Wednesday, January 21, 2009


How do we capitalize what’s truly important, and not just choose to capitalize our stories to justify capitalizing on others’ suffering? How do we love our enemies?

Capitalized letters are hard to speak. Why is that? It's not that we just make up the capitalization, that we just grab onto something abstractly good and personify it. Myths aren't make-believe. Oftentimes they're more concrete than abstract thought (Taylor). And myths aren't just stories you choose to believe in. You don't believe it just because it is good, even if it isn't true. Capitalization works because you're only emphasizing truth that is already there.

You capitalize what's important. But so many people, myself included, all of us, we get wrong priorities. We prioritize ourselves, our existence and our dignity and our privilege. And so when we capitalize our own selves, we decide its okay to capitalize off of someone else.

Africa is amazing. But it's so true, you learn so much more about yourself. I'm glad, but I'm still waiting to learn more about Africa. That book Primal Vision keeps talking about African traditional beliefs and how they effect Africans today. But so far I see similarities more than differences. But I want to capitalize whatever is true, whether that be just African, just British, just American, or something much more complicated than all of that.

Because it's so easy just to capitalize yourself, your side of the story, your take, your cause, your suffering. But I’ve been reading Wink, who talks about how Christ's call for turning the other cheek is a call, in my own words, to capitalize both your own dignity and the injustice of your oppressor, while still also capitalizing the same dignity in that oppressor. It's loving your enemies and having the strength and courage to absorb their hate and return love, to end the cycle. Its civil rights demonstrators singing a call and answer song of Do you love _____; Yes we do, and being able to say Yes we do when the caller asks do you love Jim Crow.

I read that Obama spent time serving in memory of MLK Jr. in the time leading up to his inauguration. I saw a couple minutes of television, with people pouring into DC to see and hear him. I fell asleep last night to BBC radio commentators quoting and responding and questioning and applauding his words. I’ve read his words, his speech.

I told my mother in an email how I cried. I love my country, and I love this world, but sometimes I have so much fear, both of and for us. I’ll try and post an actual response to the speech in my other blog, but basically, what it comes down to is I heard Obama say that man’s got the answer, going with all the humanist secular eschatologies trying to get the world to believe the history of the world is a history of progress (Plant). In Obama’s assurance to the world of our return to ideals and rejection of a choice between safety and our ideals, I was alarmed to hear the assumption that we don’t have to sometimes sacrifice safety for our ideals (Obama).

But I’ll leave that for then. The question for this, now, was what we should capitalize, how do we choose between ourselves and others? I have hope that there is the option of capitalizing both ourselves and others. I have hope that there is a third way, neither passive flight and allowing of injustice, nor that never-ending cycle of fight that never leaves a winner, but only survivors.

And I have hope that, as the philosophers BEP put it, we can realize that “if you only have love for your own race than you only leave space to discriminate…man you gotta have love to set it straight…” Maybe then Christians can answer them YES to “will you practice what you preach? Will you turn the other cheek?...where is the love?...if loving people is so strong, why are so many pieces of love going so wrong?”

Links, Sources
- Taylor, John, The Primal Vision, (Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1963). He worked in Uganda from I think 1958-1964, as many African countries got independence.
- Plant, Stephen, Freedom as Development: Christian Mission and the Definition of Human Well-Being, (Wesley House: Cambridge, ?). he’s the guy that talks about secular eschatology. Interesting stuff.
- I got the text from the NYTimes transcript, where Obama says on the second page “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals…Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

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