Dear President Trump:
Today’s Daily Lectionary readings are about amending our ways.
In the Old Testament reading, God promises to dwell with the people if you “amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood.” (Jeremiah 7:5-6) In the Gospel reading, Jesus tries to get the religious leaders to amend their rigid and ungracious ways of thinking and acting. (John 7:23)
This past fall I had the privilege of serving as a member of the Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Healing Design Team. The diverse members of this team – including African American, Native American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic and European American – were tasked with articulating a vision of what racial healing would look like for this nation. Here’s an excerpt:
We imagine an America where all people are seen through the lens of our common humanity and we see ourselves in one another. This new society is characterized by love,interconnectedness, mutual respect, accountability, empathy, honoring nature and care for the environment. In this society, healing and justice flow from authentic relationships.
Our children and grandchildren feel safe and secure in who they are and proud of their heritage and culture. They are able to look within themselves and to their communities to find their identity; they recognize and value the differences inherent in all of us, while celebrating the common threads that bind us all together.
Schools are well funded and recognize that all children have a sacred gift and purpose; they offer early education in the child’s own language. Libraries and museums reflect the rich heritage and stories of every group, told from the perspective of each group. Memorials serve as a reminder of suffering but also the effort and strength that emerged from it. We no longer carry the pain, fear and shame of history, for we have discovered how to look at our past with courage and honesty. Places of worship celebrate diversity and work actively to cultivate equitable empowering life in their communities. Parks and public spaces are accessible to all. Our financial system focuses on supporting the health and welfare of communities. In responding to those who do us harm, our justice system reflects a focus on restorative rather than punitive justice. In jettisoning the belief in a hierarchy of human value based on race, we have also eliminated a hierarchy based on class, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation and ability.
Mr. President, will you help move this nation in a new way toward such a vision?
J. Daryl Byler