Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Soon We Forget

It recently came out that GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain said that Jesus was killed by a “liberal court”.

We forget the origins of things a lot, don’t we?

The annual celebration of Columbus Day was held last week. Yes, he discovered the “New World”…but we forget that he wrote in his diary the night he hit land that “These people are very unskilled in arms...with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished.”

We forget that Thomas Jefferson had illegitimate children with his slaves.

We forget that President Jefferson also created a version of the Bible that edited the supernatural aspects of Jesus out of its pages.

We forget that our “Manifest Destiny”, or westward expansion, equaled the genocide of the Native American tribes who had been on this land for thousands of years before we arrived. (Don’t miss the fact that “Manifest Destiny” indicates God’s will that we expand across the continent – at all costs.)

We also, inexplicably, forget that our country was founded following a revolution. An insurgency. An uprising. A violent overthrow of an existing government. Now, when folks gather peacefully to protest actions the government has taken, we label them as treasonous.

From a faith standpoint, we forget that it was the establishment that killed Jesus. Jesus upset the fruit basket and the “system” didn’t like it.

I could go on and on, but this is exactly why Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of this great American experiment (the same flawed human being who participated in the sale and purchase of human flesh…the same brave rebel who dared to publicly share his own unique thoughts on religion…the same brilliant mind who drafted our Declaration of Independence) said that a revolution was necessary every few years. He said that if people didn’t seriously question the government every 20 years, then democracy was no longer working.

Because he knew things became stagnant. He knew people and systems settle over time. And when they do, they become the establishment.

Modern Christians have become Pharisees. The modern American system has become the kind of system the founders of America sought to escape.

We forget where we came from.

There was a reason the establishment killed Jesus. He made them uncomfortable. He pushed people out of their comfort zones. He required that they sacrifice of themselves for no personal gain. He demanded we put the needs and well-being of others ahead of our own. Everything about Jesus ran counter to “established” thinking.

The American founding fathers wanted something new; something different. They didn’t like taxation without representation. They wanted to separate from what they viewed as an oppressive system:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” - Declaration of Independence

Rising up against such a government was their DUTY. Something they were morally obligated to do.

Right now, in this “land of opportunity”, “unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression (with the exception of a brief blip in the early 1980s), corporate profits are at an all-time high, both in absolute dollars and as a share of the economy, wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low, income and wealth inequality in the US economy is near an all-time high, the top earners are capturing a higher share of the national income than they have any time since the 1920s, CEO pay and corporate profits have skyrocketed in the past 20 years, "production worker" pay has risen 4%, and after adjusting for inflation, average earnings haven't increased in 50 years.”

***Credit to THIS ARTICLE for that information***

The last time these things happened in America was in the 1920s…just before the Great Depression. You’d think those at the helm of “the system” would have made a mental note that when these things happen, the people stand up. Unions get formed. People march. People protest.

This nation was supposedly founded by the people and for the people. And when the table gets tilted – and it always will – there will eventually come a point where the people will realize they’ve had enough.

Yet, when the people stand up, the system will say they’re defiling the vision of the founding fathers. They’ll say the people are being unpatriotic. Nowadays, they’ll say they’re socialists.

They’ve forgotten how this American experiment was founded.

Christians have forgotten that they’re supposed to be different.

We forget where we came from. How we started.

Young people rail against the system. They shake things up. Sometimes they even change things. Then they grow up and as the great Mike Ness, of Social Distortion, says; “The day may come when you’ve got something to lose.” And when we have something to lose, we start to play it safe. Then we get comfortable. And at that moment, we become part of the system. Part of the establishment.

We do it politically. We do it spiritually. We do it socially. We do it culturally.

And it’s boring. It’s bland. It’s a sellout of what we once believed – and what I would contend most can still feel burning somewhere deep in their hearts. It’s a limiting of potential.

And it’s wrong.

Remember where and how things start. Stay true to ideals. Stay strong.

Be brave. You may have something to lose, but what an example you’ll set when you’re courageous enough to step out on what you believe to be right.

Imagine the world if more people did that.

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