I'd like to talk about the following videos and articles. If you want the post that follows to make full and complete sense, please watch them and read them before you read the rest of the post.
I'm sorry. I'm sure that's a lot to digest. I know it was a lot for me. I've been haunted by these things for the past two days. It's been hard for me to continue with homework, hard for me to work with all of this weighing on my mind.
I've resisted stating my opinions on this political race for a long time. Here and there, I've scattered seeds of how it might relate to fear and love and how we ought to act. But my conscience calls me to do more. And, as Martin Luther (the monk-turned reformer) once said: "To disobey one's conscience is neither just nor safe. God help me. Amen."
I am afraid. I will tell you that truth right now. I am afraid of our fear. Fear can do horrible things, can cause horrible things. And fear leading to hatred is even worse. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said:
Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.
-Strength to Love, 1963
What I read in these articles, what I see in these videos, is fear turned to hate. I readily admit that many of the writers and videographers of these pieces are probably biased. I readily admit that I might be biased. But I cannot ignore the plain fact that the people in these articles and videos, yelling "terrorist," and "kill him," and "commie @3$*$#@" and a whole host of other things have been scared into hate.
It is the unfortunate nature of elections to divide us. But when that division turns to hate, people get hurt. I'm worried.
As a biracial child, the uncle of two beautiful quadri-racial boys (I think I just coined that term; their father is African American and Central American, their mother Chinese and Dutch) I am struggling against an overwhelming fear.
I cannot, in good conscience, support John McCain because of his lack of good judgment, and the rhetoric of his campaign. Let me clarify that I am not starry-eyed over Barack Obama either. He has made many mistakes, and told many half-lies and untruths and has said many partisan things. But the tenor of his arguments and the driving force that I see in his campaign is one of hope and not anger, calm and not strife, unifying and not dividing. Over the last few weeks, however, I have become more and more convinced that John McCain, a good man, a strong man, an honorable man, has been corrupted by his own campaign. As much as he has a right to say that he has been a maverick (and he has truly reached across the aisles and bucked the system), I think that he is no longer. The nasty politics of Washington have tainted him. More than this, I think that he lacks foresight.
I question his judgment because of what has happened recently in his campaign. Could he not have foreseen that relating Obama to a Terrorist, questioning if we know who Obama is, playing down his patriotism and calling him "that one," during the debate could lead to hate? Could he not have foreseen that using a William Ayers line of attack on a presidential candidate who is mistakenly called a muslim and whose name is often linked to a known terrorist, simply by the changing of one letter, would lead to people wondering if Obama is a terrorist, fearing him, hating him, calling for his death? Could he not have foreseen, or at least controlled the rhetoric of the people who surround him, who pray that God would protect God's honor by defeating Obama, who tangentially relate Obama to "bad guys," who "pal around with terrorists," who send smear after smear against Obama, who incite crowds by linking Obama to Osama with bombing the Pentagon? McCain, in his ads, has called on the American people to question the judgment of his opponent. It has only caused me to question McCain's.
And even though I applaud McCain for trying to tone down the rhetoric, it obviously hasn't worked, and he still, a day later, uses the same tactics. His running mate uses the same tactics. Other people in his party use the same tactics. And McCain has the audacity to mention that he doesn't want to tone down his constituents' ferocity, just ask them for more respect? It's the ferocity that scares me.
I worry for Obama and his family, and my family. In a world where racism still lives, where some jump at any chance to condemn and fear and hate and kill, I fear. I do not think that everyone is acting in fear. I do not believe that most people would kill out of hate. But it only takes a few people with a desire to kill to cause incomprehensible damage in this world.
For those of you reading this blog who are questioning who Barack Obama is, whether he is related to terrorists, whether he was actually born in the United States, whether he is secretly trying to ruin the U.S., I've collected some facts for you. If you've received a chain e-mail linking Obama to any number of questionable people and questionable things, I've covered that for you too. Here are a few links:
All of these links are to Factcheck.org, a wonderful website that has a whole host of articles that (as impartially as possible) seek to debunk lies about both candidates. Believe me, there are a lot of things that Barack Obama has said that are misleading or downright false, and FactCheck.org calls him out on them. As far as I can tell, this website (recommended by many magazines and websites, both liberal and conservative and everything in between) is trying to get to the real truth behind the half-truths and political meanderings.
I'm not asking you to vote for Barack Obama. This post is not a political endorsement of any kind. Please, follow the issues, find out what qualities you respect in a leader, make sure you really know what's going on and then vote for the candidate in whom you believe. But I am calling you to search out your own heart, to look at the rhetoric that you have been listening to, to re-read the e-mails you've probably been sent. I'm asking you to consider what those e-mails do to you, whether they make you angry and afraid. I'm asking you to try to conquer your fear, as I am trying, with love. I'm asking you to make an effort, every day, to learn the truth, and more importantly, to spread the truth. I'm asking you to stop others when they spew forth hate, about either candidate. I'm asking you to start standing up for those who have been oppressed. I'm asking you to put a stop to the downward moral and ethical spiral that seems to be taking over our nation and our world. It stops with us. It stops now. Here I stand; I can do no other; I cannot and will not recant. God Help me, Amen.