended him for that, but turned around and asked the same abhorrent questions a minute later.  It's repulsive. If you want the biggest problem slowing our progress, look to the main stream media. Social media is often no better.

Another thing we need to address is the stigmas around mental illness. We all understand mental illness to be dangerous, but danger with knowledge and wisdom does not need to be feared. Why? The same reason we don't need to fear other skin colors. We are the same. Every one of us has the same capability of a destructive mental state.

Mental illness (be it purely chemical, or spiritually influenced -both can happen) is real and as a society we need to find ways to both increase mental health, and detect and correct for mental illness. My problem with our current measures are they only address the physical side (drugs and therapy). There is a group of wonderful Christian counselors who do what they can during therapy, but they are often tied by the law or corporate policy to not address the spiritual side when it is obvious that is what's needed. Those who can  (like those in specifically Christian practices) have successes, and I'd like to see that studied more clearly.

But we need to invest in reducing the stigmas and finding real solutions to increasing mental health. That does not need to happen from a place of fear.

These are areas we can move forward in, but I want to close by reiterating... it is painful to see another reminder that we are not finished removing racism, but we should be so encouraged by the response of Chucktowniens. In the battle, good is winning. We have not won, and we should not be surprised when evil is seen. Double down on love, community, unity, and restoration. Avoid adding to the division, even in small ways.

Be #CharlestonStrong

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Welfare... an idea

I was recently commenting about limitations on food stamps. I have been thinking a lot about this topic and feel that I just needed to put pen to paper as it were.

The welfare system is broken. We are unfortunately left with trying to fix a symptom of the welfare system instead of correcting the problem. You see, the discussion is on limiting the items someone on food stamps can purchase. The problem is that there are people on food stamps wasting that money; junk food on one extreme; steak and lobsters on the other. Folks buying these types of items are either taking advantage of the situation or are in a mentally unwise state. So like all government solutions, more regulations is the only answer: Limit the things someone can buy on food stamps.

But that does not feel right. It’s just more government control.

As a good libertarian leaning right winger, I want government out of the process. The Christian in me agrees with the spirit of the left wanting to help people in need. At times, the right of center folks forget the realities of hurting people. It’s convenient to complain of government spending and ignore the very real needs of people when your job is solid and you can make ends meet. We get a bad rap on this topic because we tend to do so.

At the same time, the left will use this as an advantage saying that those who are against welfare don’t care about poor people who are hurting. This is simply not true. It’s good rhetoric, but it’s ultimately fallacious.

People are generally good and want to help others. There is a powerful force in most of us to do good for others. Depending on different world views, that is based on various items, but it does not matter. In spite of the ugly selfish side of humanity, there is a stronger side that cares for others. That side may not have the same way of drawing viewers to the 24 hour news cycle, but it is by far the majority of people. Just look at the outpouring of generosity in the face of disaster or tragedy. We all want to help people in need. The question is how best to accomplish that with as little waste and unhealthy enabling.

A good democratic friend said to me one time, welfare is just me helping you out when times get rough. My reply, “No, that’s charity.”

In fact, welfare is charity with a nice government cut taken off the top for “processing.” We have plenty of charitable organizations in this country that are already being funded by people who see the good work that a charitable organization does, and funds its mission.

So if I were president, this would be my solution.

Create a food bank fund type for existing non-profit organizations. Every person filing their taxes can donate some dollar amount (perhaps $100 for an individual or $150 for a family) into the food bank fund for a full tax credit. In other words, you are going to send that $100 to the government anyway. You can optionally redirect those funds to a fund managed by the non-profit organization of your choice. 100% of the funds donated must be used for feeding the poor in that community within 12 months. Anything left over goes to the government. There will be no preacher salaries paid out of the money. If you need funds to run your church or community center you raise them another way. Every dollar must be used directly to feed or clothe the poor.

The beauty of this solution is it respects both points of view. If you want government to manage those funds, you simply do nothing. If you want to get involved personally with your charitable giving, then you do so. Then we run some data analysis to see if the food banks are better stocked or if the homeless are able to get food in areas where people are donating. We can look at people on assistance and see if the needs are being met through the system. If 10% of the population takes advantage of it, then the plan is killed. If 50-75% of people take advantage of it, then I believe we would see food banks overflowing with food and necessities because there is no government overhead.

If it works it has the ability to wean our society off the government’s teat one social program at a time. It retrains our people to give regularly which is good for the human spirit.  It also leverages the large network of charitable non-profits this country has and allows us to ultimately get rid of another government program that is full of abuse. Most of all it allows for the human touch. When a welfare worker issues an EBT card that can be used anywhere for anything, there is no community built; there are no human souls impacted by that transaction outside of the important fulfillment of a real need. However, when a person admits they need help, and asks a local food bank or a church for food, they get a person coming along side of them. They get moral support as well as nutritional support. They often find a family able to connect them with work or training programs.

And more importantly, the people giving get to see people in need. They get to see the realities of the 
situations people are in. There is compassion instead of annoyance. There is humility instead of pride. There is gratitude for what we have and generosity toward those who have not. Every mouth that is fed is also feeding the soul of both the giver and receiver.

I’d like your vote…

I’m Dwayne Boulden and I approve this message.