Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Little bit of Clarity

Sometimes I feel like I am living in a sort of fog.  I feel discontent and confused especially since the election and watching the chaos that is coming out of the white house.

Yesterday I watched a documentary on Netflix that helped a little bit.  It is called Get Me Roger Stone and it was fascinating.

It is described as a " documentary exploring the life and career of notorious Republican dirty trickster and longtime Trump advisor, Roger Stone, who helped create the real-estate mogul's political career."

What was helpful to me was that this documentary delineated the values that he espoused throughout his life.  He talked about in 6th grade learning the power of "disinformation."  He was present during  Watergate  and  cared  about winning at any cost.  Nixon is his hero and he even has his a tattoo of his face on his back!
He and his partners - Paul Manafort and Charlie Black  - formed a political consulting firm that was instrumental in electing Ronald Reagan.  Afterwards they were lobbyists for Marcos and the Congolese dictator Sese Seko. There was no concern about morality or ethics - only the making of money.
Roger Stone is a fighter and his response to attacks it to attack back and when confronted with accusations his first response is to deny, deny, deny.  He has a whole political history of dirty tricks and cruel innuendos in which he "promoted a number of falsehoods and conspiracy theories."  Finally, there was no respect for the idea of service to others - he thought those people were chumps.

He has been friends with our president for years and encouraged him to run for president for decades.  His values and Trumps seem similar - the fighting back, the denials, the lying, the grandiosity.

It is, of course, easy to point to Roger Stone with disgust and revulsion.  Yet on reflection I realize that it may be that they are almost an exaggeration of the  values of the culture that we are all living in.  We are breathing the air that says that we must compete,  win at all costs,  the material is most important,  we must be ambitious and defend ourselves.

Where the clarity came for me was in conversation afterward. What I realized is that these values are diametrically opposed to the way of Jesus.  Our spiritual seeking leads us into a path of:
 - humility
 - truth
 - compassion
 - service to others
 - unity
 - reflection
 - love
 - forgiveness
 - grace

And how does that happen?  There is, of course, choices that we make but much of our path is about grace.  The pre venient grace that came before we were even born for many of us.  We were blessed to be born into homes that  lived these values and to grow up in a community that taught us about that alternative way of life.  But the choice remains always.  We are surrounded by people and media that promote comparing, competing, division, and materialism. And in our pride and unconsciousness it is so easy to point fingers at the Roger Stones of the world and miss the ways in which we can easily fall into all of those behaviors. It is easy to live in scarcity rather than abundance, it is easy to worry about our security and not other people's needs, it is easy to be a taker rather than a giver.

So, I begin this day in prayer and praying the spirit will guide me to seek "The Way" that really leads to peace.  Here is a wonderful prayer by Walter Brueggemann:

You are the giver of all good things.
All good things are sent from heaven above,
rain and sun,
day and night,
justice and righteousness,
bread to the eater and
seed to the sower,
peace to the old,
energy to the young,
joy to the babes.
We are takers, who take from you,
day by day, daily bread,
taking all we need as you supply,
taking in gratitude and wonder and joy.
And then taking more,
taking more than we need,
taking more than you give us,
taking from our sisters and brothers,
taking from the poor and the weak,
taking because we are frightened, and so greedy,
taking because we are anxious, and so fearful,
taking because we are driven, and so uncaring.
Give us peace beyond our fear, and so end our greed.
Give us well-being beyond our anxiety, and so end our fear.
Give us abundance beyond our drivenness,
and so end our uncaring.
Turn our taking into giving … since we are in your giving image:
Make us giving like you,
giving gladly and not taking,
giving in abundance, not taking,
giving in joy, not taking,
giving as he gave himself up for us all,
giving, never taking. Amen.


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