"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Open Apology to Conservatives

Arrested for a McCain T shirt
I want to apologize personally to the many conservatives who are frightened by the video of a man arrested on election eve for wearing a McCain T shirt to an Obama celebration in South Philadelphia. I would be frightened too, if I were in your shoes. Even those conservatives who do not buy into the radical version of the Biblical End Times may have raised an eyebrow at this apparent fulfillment of the prophecy that Christians will be arrested as a first step.

If this video were only as it appears to be, it would be a travesty. However, if you watch the longer version it becomes clear that the young man set up the situation intentionally and exacerbated it by wearing a toy dagger protruding from the back of his T shirt. Also note that Philadelphia has a history of street violence such that police had reason to be nervous as crowds filled the streets.

Mutual fear
Nevertheless, this incident is most unfortunate and bespeaks a deeper issue--the fear of each other by many liberals and conservatives. Many postmodern liberals treat conservatives with a disdain that conservatives have every right to be offended by. I know because I was one of those postmoderns (though never with the label of liberal; see Why I am a Recovering Libertarian.) First I lumped all conservatives together--not noticing the huge range in intellectual, ethical, and theological orientation. And then I thought that anyone who took the Bible literally was either ignorant or immature. But when circumstances dropped me into an unusual fundamentalist church, my experience actually living among the fundamentalists for two years changed all that. I came to respect their love and their passionate committment to a better world for all through what they called "The Kingdom of God."

Of course, many of my friends have had very different experiences with orthodox Christian churches. A gentle friend told me yesterday how for her, the fear has lifted for the first time in her life since the election. "It took me several days to feel the full effect as I found myself walking taller," this older woman said. She has spent many years in personal and spiritual growth work learning forgiveness and nonjudgment for her rigid Christian upbringing. I truly believe if she had been there that night, she would have reached out an arm to the young man with the T shirt and invited him to join the party--her and female partner.

What will it take for all of us to move to this kind of reponse to each other?