As I wrote yesterday, I have gotten tired of almost exclusively reacting and responding to the words and actions of others, especially on social media. In the process of following events in our country through Facebook and Twitter, I felt I had lost a sense of what I am for and had been drowning in frustration over all the things I am against. In an effort to pop my head above the waters of anger and breathe deeply, I have spent some time thinking about what ignites my passion in a more positive sense and direction. As a follower of Christ, as I asked myself the question of what I am for, the first thing that came to mind were the words Jesus spoke at the very beginning of his public work. I will use his words from Luke 4:16-21 as a prompt to share at least some of the things that come to mind.
I am for “proclaiming good news to the poor.” Not empty words or vacant promises, but truly good news. Words that encourage hope, that reflect that their voices have been heard and their cries embraced with all the anguish they carry. I am for letting all people know that they are valued, cared for, worthy of dignity and support. I am for words of apology confessed with sincerity. I am for proclaiming Black Lives Matter, and that the lives matter of those whose skin color happens to be anything other than pasty white to peach! I am for proclaiming, “Enough.” I am for proclaiming that all people have been created in the image of God and God’s heart breaks whenever anyone’s words or actions make any other person feel anything less. I am for putting words with legal weight on legislation that declares that all human beings have equal rights. I am for standing up to bullies and bigots. I am for proclaiming that the people my face represents, and I, have sanctioned murder and theft through the apparatus of government, had an unfair advantage for nearly five centuries and owe reparations to those who were here first, and those who were brought here against their will, sold and treated as property.
I am for “proclaiming freedom to the prisoners,” literal prisoners and literal freedom! And I am for providing it, not just proclaiming it! I am for eliminating the convictions and sentences of all those arrested for possession and usage of marijuana, especially people of color. I am for completely overhauling our retributive approach to punishing crime and, rather, following every means of restorative justice that has been tried and succeeded anywhere else in the world. I am for letting even felons vote, have a fair shot at employment and a fair shot at housing opportunities. I am for taking even just five percent of the $700,000,000,000 per YEAR we spend on “defense” (not including the war expenses that come from some other account) and putting it towards “offense” that attacks the root causes of crime: addiction recovery, early childhood care for both children and parents, education and job training, after-school programs, pre-natal and post-natal home check ups, implicit bias awareness training, teaching de-escalation techniques to police officers. I am for paying teachers a fantastic wage for the front-line work they do and fully funding public education from pre-K through graduate school!
I am for “recovery of sight for the blind.” I am for the pursuit of scientific knowledge, for federally funded research into the causes of all illnesses and harms to humans, including gun violence. I am for universal health care. I am for research in technology that assists people in being able to live a full life and fully express who they are. I am for talking openly about mental illness and full funding for research into causes and cures. I am for whole communities caring for senior citizens, keeping an eye out for our neighbors, and feeding those who are hungry. I am for regulation on big pharma and subsidized prescriptions for those with low, or no, income. I am for filling “food deserts” with fresh fruit and vegetables available and affordable within walking distance. I am for making cities, suburbs, and countrysides more bike and pedestrian friendly. I am for taxing cars by their weight to pay for road repairs. And I am for cutting corporate welfare to find the billions of dollars that will be needed to make all these “pinko-commie” dreams come true.
I am for “proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor.” I am for sharing the truth that God so loves the whole world that God’s Son came to show us this truth and gave his life that all might have hope. I am for recognizing that when Jesus announced what he was for, he purposely did NOT say he was here to “proclaim the day of the Lord’s vengeance” (which was in the original Isaiah quotation). I am for preachers proclaiming that God’s grace is more powerful than our own sin or the world’s evil, and then living gracious lives that prove it. I am for proclaiming that the heavens declare the glory of God and so do the Cascades and Olympics on a sunny, winter morning. I am for proclaiming that all the dazzling colors and patterns and configurations of flora and fauna are glimpses of God’s never-ending creativity and that God put us on this blue, green and brown planet to enjoy what is good and right. I am for proclaiming that this life is hard and hurtful and heartbreaking at the same time as it is beautiful and brilliant and bountiful. And I am for sharing love and welcome with as many people as we can while we walk this earth.
I’ve written all this in one sitting to try and capture what is most top-of-mind. I haven’t even delved into the personal things I am for; like watching a 10-touch goal by the Sounders at the C-Link on a sunny, Saturday afternoon, or reading Gerard Manley Hopkins with a double Balvanie 12 yr, Caribeean-cask neat on a rainy Sunday evening, or just sitting on a couch in the family-room with everyone home and together, on any day, rain or shine! My list is far from exhaustive or particularly edited. As I began to write, more and more and more came to mind. The experience proved to be as enriching and energizing as scrolling through Twitter is often discouraging and depressing. I realize that much of what I have written is foolish, impractical, biased. But this is what I am for. And rather than react to what other people are proclaiming and doing, these are the things that I want to proclaim and do. In the words of Yul Brenner playing the Pharaoh of Egypt in The Ten Commandments, “So let it be written; so let it be done!”