Respect the ‘anointed’

“Because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.”

 

Kind of fits today, doesn’t it? I see a lot of “love growing cold” these days, turning to the other extreme: hatred. Far too many mass shootings; far too many shootings by and of police; far too many Facebook posts that are little more than vicious attacks. From all sides. Especially this political season.

Yikes. Here’s another quote:

 

“Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your officers who have saved your life today … for love of those who hate you and for hatred of those who love you. You have made it clear today that commanders and officers are nothing to you…”

 

Too many people think this way about our men and women in blue today. Shootings of police are almost a (tragic) daily ritual now.

“Commanders and officers” also could represent “leaders,” especially political and military leaders. The shoe still fits. I wish it didn’t, but it does.

Here’s one more thought for the day:

 

“Those who plan good find loyalty and faithfulness.”

 

Makes sense, doesn’t it? If all involved benefit from the plan, then “everyone” will jump on board and support it. Right?

So then, how do we define “good?” No easy answer for that one.

Three quotes that fit modern times, especially in the United States.

All three come from the same source. And because of the source, some of you will instantly reject those quotes outright. That’s how judgmental we’ve become in this country.

The messenger, not the message

Who speaks matters more than what the speaker says.

It doesn’t matter what Donald Trump says this week. Democrats will reject it.

It doesn’t matter what Hillary Clinton will say next week. Republicans will reject it.

It’s been that way for years, actually. Democrats love their speakers and Republicans love theirs, and never the twain shall meet (Rudyard Kipling).

Their actual messages are lost. As a country, we’ve stopped listening.

The controversial source …

Those three quotes? I hesitate to tell you where they came from.

The Bible.

One of the most controversial books ever written. Some of you will stop reading right here because you reject the source.

(For the record, the references are, in order, Matthew 24:12; 2 Samuel 19:5-6; and Proverbs 14:22.)

I’ve heard some people say that Christians are the most judgmental people on Earth. Wars have been fought over Christianity. That’s true.

But Jesus did not come here to condemn us. He came to save us (John 3:16-17). The Bible includes plenty of stories of people who got it right. We tend to focus on those who didn’t.

Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., which was one of the protest groups outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week, does not represent Christianity. At all. It’s a hateful, judgmental “church” that picks and chooses which Bible passages it wants to preach. It gives Christianity a bad name.

We don’t need to be judged. We need to be encouraged. Most of us, anyway.

The Bible offers plenty of that, if we’ll take the time to check it out.

Why are we so afraid of that?

Respect, not judgment

I’ll share one story from the Old Testament that, again, fits in very well with today’s political climate.

David was a young boy who killed Goliath, a giant, in a very famous story. He then was anointed king – while the current king was still alive.

That king, Saul, was not impressed. He wanted his son, Jonathan, to be the heir to his throne. God said no.

Jonathan was amazing. He supported David rather than his father because God chose David.

So, God doesn’t always pick the obvious choice.

But David is the central figure here. Saul is jealous. He wants David dead, so his son can become king.

David runs away and hides in caves, attempting to stay alive. Saul chases him all over the countryside, trying to capture him and kill him.

The king is David’s enemy, right? You’d think so.

The Bible is full of surprises. Not contradictions, but surprises.

One time while Saul was chasing David, Saul stopped to go to the bathroom. Yes, that happened in the Bible. He entered a cave to do his duty. Little did he know that David and his band of rogue supporters were holed up deep in that very cave.

David’s men whispered to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand’…”

David’s response? He stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak to prove later that he could have killed the king, and let him go.

David said this: “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to raise my hand against him, for he is the LORD’s anointed.”

While David did not respect Saul – after all, Saul wanted David dead – he respected Saul’s position. Saul was king. That was good enough for David.

If only we, as Americans, respected the office of the President of the United States the way David respected his leader, no matter who holds the seat …

Those who hate President Obama need to take notice here. And whomever wins the presidency in November should receive the respect the office deserves – whether we agree with his or her policies or not.

‘Anointed’

The office of the president itself is “anointed.” I wish America understood that.

David got it. This story is told in 1 Samuel 24. Don’t take my word for it. Feel free to read it yourself.

There are far too much lawlessness, shame and pure hatred going on right now.

In the words of the old children’s song, “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me …”

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RNC protesters to descend on Cleveland

Numerous groups are planning to protest in some way at next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

City officials are bracing for violence, but many of the groups say they plan peaceful marches and/or protests.

Groups planning to come to Cleveland represent a wide range of interests. They include supporting immigration, socialism or even communism, or opposing war, racial, economic or political oppression, capitalism or the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

Here is a partial list of protesters planning to visit Cleveland during the convention, set for Monday through Thursday, July 18-21:

 

American Party of Labor, http://americanpartyoflabor.org/. Our aim is to abolish the capitalist system and all its horrors by replacing it with socialism, a system based on the principle laid out by Marx, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”

Anti-War Committee, http://antiwarcommittee.org/, in Minneapolis, Chicago, Utah, Tuscon and Milwaukee.

AFSCME Local 1216, a Sandusky, Ohio-based United Auto Workers Union, http://www.1216.org/.  The union serves more than 1,600 employees who work at the Ventra Sandusky facility and produce automotive headlamps and tail lamps. Local 1216 also boasts a retiree membership that numbers more than 1,400 and consists of past Ford, Visteon, ACH and Ventra employees.

BAYAN USA, http://bayanusa.org/, an alliance of 20 progressive Filipino organizations.

Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, http://naarpr.org/, which began in 1973 as part of a movement to free political prisoner Angela Davis,  who was emerged as a 1960s leader of the Communist Party USA and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

Community Uprise at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, https://www.facebook.com/c0mmunityuprise/.

Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC, https://www.facebook.com/events/574059672757617/, which has as its agenda to dump Trump, say no to the Republican agenda and stand against racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim attacks.

Code Pink Women for Peace, www.codepink.org, which describes itself as a grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S.-funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect U.S. resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization, http://www.frso.org/, a socialist and Marxist-Leninist organization in the United States that fights for justice, particularly in labor, oppressed nationality, anti-war and anti-imperialist, and student movements. Freedom Road was founded in 1985 with the merger of three groups that were born in the New Communist Movement of the 1970s.

Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, http://globalcleveland.org/directory/item/15-refugee/296-greater-cleveland-immigrant-support-network, which educates about and works for equitable immigration policy and promotes inter-cultural awareness and appreciation. The network initially supported immigrants who were coping with removal, incarceration or persecution. Since then the network has emerged as a local community organization educating, lobbying and advocating on behalf of the marginalized immigrant population.

Institute for Global Education in Grand Rapids, Mich., http://www.igegr.org/,  a meeting place for community groups that share concerns about human rights and education for multicultural and religious awareness. It promotes peaceful conflict resolution through training, workshops with youth and adults, and ongoing community discussion.

International Action Center, http://iacenter.org/, which offers information, activism and resistance to U.S. militarism, war and corporate greed, linking with struggles against racism and oppression within the United States.

International League of Peoples’ Struggle, http://www.ilps.info/index.php/en/, which promotes, supports and develops anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the peoples of the world, including workers, peasants, women, youth, professionals and other sectors of society against the ideological, political, military, economic, social and cultural domination and attacks of imperialism and reaction.

Jacksonville (Fla.) Progressive Coalition, http://www.jacksonvilleprogressivecoalition.org/.

Legalization For All Network, https://legalizationforall.wordpress.com/, which demands  immigration reform – legalization for all, no guest worker expansion and no more repression.

Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, https://mirac1.wordpress.com/, which organizes the immigrant community and its allies to try to win legalization for all and equality in all aspects of life. We struggle for legalization, for a moratorium on raids and deportations, and for drivers’ licenses for all regardless of immigration status. It was formed in spring 2006 out of immigrant rights marches.

Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, http://afsc.org/category/topic/northeast-ohio, a Quaker organization devoted to service, development and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Organize Ohio, http://www.organizeohio.org/index.html, which encourages community organizing as a strategy for progressive change in Ohio. Organize Ohio strives to build a system of support for community organizing efforts across the state by bringing together groups and organizations.

People’s Fightback Center, based in Cleveland, http://www.fightbacknews.org/, which is opposed to exploitation, discrimination and oppression. We hold that the rich class of people who run the economy and government of this country are unfit to rule. We support all movements that challenge their power and privilege.

People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism and Racism, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., https://www.facebook.com/powirsofl/.

Revolution Books Cleveland, https://revbookscle.org/, which offers a new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian based on summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far and drawing from a broad range of human experience. 

Stand Together Against Trump, http://www.follownews.com/hashtag/stand-together-against-trump, which opposes presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s language toward women and minorities, including immigrants and Muslims.

Students for a Democratic Society, http://www.newsds.org/, chapters at the University of Pennsylvania, Houston, University of Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Tallahassee, Fla., University of Utah, Angelina College in Texas, and in DuPage, Ill. The society is dedicated to making the connections between students and people’s struggles, and between issues and the bigger systems of which they are a part. We ground our work in an understanding of how our issues intersect, how our struggles are connected, and how to actively question and creatively approach those things that separate us. We recognize the importance of fighting injustice on multiple fronts. We know that individual struggles are never won alone.

Utah Against Police Brutality, https://www.facebook.com/UtahAgainstPoliceBrutality.

Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., http://www.godhatesfags.com/, which claims the only lawful sexual connection is the marriage bed. All other sex activity is whoremongery and adultery, which will damn the soul forever in Hell.

Youth Empowered in the Struggle at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, https://yesinthestruggle.wordpress.com/, a youth-led multinational organization that works for the rights of immigrants, students and workers.

 

Sources:

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/06/27/dozens-leftist-groups-announce-rnc-protest-coalition/

http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20160520/NEWS/160529976/cleveland-posts-applications-for-rnc-protest-permits

Giving thanks on the 4th

With all the rancor surrounding both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, we’ve got it good in the United States. Really good. Really.

We’re allowed to argue and protest in this country, as long as we don’t get violent. And most of us take our living conditions for granted.

Haiti

Haiti Deaf Women Slain
Venita, who is deaf, serves rice for breakfast to Wilmine, right, Jessica, center, and Bradley, three children of her friend Jesula Gelin in Leveque, a community where a group of deaf people relocated after the 2010 earthquake in Cabaret, Haiti. (The Associated Press)

We could live in Haiti. That country is less than two hours away from Miami, Fla., by airplane. (It’s a lot farther away by boat, which is why refugees from that part of the world seeking asylum in this country sometimes don’t make it.)

A friend told us he visited Haiti several years ago, and saw extreme poverty there. He learned that government corruption is the major cause. He said a huge chunk of taxes raised is wasted, leaving most Haitians destitute.

The World Bank offers this summary:

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the developing world. Its per capita income — $ 250 — is considerably less than one-tenth the Latin American average. About 80 percent of the rural Haitian population lives in poverty. Moreover, far from improving, the poverty situation in Haiti has been deteriorating over the past decade …

The staggering level of poverty in Haiti is associated with a profile of social indicators that is also shocking. Life expectancy is only 57 years compared with the Latin American average of 69. Less than half of the population is literate. Only about one child in five of secondary-school age actually attends secondary school. Health conditions are similarly poor; vaccination coverage for children, for example, is only about 25 percent. Only about one-fourth of the population has access to safe water. In short, the overwhelming majority of the Haitian population is living in deplorable conditions of extreme poverty. In the face of this daunting reality, Haiti’s population continues to grow at a high rate estimated at almost 200,000 people per year.

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTPA/0,,contentMDK:20207590~menuPK:443285~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:430367,00.html

The article lists “political instability, woefully poor governance and corruption” as a major cause of poverty in Haiti, confirming my friend’s point.

About 10.8 million people live in Haiti, slightly less than the population of Cuba.

Russia

Russia Britain EU
Russian President Vladimir Putin. (The Associated Press)

Or, we could live in Russia, where an average of 19.2 million Russians – or 13.4 percent of the population – were living last year on less than 9,452 roubles ($139) a month, the minimum subsistence level determined by the Russian government in the fourth quarter.

This figure represents a 20 percent increase year-on-year, with an average 16.1 million people living below the poverty threshold in 2014.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/22/millions-more-russians-living-in-poverty-as-economic-crisis-bites

Politically, Vladimir Putin, serving his third term as president of Russia, has made several controversial decisions during his most recent term (which began in 2012). In December 2012, he signed into a law a ban on the U.S. adoption of Russian children. According to Putin, the legislation aimed to make it easier for Russians to adopt native orphans. However, the adoption ban spurred international controversy.

Putin further strained relations with the United States the following year when he granted asylum to Edward Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency.

The United States is not a military aggressor, as Russia occasionally is:

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2014 Winter Olympics, amid widespread political unrest in the Ukraine … Putin sent Russian troops into Crimea, a peninsula in the country’s northeast coast of the Black Sea. The peninsula had been part of Russia until Nikita Khrushchev, former Premier of the Soviet Union, gave it to Ukraine in 1954. Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, claimed that approximately 16,000 troops invaded the territory, and Russia’s actions caught the attention of several European countries and the United States, who refused to accept the legitimacy of a referendum in which the majority of the Crimean population voted to secede from the Ukraine and reunite with Russia. 

Putin defended his actions, however, claiming that the troops sent into Ukraine were only meant to enhance Russia’s military defenses within the country — referring to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which has its headquarters in Crimea. He also vehemently denied accusations by other nations, particularly the United States, that Russia intended to engage Ukraine in war.

http://www.biography.com/people/vladimir-putin-9448807#2014-winter-olympics

Iraq

Worst of all, we could live in Iraq or Syria.

Mideast Iraq
Iraqi security forces and civilians gather at the site after a car bomb hit Karada, a busy shopping district in the center of Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday. (The Associated Press)

ISIS claimed responsibility for a car bomb that killed more than 125 people and injured about 150 others Saturday evening in Baghdad, Iraq.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on Twitter. The group claimed it was targeting Shiite neighborhoods.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/02/middleeast/baghdad-car-bombs/

The attack is only the latest in a string of attacks dating back several years.

ISIS has seized large swathes of land stretching from central Iraq to northern Syria, where it controls millions of people. In 2014 the group declared the establishment of a “caliphate” – a successor of past Islamic empires governed according to Sharia law …

Ultimately, the terrorist group wants to build a caliphate that will rule the world. 

ISIS welcomes confrontation as fulfilling an apocalyptic prophecy of a battle between jihadist and ‘infidel’ armies. 

The terrorist group has recruited fighters from abroad and it international network of terrorist cells has staged horrific attacks all over the world. 

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/644304/ISIS-Islamic-State-Destroy-West-Terrorist-Syria-Iraq

We could live in a nation where hatred rules. If you don’t believe like I do, you die.

United States

Most of us don’t have to worry about where our next meal will come from. We don’t have to live in fear that our own government wants to kill us.

As bad as things sometimes get around here, we still have plenty of control over our own lives.

I don’t like the direction our country is headed. We are losing respect for people who don’t think like us. I hope and pray that we learn (again) how to get along with each other, so we don’t implode like Haiti or become terrorists like ISIS.

Even so, we’ve got it good in this country. Let’s give thanks for our freedoms. This country isn’t perfect, but it sure beats any alternative that’s out there.

Happy 4th, everyone.