This pointed cartoon was on Pinterest and it shouts volumes to me as a seminary student, physician, prior political candidate and attorney.
Mercy Hospital in Chicago this week was bleeding because a jilted crazed male entered as a gunman wanting to retaliate against an unrequited love. In the malicious chaos, three innocent people were killed, and the gunman was killed.
As a seminarian student, I hear the words of Jesus saying ” Those who use the sword will die by the sword.” Matt 26:52. As a physician, who has worked Emergency rooms and continues to have open doors to patients daily, I literally cringe for the needless death of a dedicated colleague.
Dr. O’Neal, the woman physician who was murdered, was no doubt cut from the cloth of most physicians, the fabric of wanting to help and heal. Medical personnel must deal with the presentation of very fragile patients each day, and what we have to offer that, is insubstantial to limited.
While the sad siege at Mercy Hospital was not a mass murder by any definition, it was an action of a mentally imbalanced man. His emotional and mental illness was missed at several levels, his academic institution, his fire department firing, his divorce hearings, his ex-wife, and his physician fiance, but none of them are to blame.
Instead, the blame if any goes to a system that makes it easy to get a gun, but hard and scare and shameful to get mental health treatment. Males especially in our society are conditioned to ignore or hide feelings of inadequacy, but encouraged via violent sports and rampant video games to retaliate, don’t capitulate. The National Alliance on Mental Illness can attest to the disastrous effects of the hard financial cuts in numerous states reducing the availability of mental health services. I surmise the tide of these ill thought budget cuts for mental health services is finally turning as we consider the Fiscal Year 2019 budget that will include $10 billion over five (5) years to combat the opioid epidemic and serious mental illness.
One domino down, but we still need serious legislation considering the ease of availability in obtaining guns, so granted. Still people kill people, and our society has glorified ill-placed power in wielding a gun. Our constitution provides for a right to bear arms, originally meant for militia, but in 2008 the Supreme Court endorsed that right to individuals in their home for self-defense. It is the lax vetting and the illegal access to weapons that brings the video screen vividly to life and death.
As a society, I believe and have faith in our God given common sense, plus the 6th commandment! (Refresher: Thou shalt not kill.) There are solutions and options. Constitutional amendments have been enacted in our history, budget increases are on the horizon, parental control of violent videos, maximum vetting for any gun purchase, and especially a society with a heart to address the needs of the mentally ill via services, lifting of stigma and discussing mental health openly in the public forum. Truth be told, I offer Psalm 34:14 for believers and non-believers, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
The POTUS hit a trifecta this past week, by publicly insulting 3 black female journalists.
The women – Abby Phillip, April Ryan and Yamiche Alcindor – earned his contempt apparently just for asking him questions. Mr Trump called one of Ms Phillip’s questions “stupid,” described Ms Ryan as “a loser” and brushed off Ms Alcindor, saying her question was “racist.” These are professional reputable women, being debased and bullied by a non-professional POTUS, how disgraceful! One would normally expect a leader to exude qualities of honesty, kindness and treating everyone equally. Not so with the current malignant narcissist in office.
As a Christian, Seminary student and Citizen, I simply cannot remain silent regarding the discrimination towards women from the current POTUS. We know from scripture that Jesus himself while on this earth, treated women with honor, value, dignity and respect. Jesus elevated the status of women when historically at the time women were generally discriminated upon. For Christ, women have an intrinsic value, equal to that of men. Jesus said, “…at the beginning the Creator made them male and female” (Matt 19:4; cf. Gen.1:27) Women are created in the image of God just as men are. Like men they have self-awareness, personal freedom, a measure of self-determination and personal responsibility for their actions. As a Christian, I am ashamed for the POTUS in his disregard and abuse of female citizens. As a nation, we should not accept such behavior from the POTUS, and he needs to be called out on it, not expecting such disregard to be tolerated. He needs to get his act together, or as a juvenile he needs to permanently stay in the time-out chair. Call the White House at 202-456-1414 and voice your strong concern and support for women. Let the POTUS know this is not acceptable and truth be told, not Christian.
The POTUS is literally declaring a war against an unarmed caravan of migrants from Honduras. The ‘caravan” is comprised of people, women, men and children, who have no choice but to leave their homeland or lose their lives. The causes for the migration are many, escaping domestic violence, dodging a gang out to murder you, or looking for employment to provide a future for your family.
The President describes these people as an “onslaught”, yet they are not attacking anyone. The President is preparing to attack them via his ordering deployment of 5,200 active duty troops to occupy the U.S.-Mexico border. Whether these people are being used as a pawn issue in view of the upcoming election or not, is certainly not the point. Additionally, they are being demeaned and described as invading and occupying, and the president is sending out the calvary to stop them in their tracks, a declaration of war.
Does anything justify such a response? Is the potential for violence actually brought on by the defensive and defamatory position taken, which accuses the migrants of ill-intent and harm to all in their journey pathway? Is violence ever justified? This is sheer war-mongering, and we Americans should not advocate such aggression toward these migrants.
There was another impactful journey recorded in the Gospels. Jesus of Nazareth and his followers entered Jerusalem totally nonviolently. They also came because they had been driven into poverty by the Roman Empire’s occupation of their land. Jesus had compassion on those who were marginalized and alienated. Those rejected in society were despised, but Jesus came to bring liberation not just from sins but rather from the whole dominating system and from the ideas upon which it was founded, then and now!
Innocent people throughout history were treated violently, our own President is in effect declaring war and possible violence against innocent migrant people. As Christians, we are morally obligated to call out the self-proclaimed reaction of our President against these innocent migrants. Will we allow the perpetuation of violence to be the continued historical answer toward those who we choose to control and oppress? These migrants do not represent an assault on our country, they represent an assault on our conscience!
Make no moral mistake, truth be told, the real essence of these migrants is being totally distorted and confabulated prior to an upcoming election. They do not qualify for asylum, but they do deserve a hearing.
The majority of the people in the world, as surveyed by the World Economic Forum, believe climate change is the most serious issue affecting the world today. This is particularly true of the millennial generation. https://www.businessinsider.com
As a seminarian student, I want to add my voice ( and my vote) to this concern because it is not just a political issue for me, it is a faith issue. In the Hebrew Bible, God as Creator, from the beginning of time, made us to have dominion over all that lives on this planet. Genesis 1:26 Dominion refers to supreme rule. The term does not speak of exploiting the natural world, but rather of sharing in the divine rule, given to humanity because they are created in God’s image and are thus capable of distinguishing between exploitation and stewardship. Stewardship includes the principles of service and accountability, and acknowledges God as owner of all goods.
The earth follows the finger of rhyme and reason, in time and season, yet we as consuming citizens have lived a selfish approach in our careless consumption of resources, and literal destruction of nature in the name of progress and capitalism.
One main cause is the burning of fossil fuels, which adds chemicals to the air we breathe. These same chemicals are masking heat from escaping into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. The slow creeping effects of global warming are showing up in signs in nature, by slow animal extinction, pulmonary diseases in humans, poorer soil and crop production, and evolving unusual temperatures across the globe.
I believe that our Creator is more than willing to work with humans to reverse what appears to be inevitable. I join with people of faith to proclaim this issue of environmental justice. It is all about choices!
In this crucial and immense social issue, I want to focus mainly on two matters for your further consideration.
1.) The Paris Climate Agreement; and
2.) Your Carbon Footprint.
First, it has been 17 months since our president withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement. The U.S.A continues to formally attend the major negotiating sessions, because the withdrawal cannot go into effect until 4 years from the date of signing. Interestingly, that date will be in Nov. 2020, one day after our next presidential election. So there you have it millennial voters, consider voting for a candidate that will keep the USA in agreement so we can live a life we can live with. Vote for a net zero emissions platform.
Secondly, your carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide—released into the atmosphere by your particular human activities.
So going for the chase, how can you reduce your footprint? So simple, become a creature of new habits!
1.) Reduce your transportation fuel consumption, use mass transit.
2.) Turn off those light switches if not absolutely needed, and put in LED bulbs.
3.) Reduce your waste, buy second hand items, bring your own reusable bags to stores, use filtered tap water.
4.) Plant trees, plant trees, and support tree planting.
5.) Use less water and use it more efficiently. Turn the hot water heater down a tad right now!
Check out creationjustice.org and Environmental Ministries for starters.
TRUTH BE TOLD IT IS ALL UP TO EACH ONE OF US!
The #MeToo movement has brought to light endless accounts of abuse against women. Change will only come, however, when the specifics of the context of this abuse are taken into account.
As a seminary student, I know that scripture teaches “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32. But I am also a physician and an attorney, and I know truth-telling can even be harmful without well-considered policies that fit the cultural context that will actually work to reduce harm and promote justice.
Thus, there cannot be a ‘one size fits all approach’ to these important issues. An important example of this is the plight of the indigenous women, specifically Native American women. Native American women are subject to a different standard of rights and justice within their own tribal judicial systems and tribal police departments.
84% of Native American women experience violence in their life. Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between the ages of 24 and 34. The quagmire arises because most such violence is perpetrated by non-Native American men, who are not under the jurisdiction of tribal courts.
As a hopeful solution the Violence Against Women Act, revised in 2013, gave tribal nations the power to prosecute non-tribal members for domestic violence only. The law having been in effect since 2015 has been impossible to implement due to lack of resources in the criminal justice infrastructure. So it is almost of null effect, other than documented on paper.
Furthermore, the problem is even more complex. A recent report reveals that though Native Americans face discrimination across many areas of life, the high exposure of such treatment is for those Native Americans that are living in majority Native areas. This bespeaks internal discrimination and women are the main brunt of such devastation of lack of justice.
People of faith and values need to not only care about such injustices, but educate themselves about the specifics to advocate for change that will really work. Only then, will advocacy move to action.
Call and write at the local, state and national level and bring this travesty to the table. I know together we can all do better, truth be told and action taken that really helps Native women.
Fate led you here, to join me in the pursuit of Christian justice. You will not leave here the same, and we will push forward together in this journey. This blog will be updated frequently with articles that will be thought-provoking and motivating for real change.