Repentance means to turn around. The reluctance of refusal to face divisive racial issues needs to be turned around. The domination of one political candidate who at first was amusing but now shapes the national conversation needs to be turned around. What if we did turn things around?
What if we decided to probe into Donald Trump’s emails and see what kind of ethical and moral breaches he had made over the years in his business dealings?
What if we heard every speech live of the candidate who truly has consistently had the largest turn-outs? Bernie Sanders. What if the news media interviewed the people of Wisconsin to see why they worked so hard to gain a recall election of their governor, Scott Walker?
What if for one month we neither heard nor saw Donald Trump on TV (unless he paid for ads) nor any candidate or political reporter was asked questions about him? What if, instead, each candidate in turn, was asked about policy, covered in speeches given and events attended? I know, I know, viewer ratings would go down. But how about encouraging each to say the most radical thing they could about care for poor people, care for the earth, and care for the refugees of the world?
What if we the people were not so comfortably satisfied being spectators laughing and cheering and venting our rage while neglecting being co-operative workers in a participatory democracy? This government of the people, by the people, for the people takes hard work. Government is not “them” but “us.” What if town-hall meetings were covered by the press, town-hall meetings where locally selected leaders were chosen to set a trustworthy environment where all the people were encouraged and empowered to speak and work on real issues together. I guess they would all be called, “activists.” Maybe that would look and sound like an Iowa Caucus.
What if religious leaders were not relegated to the private sphere and people did not separate their “Sunday faith” from their faith at work in daily life all week long. What if the voices of the full range of religious leaders, not just the religious right, were sought out and heard. Oh, that’s what has been happening for the past year. When people gathered to remember and commemorate the 10th anniversary of Katrina in New Orleans, in the midst of speakers and music, was 10-15 minutes devoted to prayers led by Roman Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Vietnamese leaders and more. In Charleston and Baltimore and Ferguson and many other places religious leaders have spoken and worked in public to create communities not just of peace, but of justice. And they were interviewed by the press!
More needs to be turned around. We live in a deeply divided and dangerous time. Which direction will we turn things? The question is posed now at least once a week if not every day. When a person of color is shot will Caucasians simply retreat further into white enclaves? When a police officer is killed, will the “Black Lives Matter” movement be blamed? When people are shot in their houses of worship, will we be advised to all bring guns with us when we gather to pray?
There is a time to turn, turn, turn. There is a time to gather and listen to each other, a time for respect, a time for truth, a time to repent, a time to finally put down our guns. Surely that seems impossible. We’ve gone too far to turn back now. Guns are everywhere. But so was drunk driving, and smoking and . . .
I am tempted to believe we can’t—won’t—turn around. But we can because we have to. Only one person on her block used to recycle her plastics and bottles. Two people in a community after 9/11 started a group to have inter-faith dialog. One person in my neighborhood after the “riots” (revolutions) of the 60’s said “I ought to shoot you,” but he didn’t and we talked. Twenty people in your school . . . A hundred people in your city . . . What if we dared to turn things around? God has in Jesus Christ and God can through us today.