We are the Middle

 

I have been watching the events of the last two days with increasing horror. First the shootings of two men by policemen and then the assassination of five officers in Dallas. But to be perfectly honest, as one cartoon recently said, “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.”

It’s not just the last few days—it is the last few years. It’s ISIS, it’s Black Lives Matter, it’s congressional gridlock, it’s watching the middle class disappear before my very eyes, it’s dealing daily with the hundreds of homeless and impoverished people in our community. It’s one mass shooting after another. It’s a polarization of the social and political process that has led to a demonization of anyone who disagrees with you. It’s religion being used by hateful people.

It’s watching helplessly as my country seems to be held hostage by lunatics, crass opportunists, and idiots.

But at heart I know that the craziness is not who we are. We are better than that, at least many of us. We are just silent. We are going about our own business, doing good where we can, shaking our heads in displeasure and disapproval, but not sure how to make a positive difference.

I am writing this because I am one of millions of people who see what is going on in our country, but we don’t know what to do about it. We see the extreme polarization, but we don’t fall neatly onto either side of the spectrum. We see that there are very serious problems in our country, but we also see the fantastic potential we have as a nation.

I am one of the millions of people who wonder why it is some policemen end up shooting black suspects in what should be routine, harmless encounters, but who also believe that the overwhelming majority of policemen are decent people who are willing to put their lives on the line to serve and protect the public.

I am one of the millions of Americans who believes we can have rational gun laws without either gutting the second amendment or kowtowing the political agenda of the NRA and the economic agenda of the gun industry.

I am one of the millions of Americans who believes we have a racial divide in our country, and that we cannot advance as a nation as long as that holds us back. We understand that increasing the divide will not make it go away. Nor will ignoring it. We have to deal with it.

I am one of millions of people who believe that religion is not designed to oppress people, or to lord our self-righteousness over others. Religion is designed to make individuals better people, more like the creator God we worship, and less like the demons who rebel against God.

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

We need more stars. We need more light. We need more people to speak up, to voice that not all of us are lunatics on the left or raving radicals on the right. We need to stop letting the crazies speak for us, and speak up for ourselves.

And that is what I am doing.

About tmrichmond3

I am the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Medford, Oregon. I believe that faith should be able to sustain us, not oppress us.
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