The Darkness Did Not Overcome It

When we love one another, when we do justice for our neighbors, when we care for the poor and oppressed, when we feed the hungry, when we give drink to the thirsty, when we clothe the naked, when we visit the prisoner, and when we welcome the stranger; we participate fully in the resurrection of the love and justice of Jesus.

When we hate one another, when we commit injustice against others, when we oppress the poor and vulnerable, when we ignore the naked, hungry, the thirsty, the prisoner, and the stranger; we participate in the hate, violence, and injustice that executed Jesus and has brought suffering and death to so many through the ages.

The continued resurrection of the way of Jesus is empowered by the people who continue to live out the way of love and justice in this world, while the ways of death are perpetuated by those who seek their own power and prestige to the detriment and destruction of the most vulnerable among us.

Our lives provide us with a choice of whether we will side with the ongoing resurrection of life, love, and justice in this world or become complicit in the ways of hate, fear, violence, injustice, and death. Those who have chosen the latter keep trying to kill the way of love and justice in this world, but it won’t go away because it is alive in the resurrected Beloved Community that keeps seeking ways to overcome the ways of death in this world.

Even if we lose our lives in the struggle for love and justice like Jesus did and like John the Baptizer did before him and like many others throughout human history have, our lives and work will be taken up and will continue to live in the Beloved Community of all who seek love and justice for all of our neighbors. Perhaps this is what is meant by the communion of the saints. All of the love and justice that has been brought into the world by all people from all times and places will forever be a part of the world and continue to urge it on towards a more Beloved Community.

In times that are dark and full of fear, hatred, and violence; it is important to remember that the forces of evil in days, years, and centuries past often thought they had the last word, only to see that love and justice have a way of not being fully overcome by the darkness and continuing to live on.

In Jesus’ time, King Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptizer resurrected whom Herod imprisoned for speaking truth to power and whom Herod beheaded so as not lose face with those whom he considered more important than John. I think Herod was more right than wrong in his assessment that Jesus was the John the Baptizer resurrected. All that John the Baptizer had done to prepare the way for Jesus through John’s radical message of love, justice, and repentance led to Jesus being baptized by John. All of John’s work and love was fully present and fully alive in Jesus even after John was killed. Like John, when Jesus spoke truth to power, he was also arrested and executed. In a very real way, all of the love and justice that Jesus lived, practiced, and taught as he prepared the way for those to follow is resurrected, fully present, and fully alive in the Beloved Community working for love and justice in our world today. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5), and the darkness will not overcome it.

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Criminal President

Our current president recently mused on Twitter that his meeting with Vladimir Putin might be easier than his meeting with NATO leaders. In other words, he is more at ease meeting with an international criminal who has illegally annexed Crimea, murdered political opponents and journalists, and meddled in our elections and in elections across Europe than he is meeting with democratically elected leaders of our long-standing allies who are members of an alliance that has contributed to over 70 years of relative stability in Europe and the North Atlantic.

There is a very simple reason that our current president is more comfortable talking with world leaders who are international criminals like Putin, Kim, and Duterte. He is one of the them. They are his people.

We have to come to terms with the reality that our president is not just immoral, not just a liar, not just mean, not just vulgar, not just a racist, and not just a narcissist. Our president is a criminal, and the evidence may yet show that he is a treasonous criminal.

Our president is alienating our allies through tariffs, tweets, and trade wars while propping up international criminals through his praise and policies. Our president saves his most critical words and actions for the leaders of Canada and Germany while giving compliments and cover to dictators and despots. Perhaps he knows they won’t point out his human rights violations if he doesn’t point out theirs. Over and over again, he shows himself to be more at ease among criminals than he is among our allies.

We don’t even need to wait for the Mueller report to be completed to know that our current president is a criminal. We have over 2000 children forcibly separated from their parents at our borders as evidence of this president’s criminality.

Federal law categorizes kidnapping as a serious felony offense with a prison sentence of 20 or more years. In a just society; Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, John Kelly, Kirstjen Nielsen, Stephen Miller, and the Director of ICE would be serving 20 or more years in prison for kidnapping. The only reason they are not being prosecuted is that they currently control the definition and enforcement of law, but an unjust law is no law at all, and unjust enforcement of unjust laws is in and of itself criminal.

Why is Congress failing in its constitutional duty to impeach and convict the President of the United States for over 2000 counts of felony kidnapping? What is being done to children at our border is precisely that – state sponsored and state implemented kidnapping, and it is being used to intimidate immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, with the effect of long-lasting trauma in families and children.

When the United Nations Human Rights Commission rightly called out the United States for these crimes against humanity, the United States quickly removed itself from participation in the UN Human Rights Commission citing its bias against Israel, but the timing points clearly to the Commission’s criticism of our human rights violations as the main factor in our exit. As we withdrew from the Commission, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley cited the hypocrisy of the member states of the Human Rights Commission in what may have been the most hypocritical speech ever given by a U.S. Ambassador.

Kidnapping of children, coddling of criminal leaders, hostile actions towards friends and allies, and the propping up of our foes. This is not just a coincidence or passing phase, this is the reality of life under a criminal president, and it is time the people make a citizens’ arrest if Congress is unwilling to do its duty.

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Hardened Hearts

hardened heart

What we are seeing in our country and in our world today is not new but rather a refrain of a recurring phenomenon in human history and one that is often portrayed in our sacred literature. When new things are breaking into the world, there is a tendency for many persons’ hearts to be hardened. Fear of change and a feeling of loss of power are likely the greatest reasons for the hardening of the heart. In Exodus, the Hebrew Bible portrays Pharaoh’s heart as hardened when confronted with the prospect of Israel’s liberation, and the people of Israel’s hearts were hardened in the wilderness when they feared they had lost their way. In the Christian Bible Jesus wondered aloud if the disciples hearts were hardened when they feared they had no bread (Mark 8:17). In both the Hebrew Bible and in the Christian Bible, hardened hearts are portrayed as a barrier to the healing of relationships with God and other people. Proverbs warns that a hardened heart will lead people to calamity (Proverbs 28:14). In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul warned that our hardened hearts are a way of storing up wrath for ourselves (Romans 2:5).

In our country’s past we hardened our hearts against our indigenous neighbors as we ripped away their land and culture and committed genocide against them; we hardened our hearts against our African American neighbors as we enslaved, segregated, lynched, imprisoned, and committed violence against them; we hardened our hearts when we turned away Jewish refugees fleeing Germany and Europe prior to our entry into World War II; we hardened our hearts against our Japanese American neighbors as we tore them from their homes and livelihoods and put them in internment camps; we hardened our hearts against our immigrant and refugee neighbors (especially those who are not white and not Christian) as we turn them away, deport them, separate their children from them, and as we ban them based upon their religious affiliation; we hardened our hearts against our women neighbors as have treated them unequally, paid them less, and objectified them; we have hardened our hearts against our LGBTQ+ neighbors as we have rejected them, physically and spiritually bullied them, and driven many of them to seek escape from their pain through suicide; we hardened our hearts against our non-human animal neighbors as we have forced them into concentrated animal feed operations and made their lives miserable until we butcher them for the fast food meals that are good neither for our bodies nor for our souls; and we have even hardened our hearts to future generations as they will inherit the climate chaos that we are creating for them.

Today in the United States we are experiencing another wave of heart hardening as white Christians (especially white Christian men) fear their loss of control in our country. This hardening of the heart is expressed in the guise of faith and patriotism, but it is hardening of the heart nonetheless. If our hearts could be softened, it would open us to new possibilities and relationships with one another in a richly diverse community in which we care for all people and the planet instead of experiencing the increased fear and hatred that comes with a hardened heart.

Our hearts have been softened in the past as we continue to recognize and repent from the evil we committed against our indigenous sisters and brothers, as we rejected slavery and Jim Crow, as we created women’s suffrage and expanded the protection of women’s rights, as we lamented and repented from the internment of Japanese Americans, as we reached out and cooperated with our friends who relate to religion differently, as we embraced marriage equality, and as we have worked to care for our environment.

If our hearts continue to be hardened, much of what we have gained in the new relationships and communities made possible by a softened heart could all be lost, and that would be the most tragic calamity of our time. May our hearts not continue to be hardened, and may we all do the hard but life transforming work of softening our hearts for the creation of Beloved Community.

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Fourth of July Repentance

American-flag-upside-down

We can never make right what has been done to our indigenous siblings on this land, but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that was done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for our indigenous neighbors. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject the genocide upon which this nation was built and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace. and justice among all members of the human family on this stolen land.

We can never make right what has been done to our siblings from Africa who were separated from their families, forced from their homelands, shipped in shackles to this continent, and forced to work in slavery subject to the constant threat and reality of rape, torture, and execution; but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for our African American neighbors. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we fully recognize and reject the human slavery and human misery upon which our nation was built and that continues to be expressed in the systemic racism of our culture today and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice among all members of the human family within this deeply racist land

We can never make right what has been done to our sisters on this land who for much of the history of this country were treated more like the property of men than as full and whole human beings, who did not even have the right to vote until 1920, and who still experience economic, social, and political inequality; but we we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for all women. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject the misogyny upon which this nation was built and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice for all women within this deeply sexist land.

We can never make right was done to immigrants on this land who have been exploited for economic gain, who often work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions without basic benefits and under the constant threat of deportation; but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for all persons who are immigrants. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject the xenophobia upon which the nation was built and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice for all immigrants in this deeply xenophobic land.

We can never make right has been done to persons who are LGBTQ+ on this land, who for most of its existence had to hide their sexual orientation or gender orientation from the community around them, who have been ostracized and bullied, and many of whom suffer from depression because of rejection by family, friends, and churches; but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for all people no matter what their sexual or gender orientation might be. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject the way persons who are LGBTQ+ have been treated and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice for all in this deeply heterosexist and cisgender biased land.

We can never make right the great violence that has been done to so many people on this land. We are violent nation whose very birth came through violent revolution. We have committed the violence of genocide, the violence of slavery, the violence of a civil war and wars abroad, high rates of gun violence, and ongoing systemic violence against persons of color. We can never make it right for all who have suffered from this violence, but we will never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work to establish non-violent human community on this land. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject our over reliance on violence and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice in this deeply violent land.

We can never make right the ecological devastation that has been done to this land, the destruction of once great forests, the decimation of the great Bison, the extinction of species, the pollution of air and waterways, and now what is becoming catastrophic climate change; but we will never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for all life on this land. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject our exploitation of our ecological community and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice with all life in this deeply human centered land.

If we look straight into the eyes of the evil of our past and present, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for meaningful justice for our human and ecological communities; we will not allow ourselves to continue to go down the path of Muslim bans, children being separated from their parents at our borders, denial of the climate crisis, and isolating ourselves from our neighbors around the world. If we do this hard work together, we will repent from what we have been and turn towards what need to become for the world today – a land of responsible freedom and justice for all. This would be a land that we could all truly celebrate together as one.

 

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A World Loving Religion

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A sermon delivered at First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City on Sunday, June 24, 2018. Sermon Audio: This-Worldly Religion: A World Loving Religion

In his sociological studies of religion, the late 19th and early 20th century German sociologist Max Weber identified two different expressions of religions that he referred to as other-worldly religion and inner-worldly religion. Other worldly religion he saw as focusing on salvation as happening in another world beyond the empirical world of current existence. Other-worldly religion focuses on escape from this world. It focuses on heaven more than it focuses on earth, or in some cases it simply focuses on escaping the suffering of this world in various ways. The other type of religious expression that Max Weber identified, inner-worldly religion, or sometimes called this-worldly religion, sees the world in which we live as the primary location for religious expression. The focus of this-worldly religion is a focus of transforming the world in which we live and on transforming ourselves within this world. Persons who express a this-worldly form of religion do not necessarily reject another world, but their primary focus is on religious expression in relation to life in this world rather than that which happens beyond this life.

The philosopher Karl Marx was not the only one to recognize that there has been a tendency for those who are benefitting from the social, economic, and political status quo to use people’s adherence to other-worldly expressions of religion to keep them in their place and to keep them for trying to bring about change in the world, and especially to keep them from bringing about revolutionary change in the world. From this perspective, those with power in this world can maintain control of the affairs of this world, while religion prepares the soul for the next. Obedience to the way things are in this life becomes one of the prerequisites for enjoying the rewards and avoiding the punishments in the next. If workers or the masses simply stay in their place, work hard, and do their duty in this world, they will experience their reward in the other world beyond this one.  If you simply obey the law and the powers that be in this world, you will find eternal reward in the next. This is the kind of religion and the kind of use of religion that Karl Marx so famously referred to as the “opiate of the people.” It is a religion that may provide some comfort to the oppressed, but it also numbs them to point of not fully recognizing, rejecting, and transforming the powers and systems that oppress them.

In many ways this other-worldly expression of religion is what is most dominant within our country. An other-worldly religion is often used to support the economic and political status quo of our country. The United States is one of the most religious countries in the world and is second to none in the total amount of wealth it possesses. Some might see our wealth as a blessing that is in some way connected to our religiosity, but something is deeply wrong with our prevailing religious beliefs and practices when they support social, political, and economic systems that have led to one of the least accessible healthcare systems in the industrialized world, the highest incarceration rate on the planetdeeply embedded and systemic racism, high poverty rates and extreme income inequality, a disintegrating public education system, a crumbling public infrastructure, an entrenched military industrial complex, unprecedented gun violencehigh rates of scientific illiteracy, and the highest levels of climate science denial in the world. Within the United States, the more religious the state, the more likely the poverty rates and incarceration rates are high, environmental protection is lax, and access to quality healthcare and education is low.

Religious organizations and religious persons who ignore these challenges and simply focus on their reward in heaven are betraying both people and the planet; and for persons in theistic traditions, this is also a betrayal of God and God’s creation. In the Christian tradition, Matthew 25 calls on Christians to feed the hungry, provide drink for the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. In contrast, much of Christianity in the United States is supporting systems and structures that are contributing to more hunger, less protection of clean water, more poverty, more hostility to the stranger, less access to healthcare, more people in prison, catastrophic climate change, and the sixth great extinction on the planet. That can’t be anything close to what Matthew’s Jesus was teaching.

There is an other-worldly focus in much of American Christianity that lifts up the importance of life after death over how we are treating each other and the earth in this life. The challenges of hunger, access to clean water, incarceration, immigration, healthcare, education, violence, and environmental protection are left to the economics and politics of this world, while religion focuses primarily on the next. The result is that our religious obsession with another world is contributing to the creation of a hell on this one.

In addition to a focus on life after death rather than life before death, many religious persons in the United States (41% according to a 2010 Pew Research poll) believe that the end of the world as we know it will happen before 2050. It is difficult to be motivated to take on systematic efforts to make life better in this world when one truly believes it is all coming to an end within the next 32 years. Worse yet, many not only believe that the world is going to end soon, but some look forward to it so much that they are actively attempting to expedite the process of that event occurring. For our society to make the turn it must take to save this world and not just save our souls for the next, we will need to take life in this world at least as seriously as we do life in the next, or risk humanity losing this world forever. No matter what one believes about life after death or the possibility of another world beyond this one, let us not create a hell on earth for heaven’s sake.

I suggest that what we need to face the challenges of world today, what we need to create more flourishing human communities and more flourishing ecological communities, are religious expressions, or more simply put human expressions of love and justice that focus on loving and transforming this world rather than seeking escape to the next. We need a this-worldly religion that brings good news to the poor and to the oppressed. We need a religion that loves this world. When we truly love this world, when we truly seek justice in this world, we will no longer tolerate economic systems that create vast chasms between the teeming masses of poor and the towers of power and wealth of the rich. We will no longer tolerate practices that lead to irreversible climate change and the sixth great extinction on our planet. We will no longer tolerate ripping away the safety net for the most vulnerable among us. We will no longer tolerate spending more on war than we spend on peace. We will no longer tolerate treating immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers like animals; and we sure as hell would never tolerate ripping children away from their parents at our borders and putting the children and babies in detention centers where their cries and wailing have become orchestras of suffering and long lasting if not life lasting trauma.

A religion that loves this world, people who love this world, will not listen to government officials who say that God has ordained the government and who tell them that it is godly to obey laws that rip children away from parents. There is nothing Godly, there is nothing loving, there is nothing just, there is nothing right, there is nothing beneficial, there is nothing necessary about ripping children away from their parents. Nothing, not one thing. A religion that loves this world, people who love this world, people who love people and who seek justice will not obey policies like this. They will see these policies and actions for what they are, and what they are is evil, and a religion that loves this world, people who love this world will resist them with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. Amen.

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Never “Great Again”

One extremely painful aspect of last week (though nothing compared to the pain of separated families) is that many of us realized that people we thought we knew are not the people we thought we knew. When you discover that people you thought you knew are okay with separating children from their parents and putting them in cages, it is not like you can just say “okay, I can bracket that off and still be their friends.” When people you thought you knew accept brown babies and brown children in detention camps, it changes everything. How do you have high school reunions with people who accept ripping children away from their parents and putting them in detention camps? How do you sit in the pews with persons who are glad that our president is “fulfilling his promises and finally doing what needs to be done”? How can you share Thanksgiving meals with persons who seem to be thankful that children are being separated from their parents and who are thankful for a president who lies relentlessly about immigrants and refugees and who refers to immigrants as “animals” who are “infesting” our country? We thought we knew you, but we didn’t really know you. Now we know you, and it changes everything.

We cannot pretend, however, that the evil of the past few weeks has arisen in a vacuum. It is part of a long history of cruelty, oppression, and racism in our country. The separation of families and detention of children are perhaps causing many people to be more fully aware of a reality that has long been known by persons of color and women: America can never be “great again” because we have never been great.

Those who are enthralled with the mantra of “Make America Great Again” have taken us far down the path of making America openly and sadistically cruel again for the sake of clinging to the very white supremacy and racism that has kept us from ever being great in the first place. America has an enduring myth of greatness, but true greatness can never be built with the materials of conquest, slavery, domination, suffering, and exploitation of people and the planet that is constructed on a foundation of gross and violent injustice.

After the European conquest, America was never great for the indigenous people who were killed by the millions through genocide, displaced from their lands, separated from their families, and whose culture and people were systematically exterminated in America’s search for greatness built on violent injustice. America will never be “great again” for our indigenous sisters and brothers unless we are speaking of a greatness experienced before European contact before America was even known by that name.

America was never great for the people of African descent who were shipped here in chains, many dying on the journey, sold into slavery, separated from their families, raped by their evil slaveholders, and tortured and killed if they resisted or sought their freedom. Even after America fought a civil war and ended the institution of slavery, the law of the land still enabled the systematic oppression of African Americans through economic exploitation, incarceration, widespread and frequent lynching, and state sponsored and enforced inequality. America can never be “great again” for our African American sisters and brothers because for them it was never great.

America was never great for women who were basically treated as the property of men for much of American history, who could not even vote until 1921, who even today get paid less than men for the same work, who are exploited by men in positions of power, and who endure sexual harassment and assault and having their genitalia grabbed by a man who still becomes President of the United States even after being publicly exposed for bragging about it. America can never be “great again” for women, especially women of color, because for them it was never great.

Today persons who are LGBTQ+ are just beginning to share equal rights under the law that those who want to make America “great again” would like to see stripped away. For most of American history, persons who are LGBTQ+ have been discriminated against, bullied, shunned, mocked, and often attacked violently. America can never be “great again” for our siblings who are LGBTQ+ because for them America has never been great.

For most of American history, those who were white Protestant Christians have experienced a favored status within our society. Up until recently, Roman Catholics were often openly discriminated against by the Protestant majority. Other racial and religious minorities have been more or less tolerated depending on time and place, but we are a country that turned away ships of Jewish refugees during WWII, that put Japanese Americans in internment camps, that exploits the cheap labor of immigrants, and that elected a president who called for a ban on all Muslims and ignores violent actions of non-Muslims while beating the drum of Islamophobia by highlighting any violent act committed by a person who is Muslim. America will never be “great again” for persons who are from racial or religious minority groups or for persons who have no religion at all because for them it was never great.

In the context of American history, the evil that we have seen in the past few weeks is not an isolated incident, but rather another strand of violent injustice woven into the cruel tapestry of what America has been and continues to be. Yes, we have had some great moments in our history – we ended slavery, women gained the vote and other significant rights, civil rights legislation was passed, marriage equality was made the law of the land, and we even helped the world defeat fascism, which is ironic given that our current president and his followers are supporting the 21st Century offspring of 20th Century fascism across Europe and the United States. We have had some great moments, but we have never truly been great. For the most part we haven’t even been good.

In a time when we once again are actively building our society on a foundation of violent injustice based in hate and fear, when we are horrified by friends and neighbors supporting holding children in detention centers at our borders; it may be helpful to remember that other countries have made it through periods of intense injustice and found ways to survive and work for reconciliation, and we will likely need to learn from their experiences. It will not be easy, and it will take collective reflection and repentance. Our friends in South Africa will have something to teach us in relation to coming to terms with our truth in order to move towards some type of reconciliation.

I hope will get to a point where that will be possible some day, but it will never be possible as long as our current president is in office, and it will not happen by simply forgetting that millions of Americans support a regime that dehumanizes entire groups of people and uses the instruments of hate and fear to gain, maintain, and expand its power. Reconciliation will only be possible if we can face the truth of what we have become and the truth of what we are doing, and our president has no concern with the truth. His presidency is the Big Lie. Hopefully there will come a day of reconciliation for our country, but when millions of people are willing to support a president who separates children of all ages from their parents and puts them in cages, the focus now must be on resistance.

America can never be “great again,” but if we do not resist the current evil in our land, we may very well become openly cruel, unjust, and even genocidal again. We can never be “great again,” but if all good and decent persons work together, perhaps someday we can hope to finally be good.

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When Will We Ever Learn?

Here in the United States, we have been reminded in the last couple of weeks that resistance to evil is a moral imperative and can be at least partially effective. We have also learned that about 27% of our country and 55% of Republicans are okay with separating children of all ages from their parents at our borders and putting the children in detention centers. One wonders what line of immorality would have to be crossed before the 27% of us who are okay with children in detention camps would disagree with the actions of our president. Whatever that line may be, if there is one, it apparently has not been crossed for the 27% who support separating families.

Perhaps even more grim for our country is the fact that even though 27% say they support the president’s policy of ripping children away from their families at our borders, the current president’s overall approval rating has not declined, and in the case of one poll, the Gallup Poll, the president’s approval rating was higher than it has been at any other point in time during his presidency at 45%, and this was at the height of the public attention on our president violating international law and international standards on human rights at our borders. So we know that only 27% of Americans approve of brown babies in cages, but a full 45% will still support a president who created such policies that led to the creation of “tender age” detention camps with “orchestras” of crying and wailing children. Good for them for disagreeing with the president about the tortuous treatment of children and families, but one still must wonder what line of immorality this president will have to cross before this 45% of all Americans will withdraw their approval of our current president. Whatever that line may be, if there is one, it apparently has not been crossed for the 45% who still support a president who separates families, refers to immigrants as “animals” and claims Democrats want immigrants to “infest our country.”

The president’s approval rating is not much less overall than it was when he was elected President of the United States of America. If you are a Democrat or a progressive or even moderate independent who does not believe the Republicans can win in 2018 and that our current president can win in 2020, it is time to wake up. 45% of the American people are willing to tell someone on the phone that they approve of a president who belongs in the International Criminal Court at the Hague rather than sitting in the Oval Office. Who knows how many more support him who are unwilling to admit this fact to a stranger on the phone?

All that is needed for Republicans to win in 2018 and for our current president to win in 2020 is for Democrats and progressive and moderate independents to allow themselves to be divided like they were in 2016, and I still see too many Clinton and Sanders supporters going after each other on social media and elsewhere to be confident this division will not happen again, though I hope with my whole being that it will not. If it does happen again, and this Republican Party and this president triumph in 2018 and 2020, we may look back on babies in cages as being mild in comparison to what the future may hold.

We have learned a lot about ourselves and what kind of country we are in the last few years and especially in the last few weeks, but if those of us who don’t think families should be separated, who don’t think immigrants and refugees are infesting our country, and who don’t support gross human rights violations allow ourselves to be divided in 2018 and 2020, we may end up asking ourselves, “When will we ever learn?”

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