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What is really happening in Venezuela?


by: on April 17th, 2019 | 4 Comments »

Plaza Bolivar in Caracas, Venezuela

I just returned from 11 days in Venezuela, my sixth trip there since 2005.

Many people have asked me how they can understand what’s really happening in Venezuela based on information from public institutions such as the U.S. government and the mainstream media. Sources they have used include television ranging from Fox News to MSNBC and CNN; newspapers from the New York Times to more “progressive” publications; and radio from private ad-based to public listener-supported stations.

In order to analyze information today and in the future, there are three key points that most people in the United States and in Venezuela can agree on.

1 – No war. Even Venezuelans who did not vote for Nicolás Maduro do not want to be bombed or invaded. Ironically, the threat of military intervention has increased national pride and unity among Venezuelans. Many friends were worried for my safety and the safety of the 12-member delegation. After arriving I felt safer than I expected, and my main fear was about what the United States (my own country, that I love in so many ways) might do. Even in the U.S., most people do not want another Vietnam, or another Libya or Syria.

2 – End U.S. sanctions. Sanctions are a form of economic warfare. Sanctions kill, and children are primary victims. Food and medicines are greatly affected. Sanctions impede the ability of Venezuela – and other countries – to solve their own problems; and unilateral sanctions are out-of-line with the United Nations Charter.

3 – Respect other nations’ sovereignty. Both Venezuelans and people in the U.S. question the credibility of the U.S. government regarding its harsh critiques of Venezuela. The wealthiest country the world has ever known, the United States, has suffered from a growing gap between rich and poor, and from deteriorating schools, non-existent free neighborhood healthcare centers, infant mortality, high incarceration rates, and unjustified killings by police, along with questionable elections of public officials who could potentially solve those problems.

There are two additional facts: the U.S. cannot be the boss of the world, and recent “help” from the U.S. does not always help the people of the world. Other nations are letting us know this, more and more. When we are faced with Washington speeches and media pieces, we can keep these three key points and two additional facts in mind.

* * *

The answers to other questions were also revealed throughout my trip.

Why are the U.S. powers-that-be – both Republicans and Democrats – focused on Venezuela? The biggest reason is not oil. (Remember prior interference in non-oil-rich Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, Grenada, Chile, and others.) The problem is that Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998, more than 20 years after the oil industry was nationalized in 1976, and he began to share the wealth with all Venezuelans, not just the already rich. Hugo Chávez led an electoral revolution and then he empowered Venezuelans through literacy programs, neighborhood healthcare centers, and a new constitution designed with citizen participation. Also, like the Venezuelan liberator Simón Bolívar 200 years before, Chávez spread empowerment across Latin America, and beyond, by creating institutions to counterbalance the enormous economic, cultural and political influence of the U.S.

Another disturbing reason is that because the U.S. still uses the obsolete, slavery-based Electoral College, neither Democrats nor Republicans want to alienate a group of swing voters in the swing state of Florida: upper-income Venezuelans who moved there and who organize with hard-line Cuban-Americans.

What was the most encouraging part of my trip to Venezuela? An increased appreciation of the strength of the Venezuelan people. They know from history, both recent and centuries ago, that they can prevail, and they are prevailing now. The self-proclaimed presidency of Juan Guaidó has not taken hold. The vast majority, even those who did not vote for him in May 2018, recognize that Nicolás Maduro is the legitimately elected President, and they know that most other countries – especially outside of North America and Europe – stand with them in recognizing Maduro’s administration. Which reminds me…

What are some key signs that predict U.S. intentions to interfere in a nation’s sovereignty? One sign is using the word “regime” rather than “presidency” or “administration.” Do we refer to Theresa May’s regime? Obama’s regime? Another key sign is using the term “humanitarian crisis” followed by offering “humanitarian aid” that even the International Red Cross and the United Nations recognized as politicized rather than helpful.

In closing, Venezuela is a sovereign nation whose people have experienced improved education, healthcare, and housing. Venezuelans have stayed strong, despite power outages and water shortages, despite sanctions and threats, all of which I experienced during the delegation. They want peace not war, an end to sanctions, and respect for their sovereignty so they have the means to address their own challenges.

Laura Wells blogs about the electoral and social revolutions in Latin America, and how they might apply to California and the United States. She is a Green Party political activist. For a “go to resource” on Venezuela, see venezuelanalysis.com.

Interdependence in Action: How to Change Agreements with Care


by: on November 28th, 2018 | Comments Off

In 2004, a few days into the first of four week-long retreats of a yearlong program I was co-leading, one participant, who I will call Barbara, informed the program leaders that she was intending to leave the program after the first retreat, because it wasn’t what she had signed up for. To her surprise, we asked her to engage with the whole group about her decision before finalizing it. Barbara, who had lived in many cultures and came from a community-based tradition, quickly recognized the reality that her leaving would have an impact on the whole group, and thus accepted the challenge and invitation to engage in this process.

We then brought the topic to the group. Barbara laid out her needs that were not attended to within the program; other people brought up their needs and the impact of her potentially leaving and not coming back after that retreat. We’d been in process for a while when one woman exclaimed, in utter incredulity: “Wait a minute, but it’s her decision!” We replied: “No, if you take interdependence seriously, it’s not her decision alone to make.” The woman remained stunned, and we continued the process. At the end, we reached shared clarity that what it would take to attend to Barbara’s needs would stretch the program and the group too much, and we all accepted and mourned together the decision we made collectively for Barbara not to come back.

Something similar happened three years later with another participant who was astonished to discover that other people would be affected by him leaving and, at the end of the process, decided to stay. I am still in touch with this person, and I know from him that this process shifted something in terms of his understanding and experience of interdependence. In his case the situation is more pronounced, because he actually shifted his position based on the feedback he received, rather than reaffirming his original intention.

Engaging interdependently with others in the process of making decisions feels to many people like giving up autonomy. The freedom to make whatever decisions we want to make so long as we are not harming others is one of the core attractions of the modern world. I see it as a consolation prize for the loss of community and care.


Dear Mississippi White People


by: on November 22nd, 2018 | 2 Comments »

November 22, 2018

Dear Mississippi White People,

Both of my parents were born and reared in Mississippi. They were part of the Great Migration of African Americans north in the early 1950s. When I was a little girl, we would go south for funerals. For most of my life, I have never felt comfortable south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I was fine for about 48 hours, then something inside of me, something that felt like an old soul, the spirit of an enslaved ancestor, wanted desperately to head back home. Follow the North Star.

Even so, I have some good memories of my time in Mississippi. This is primarily due to my relatives, to aunts and uncles and cousins who made my time with them meaningful. One of the best memories of my life is getting up early one morning and having coffee with my Aunt Mary Anna on her front porch in Indianola. Her house was always full of people of all ages, and she would get up before everyone else and sit on her front porch. This morning, I was up with her, drinking coffee, listening to a rooster crow, enjoying her stories of reality and mystery. It was peace.

When I lived in Philadelphia, my Aunt Rosie would send me shelled pecans from her Indianola, Mississippi tree. I loved eating the pecans, and I loved her for loving me enough to take the time to shell them and to send them to me. God is Divine Love, and her love for me was a visitation of God in my life. Eating the pecans was a kind of communion.

A few years ago, I drove my father, who was then in his mid-eighties, down to Indianola for a funeral. The part of the cemetery where my cousin’s husband was buried was populated by the earthly remains of aunts who loved me and by cousins who I had enjoyed just being around and who had been my role models. Dad said that would be his final trip to Mississippi, and he was right.

One of my cousins invited me to come down when there was not a funeral and she would show me around. I wanted to visit the civil rights and the blues history of the Mississippi Delta. So, I finally did. My cousin was true to her word. We visited the Fannie Lou Hamer Museum and gravesite in Ruleville. She took me to the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, and she drove me to the various addresses in Greenville, where my mother’s family had lived. The last few times I have gone south, I have not felt the need to escape. I see my cousins living productive lives, making important contributions to their communities, and the south in general and Mississippi in particular no longer seem oppressive.

And then came the comments by Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. Speaking about her regard for a supporter she said: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” What? Then she refused to apologize until a debate with her opponent Secretary Mike Espy, saying in part: “You know, for anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will, non whatsoever in my statements. I have worked with all Mississippians. It didn’t matter their skin color type, their age or their income. That’s my record.” Then she proceeded to blame her opponent for turning her comments into a weapon. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mississippi-sen-cindy-hyde-smith-apologizes-to-anyone-offended-by-comments-about-public-hanging-as-opponent-mike-espy-says-she-gave-the-state-a-black-eye/2018/11/20/6eeb3a14-ed0c-11e8-baac-2a674e91502b_story.html?utm_term=.c68bdc76a246)

Hyde-Smith has also been caught on mike joking, she says, about voter suppression. In 2014, she posted a picture of herself wearing a confederate soldier’s cap and holding a gun at the home and presidential library of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. She called the site “Mississippi history at its best.” Is this a celebration of the Civil War?

According to the website Mississippi History Now, “The American Civil War (1861-1865) left Mississippi in chaos with its social structures overturned, its economy in ruins, and its people shattered.” And, the reason for the devastation was the will to preserve slavery. The Mississippi declaration of secession says: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest in the world.”

It is important to remember that the Civil War was fought with conscript soldiers. The Confederacy confiscated crops and livestock from ordinary people to feed the army, a generation of men were killed or left wounded. The south has yet to recover from the economic devastation of the war. Yet, so many white people are still enamored with that war.

In her novel “Gone with the Wind”, Margaret Mitchell writes of her heroine Scarlett O’Hara who is in love with Ashley Wilkes. She thinks he loves her, but he does not. The love she imagines is a dream. It is not and never was real. Such is the case with white people who love the dream of the “Old South”, a fantasy where everyone was happy occupying their assigned place. It never was, is not now, and never will be.

When I read Hyde-Smith’s comments about attending a public hanging, I was working on an essay about African-American soldiers home from World War I who faced beatings and lynching. How could anyone knowing Mississippi history not be offended by Hyde-Smith’s joke? What positive connotation can there be in a history rife with the violence of lynching? The violence of lynching was an attempt to re-establish white supremacy after the Reconstruction period. The violence of voter suppression is also real in a state where Fannie Lou Hamer and others took a beating because they wanted to register to vote. Civil rights workers were killed in their efforts to register voters. How could she think that joking about voter suppression would be funny given this history? How could she think such a thing as she runs for the United State Senate?

Then suddenly, like a flash of lightning, it occurred to me that the expression about attending a public hanging was probably an expression that Hyde-Smith heard in her youth. She very likely grew up with it, and it was a way to express regard for someone. Whenever I see pictures of a lynching, my gaze goes to the body of the person being lynched. I think of their family and of the African-American community that would resist being terrorized by such savagery. However, there is also the crowd of white people who thought of such events as entertainment. I have never considered the crowd as a group of individuals, only as a human mass of barbaric hatred and evil.

The truth is that these crowds were composed of people who had children and grandchildren, who were aunts and uncles and cousins, who loved their kin the way my people love me. Hyde-Smith very likely heard this expression from a beloved relative in a context of joviality and good family fun.

Dear Mississippi White People, you have some serious introspection to do. What is the origin of such an expression? Were the people who nurtured you and loved you also the people who populated the crowds that participated in public hangings by their presence on the front row? To what lengths are you willing to go to preserve a dream that was never true? Are you willing to keep your state at the bottom of the list of states on almost every measure of achievement because you want to hold onto the deception of white supremacy?

To even know that she has said something vile, Senator Hyde-Smith needs to do the difficult work of introspection and to realize that the people who raised her, who loved her, were also willing to become a part of a murderous evil mob because people will act in a mob the way they would never act as individuals. You all need to do this work for the sake of bringing about real and lasting change in Mississippi. This is your work to do White People because you are the ones holding onto a deception.

The good news is that we live in a country that allows us to make a choice with every election. We can choose to stay stuck in a past that has not served us well, or we can move forward. Dear Mississippi White People, this is your choice on Tuesday in the special election. In his proclamation that established Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called for repentance as an aspect of our prayers on this day.

He wrote: “And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”

On this Thanksgiving Day, we all can be thankful that we live in the United States of America where we have both a responsibility and an opportunity to work for healing, to form a more perfect union, where we can work toward the goals of human equality and universal human rights.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Valerie Elverton Dixon





Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of JustPeaceTheory.com and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.”

Armistice-Veterans Day 2018


by: on November 12th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

As human beings, we are a carbon-based life form.

We are close kin to the higher order apes.

We are homo sapiens, a bit of earth that can think.

We stand up straight; have an opposable thumb; have the capacity for rational thought; are able to use symbols to communicate abstract thoughts; we can use symbols to communicate about symbols; we can remember the past and plan for the future.

The gospel according to Jamie Lannister of the television version of “Game of Thrones”: “Strange thing, first time you cut a man, you realize we’re nothing but sacs of meat, blood and some bone to keep is all standing.”

I say: we are bags of water, flesh, blood, and bone called by a proper name.

We are body soul mind mysteries as long as we breathe the breath of life. We are character and personality that loves and hates, that laughs and cries, that sings and dances, that wills and desires, and sometimes just does not give a care. And when the breath leaves for the last time, our bodies become dust and ashes. We leave an empty space. Other human beings grieve.

The chemicals in our bodies are worth about one dollar.

So, what sense does it make to think that the color of the bag of water flesh blood and bone called by a proper name makes an individual more or less than any other? What sense does it make that the shape of it or the strength of it gives an individual the right to treat the Other as an object for one’s own drunken pleasure to be tossed away and forgotten like used tissue? What sense does it make that some bags think that they are superior because of the bit of earth upon which they were born or upon which they now stand or that they have a right to keep other bags from coming to that place? What makes the bags that we are fear the Other, hate the Other, and want to kill the Other to point of war?

World War I stands as one of the most deadly wars in the history of humankind. Between 15 and 19 million human beings died. Some 23 million military personnel were wounded. We do not know how many lives were shattered because of post-traumatic stress disorder, known at the time as shell shock.


Isolation Versus Community


by: on November 8th, 2018 | 4 Comments »

Tree of Life Synagogue

Tree of Life Synagogue / Creative Commons / Common Dreams

Last night after meeting with my LGBTQ book club and talking about social isolation, and what I had written but not yet posted about the massacre in Pennsylvania, I thought I should go ahead and post the piece here.

Then, this morning, I woke up to another massacre, this one in a Southern California club. In the hopes that in the midst of so many of our hearts breaking over the news, wondering what in the world we can do to make a difference, I post this so that it might be food for thought and perhaps food for action and hope.


Voting, A Patriotic Duty


by: on November 6th, 2018 | 3 Comments »

I am a black woman in America.

I am a woke black woman who has been woke before woke was cool.

I also love America.

I am an American patriot, an Angela Davis patriot. I heard Angela Davis explain to a television talk-show host that her activism did not come from a hatred of America, rather, it comes from her love for her country. Angela Davis patriotism is not a cheap “my country right or wrong” patriotism. It requires more than simply standing with hand over heart when the national anthem is performed before some sporting event. Angela Davis patriotism is filled with womanist virtues of love, responsibility, commitment, and complexity.

I love America because it is my home. The bones of my ancestors are interred in its ground. Their ashes are scattered over the waters that flow across the earth from its shores. The lives that they lived made America’s history that has become today becoming tomorrow. My West African ancestors came in the early 19th century in slave ships. They survived the horrors of the Middle Passage and the barbarisms of slavery and the injustices of Jim Crow to give me life and a country that allows me more opportunity than they ever had, that requires me to try my best to help this country become a more perfect union for all those who will come after me.

I do not know the story of my Irish and Scandinavian ancestors. I do not know how or when they came to the United States. I do not know the story behind the relationships that made them a part of me.

I do know that my ancestors have fought for their freedom and for the preservation of the United States. One of my ancestors walked away from slavery in Mississippi and joined the Union army to fight for his freedom. This summer my 96-year-old uncle who had served in North Africa and in Europe during World War II died. I have another uncle, now with the ancestors, who served in Vietnam as a member of the Special Forces. I have cousins who have made a career of the military. Some have served in America’s most recent wars. This spring I, a peace activist, pinned decorations on my nephew’s uniform on the occasion of his graduation from his Army basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, the same base where his grandfather completed his basic training before deploying to Korea to fight that war.


An American Kaddish


by: Daniel Stein Kokin on November 2nd, 2018 | 1 Comment »


Yitgadal ve’yitkadash sh’mei raba.

Columbine (1999; 13, 24)*

B’alma di v’ra khir’utei,

Santana (2001; 2, 13)

v’yamlikh malkhutei,

Red Lake (2005; 9, 5)

b’ḥayeikhon u-v’yomeikhon,

West Nickel Mines (2006; 5, 5)

u-v’ḥayei d’khol beit yisrael,

Virginia Tech (2007; 33, 17)

ba-agala u-vi-z’man kariv,

Fort Hood (2009; 14, 33)

v’imru amen.

Y’hei sh’mei raba m’vorakh l’alam u’l'almei almaya.

Yitbarakh v’yishtabaḥ v’yitpa’ar v’yitromam v’yitnasei,

Sandy Hook (2012; 28, 2)

v’yit-hadar v’yit’aleh v’yit-halal,

Aurora (2012; 12, 70)

sh’mei d’kudsha, brikh hu.

Washington Navy Yard (2013; 13, 8)

L’ela min kol birkhata v’shirata,

San Bernardino (2015; 16, 24)

tushb’ḥata v’neḥemata

Charleston (2015; 9, 1)

da-amiran b’alma,

Umpqua (2015; 10, 8)

v’imru amen.

Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya,

Orlando (2017; 50, 58)

v’ḥayim aleinu v’al kol yisrael,

Las Vegas (2017; 59, 851)

v’al kol yoshvei teiveil,

Sutherland Springs (2017; 27, 20)

v’imru amen.

Oseh shalom bi-m’romav,

Stoneman Douglas (2018; 17, 17)

hu ya’aseh shalom

Santa Fe (2018; 10, 13*)

aleinu v’al kol yisrael v’al kol yoshvei teiveil,

Pittsburgh (2018; 11, 6)

v’imru amen.


* The numbers in parentheses refer to the date of the mass shooting; the number of people killed, and the number of people injured.


Based in Berlin, Daniel Stein Kokin teaches Jewish Studies at the University of Greifswald in Germany and is currently back in his hometown Los Angeles as a visiting professor of Israel Studies at UCLA.

My Dinner with the Devil (a short story)


by: on October 31st, 2018 | 1 Comment »

He was a tall, dark, and handsome stranger standing in front of me in the grocery store line. He was “Oh my goodness fine.” But, I was cool, thumbing through a special edition of Rolling Stone about John Lennon.

The man said something out loud, and I looked up. He seemed to be reciting his grocery list.

“Excuse me,” I said.

“Oh no. It’s nothing. I am talking to myself,” he said.

“That’s fine. As long as you do not answer yourself, you are ok,” I said looking back at the magazine.

“And if I do answer myself?” he asked.

“Then I would suggest to you that you seek professional help.”

We both laughed.

“I suppose that may not be a bad idea,” he said.

“Absolutely not,” I replied. “More people in the United States of America ought to seek professional help. If you are not already crazy, this country, especially now, will make you crazy.”

“Sign of the times,” he said.

“Look around. Violence, drug and alcohol abuse. We all need to have a mental health primary care doc the same say we have a physical primary care doc,” I said.

“I think you may be right,” he said. “Are you a Beatles fan?” he asked noticing the magazine.

“”I am,” I said. “I am especially interested in John and his opposition to war in general and to the Vietnam War in particular.”

The line had moved forward, and he not only paid for his groceries but he paid for mine as well. I protested, but he insisted. So, I just said thank you.

As we were leaving the store, he asked me out to dinner, saying he would like to talk some more about my ideas on war and peace and John Lennon. My shields went up. I was at once wary and intrigued. What is the deal with this handsome stranger who just paid for my groceries?

“You ought to know that I am a personally conservative and politically radical,” I said. This was my way of saying that he had not bought a sexual encounter.

“That sounds interesting,” he said. “I tell you what: let me give you the name of a restaurant that I like and if you want to join me for dinner, say Saturday night around 6, then come. If you do not come, I will not be hurt.”

He did not ask for my number. He did not say that he would text me. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a small notebook and a very expensive pen and wrote down the name and address of a very expensive downtown restaurant. He handed me the paper with a smile. A beguiling, charismatic, intriguing smile.

“I will think about it,” I said. “What is your name?” I asked.

“Belial Set,” he replied.

I told him my name. We shook hands and parted ways.

“Belial Set,” I thought. “This is a strange name.” I said it to myself a few times because I did not want to forget. The moment I got home, I would Google him.

When I did Google him, I found a connection to the devil, but nothing else. Set was the Egyptian god of chaos. This man was not real. He could not be serious. “Who would name their son Belial?” I thought. Maybe he is crazy. I thought and thought for days until I finally decided to go. There was room on my credit card to pay for a nice meal at an expensive restaurant and to get myself there and home.

Saturday night came. It took me a minute to decide not to wear the high heels with my going out to dinner at a nice restaurant little black dress. I have decided to unbind my feet from high heels, so I chose the rose gold flats. I powdered my nose and was out the door.

He was at the restaurant when I arrived, waiting at the bar looking as handsome, no as beautiful, as I remembered. He waved me over and we did not have to wait at all for a table. We were seated at a very nice table. The wait staff at the restaurant knew him well. I was intentional about paying attention to this man, how he walked and talked and interacted with people. There was something different about him, but I could not quite put my finger on what it was. He was alluring.

“I Googled you,” I said. “But, did not find out much. What do you do, and why do you not have an Internet footprint?”

“You could say that I am in mergers and acquisitions,” he replied. “I have an Internet footprint, just not the kind you are accustomed to finding because I am Satan aka Lucifer.”

“I am out to dinner with a crazy man,” I thought. “How am I going to get myself out of here quickly and safely?”


With A Perfect Hatred (part 2)


by: on October 29th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

I hate liars and lies with a perfect hatred. As it is written in the Psalms: “I hate and detest falsehood, But I love [God's] law. (Psalm 119:163)

As I write this, the United States has been rocked by multiple acts of violence in the past few days. A Florida man has been accused of sending multiple pipe bombs to prominent Democrats. Thankfully, the bombs did not explode. As we were reeling from this act of terrorism, a white supremacists tried to break into an African-American church to do harm. When he could not get in, he went to a local Kroger store in Kentucky and shot two African Americans dead. While we were processing this tragedy, a white nationalist walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 worshippers and injured six.

Violence is lazy and stupid.

What did these men think? Did the Florida man think that he would send bombs to high-ranking Democrats and progressive thought would go away? Did he think that people would say; “Oh my goodness, these people are dead, I ought to support Donald Trump now.”? When the killer shot two African Americans in a Kroger store did he think that all black people across the globe would vaporize? When the shooter entered the Tree of Life synagogue did he think that a religion that has maintained for millennia through countless purges and the Holocaust would suddenly disappear? Stupid.

These killers clearly do not know history. The moment blood is shed in the name of a cause or as an attack on a segment of humanity for no reason other than who they are, the blood sanctifies the cause and humanity remembers that human life is precious. Violence makes people more dedicated to their cause. Violence makes people more determined to live and to render the violence ineffective.

Violence is lazy. It is lazy because it somehow believes that a cause can be defeated through violence. In reality, one cannot bomb a political ideology. One cannot shoot and entire race of people. One cannot mass murder a religion.

In the face of lazy stupid useless violence, what am I to do with my perfect hatred?

I wish it were a tangible thing that I could pack away in a box and put it in the back of the basement to await death cleaning. Or, would that it were a thing that I could toss in the kitchen garbage then put on the curb for the weekly trash truck to pick up and dump in the local landfill. There it could rest for a thousand years until an archeologist digs it up and dusts it off to learn about a culture long gone. Sadly, this is not how a perfect hatred works.


With A Perfect Hatred (part 1)


by: on October 24th, 2018 | 5 Comments »

My rage was physical.

When the final votes were counted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the United State Supreme Court, I could feel the blood coursing through my body acid hot. I have heard the expression about boiling blood, but I had never felt this sensation before. However, at this moment, by blood not only boiled, but it ran through my body with a stinging sensation. What is the bio-chemistry of fury? My tears wanted to fall. I refused them exit.


What would be the reason for my tears? Would they be tears of rage or tears of grief, and what would I be grieving? Would they be tears of grief for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who, like Anita Hill more than 20 years before, was not believed? Would they be tears for all of the survivors of sexual assault who had finally found the courage to speak their truth? Would my tears be tears for a nation that seems to want to lie to itself so it can continue to pretend that it is moral?

I could not think except for a tiny bit of scripture: “I hate them with a perfect hatred.” (Psalm 139:22)

Reared in the African-American Baptist tradition, we were taught to learn the Bible for memory. Learn the Bible by heart, and Holy Spirit will bring the Word of God back to you when you need it. All that Sunday School, all that Vacation Bible School. The pledge of allegiance that meant something to me: “I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feel and a light unto my path. I will hide its words in my heart that I may not sin against God.”

At this moment, Holy Spirit brought nothing to my remembrance except. “I hate them with a perfect hatred.” The blood continued to run hot in my veins. Perfect hatred contradicts what I stand for -the power of radical love and nonviolence. Still all my mind would say to me was: “I hate them with a perfect hatred.”

“This cannot be healthy,” I thought to myself. Another bit of scripture came to me. “Be still and know that I am God. ” (Psalm 46:10) Stillness. Calm.

My own rage surprised me. I knew the playbook. When Dr. Ford’s story became public, I knew what would happen. Deny, deny, deny. Attack, attack, attack. I was not surprised when Jeff Flake and Susan Collins supported Kavanaugh. They usually do what Mitch McConnell wants.

“I hate them with a perfect hatred.”

I could not think, I could not even pray. All I could do was to say the name of Jesus. I was taught to pray in the name of Jesus, that Jesus had promised that the Father would grant a request made in the name of Jesus. At this moment, I had no request. The name of Jesus was its own prayer, an invocation, a plea for transcendence, a means of reminding myself of the Divine Love of God made incarnate in human flesh. Still my only coherent thought was: “I hate them with a perfect hatred.”

Next day, on Sunday, I asked my church family to pray for me. This is the importance of a faith community and of prayer partners. Others can formulate a prayer for us when we have nothing left. “We need a liturgy for such occasions”, I thought. Perhaps there is one for moments when our hatred is perfect, complete, ultimate. We need a litany for survivors who are not heard and for a nation that is run by liars and thieves who crowds cheer and voters vote into office.

Holy Spirit brought the rest of that Psalm to my mind: “I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Perfect hatred requires self-reflection. Why do I hate these people with a perfect hatred? The answer was immediate. I hate the lies. I hate the lies, and the willingness to believe the lies. I hate the place where we are in the United States where people can lie, we know they are lying, and it does not matter.