Sunday, January 7, 2024

#7 / Pressing On


I am open and I am willing
To be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change

That is Holly Near, pictured above. The quote is from her song, "I Am Willing." You can review the complete lyrics, and even hear her sing that song, by heading to the bottom of this blog posting. If you don't know Holly Near, you can click that link to her name to read a Wikipedia write up. 

I did not intend to reference Holly Near, as I started out writing this blog posting. My comment, today, is directed to an article that appeared on the "Opinion" page of the December 15, 2023, edition of The New York Times, "During War, We Must Press the Thelogical Truth." As I was starting to type out my thoughts on that article, a friend sent me the reference to Near, and to her wonderful song. I note, sometimes, that I encounter uncanny coincidences, as I travel through life. This unexpected appearance of Near's song, just as I was beginning to write about "theological truth," did strike me as such a coincidence. You can call it kismet, if you like that word!

In The Times, Esau McCaulley, Associate Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, speaks to the "fraught history of the Middle East." He suggests that the justification that both sides claim, as the killing proceeds in Israel, and Gaza, needs to be tested against the religious lessons that so many have been exposed to, and continue to be exposed to:

A central teaching of Christianity arising from Genesis, a text it shares with its Jewish neighbors, maintains that every person, regardless of country of origin, is made in the image of God and deserving of respect. We are not alone in this belief. Other religious and secular traditions have articulated a similar idea. This provides an opportunity for cooperation. The belief in the inestimable worth of human beings can be a moral anchor in the turbulent seas of conflicting concerns.

There is no more crucial time to press this basic truth than in times of war, when the humanity of one’s opponents gets tossed to the side. Contending for the dignity of Palestinian and Israeli civilians is a theological act when the goals of victory and of the protection of the innocent struggle with each other for supremacy. Giving equal value to human beings on both sides of the conflict does not entail making moral equivalences between Israel and Hamas. It requires considering the lives of noncombatants in Israel and Gaza as equally sacred.

I continue to think, as I regularly comment in these daily blog postings, that we are "all in this together," and (with Bayard Rustin) that "All People Are One." The kind of political action that I call for is, in the end, tied irrevocably to what can be seen as a "spiritual," or "theological" understanding of the world. We do, as I contend, create our own "human" world, which is the "political world" that I identify in the title of this daily blog. It is my belief - my contention - that creating a just "human world" is our life assignment, and that this assignment is "political." In the end, though, it is not irrelevant that I often identify the world in which we "ultimately" reside as "The World God Made." 

I am more and more able to say, with confidence, not only that we can "change the world," and that we "must," in fact, change the world, but that our ability to make the changes we need to make will either flourish, or flounder, depending on whether we think we are, in fact, all "one," to reaffirm what Bayard Rustin told us - or whether we insist on thinking that we, individually, without reference to everyone else, and without reference to the Earth that sustains us, are all that really matter.

Are we going to be able to "change," which we know is what we must do? Let us not "lose hope," for that is, as Holly Near sings, a great dishonor to all those who have gone before us. They did not lose hope. They have done so many great and wonderful things, and they have left them to us. 

And problems, too. And failings, too. Of course, there's that!

But let us think about - more than those who came before us, and both their successes and their failings - those who will come after us, those to whom we owe the duty of giving them a world in which they can (as we do) live. 

Whether we will succeed in doing that, or not, will depend, I really think, on whether we are "willing" to recognize the truth of what Bayard Rustin said, and what I think McCaulley is getting at in his column in The Times

All people are one. Together (remember, we do it together) we can change the world. 

Press on!


I am open and I am willing
For to be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change

There is hurting in my family
There is sorrow in my town
There is panic in the nation
There is wailing the whole world round

May the children see more clearly
May the elders be more wise
May the winds of change caress us
Even though it burns our eyes

Give me a mighty oak to hold my confusion
Give me a desert to hold my fears
Give me a sunset to hold my wonder
Give me an ocean to hold my tears
Holly Near
I Am Willing lyrics © Hereford Music

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!