Friday, December 26, 2014

Book Review – Gilead

This book had been recommended by a number of Ministers I respect, so I picked up a copy and read it over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  It was one of two fiction books I have read this year.  With reading so much for sermon preparation in mind, I tend to read more theological/religous oriented books.  I can count on both hands the number of fiction books I have read since entering Ministry. (for the record, prior to ministry I was an avid fiction reader, particularly fond of the spy and science fiction genres. I am commited to reading more fiction in my life!!)   So now when I do read fiction, I really want to make sure it is going to be something I will enjoy!! 

Gilead is a pullitzer prize winner by Marilynne Robinson.  Set in a rural Iowa it is a dieing Ministers reflection on his life and his vocation to be shared in later years with his young child.  Although the book flows well it has a few slow patches.  Just like our lives have a few slow patches.  It is a thoughtful book.  I think it would be more appreciated by ministers who might see a bit of themselves, or probably moreso a commonality of feelings about the vocation itself.   I also think it is appealing to people who live in a rural environement.  The protagonist says “And I knew what hope it was. It was just that kind the place was meant to encourage, that a harmless life could be lived here unmolested.”  And yet, we know that no place provides a harmless life. And such a place creates a homogenous environment that is not safe for outsiders.  Still we all seek at least metaphorically or a state of mind that is harmless.  The story told the beauty of doing the small thing just for the sake of doing it and recognizing the beauty in that.  It also touches on the balance of staying in a safe place and going beyond it. How sometimes we have to leave to become who we were meant to be, or to create a new vision for ourselves.  Yet ultimately we have to find a place we can call home.   The book did not sugarcoat ministry by any means.  It showed the challenges, uncertainties and struggles of it.  It also showed the wonder and fulfillment of ministry. After providing care to someone he’d known as a child the protagonist said “Id have gone through seminary and ordination an all the years interveing for that one moment” I think every minister can relate to that. 

If you like action books, this one is not for you.  But if you like to see a slice of life of rural minister it is a balm.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Eve Homily - What Is A Shepherd To Do?

I try to imagine how it must have been for the shepherds.  Spending most of their days alone away from the rest of society.  Considered even a lower class than peasants.  In this story these improbable characters are asked by angels to be witness of the birth of Jesus.  The angel doesn’t demand they see Jesus, he just tells them of Jesus birth and where Jesus will be in Bethlehem.  The Shepherds then had to choose to decide whether to make that journey. 
Just as we each day have to decide whether we are going to partake in a religious and spiritual journey or practice.  You see Bethlehem is a state a mind.
As in our earlier reading about the shepherds, we can find wonder anywhere, wherever we are.  We don’t have to travel great distances to sandy beaches or mountain retreats. We can find wonder wherever we are in every action we take.
So why shepherds?   Of the four gospels, there are stories of Jesus birth in only two of them and both are quite different.  In Matthew it is 3 wise men, foreigners who are the witness.  In Luke it is the local Shepherds as witness.  In our previous story I found it interesting to think of the shepherds and the wise men meeting up together in Bethlehem. I always had thought of it as either the wise men or the shepherds. But Bethlehem is a state of mind where all people are welcome.  
I think there are two reasons Luke includes the Shepherds.  One, is a practical one, in that the writers wanted to connect the motif of the story of Jesus, the hoped for future king to a past Jewish King, King David, who had himself been a Shepherd. But secondly, and I think more importantly, it is to put an emphasis on Jesus Ministry with the marginalized people in society. Compared to Matthews Gospel, Luke’s Gospel is much more focused on the wealthy individual’s obligation to the poor, the outcasts, and the marginalized.   

Here are just a few examples, again found only in Luke. Ch 3 vs 11 John the Baptizer urges that “whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise” and in the beatitudes, Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “blessed are you who hunger for righteousness” but in Luke he says, “Blessed are you who are poor” “Blessed are you who are hungry now.”  Also in Luke, At the home of a Pharisee, Jesus advises: “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” (14: 13). The list goes on and on.
Luke wants to set the image that wonders are available and revealed to everyone, the marginalized as well as the powerful.   As our Unitarian Universalist first principle state we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.   That is the message I think this story is trying to emphasize.  Shepherds matter as much as anyone.  I am left wondering what happened to the Shepherds (or even the wise men for that matter.) They are never heard from again in any of the Biblical stories.  They were clearly changed by their experience.
I thought there is one telling line at the end of the reading.  “The Shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”  This line shows me that we are asked to compare our beliefs with our experiences in the world.  They didn’t just take the angels word for it.  They investigated, they took their religious journey and found their experience to agree with the idea put forth by the angel.  It was at that point they found their authenticity.  We must find what is authentic for each of us, we must each take our journey and find where it leads us, to where we find that wholeness  where experience and belief meet. When that happens. maybe we become angels for others on their journey.
And I wish for all of you what Zechariah father of John the Baptist wished for his son in Luke Ch 1 vs 76
“And you will be called the prophet of the Most High
for you will go to prepare the way,
to give knowledge of salvation to people, through forgiveness,
By tender mercies, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace."

So may it be for us
To prepare a way for peace on earth, through our actions walking in this world.
With wisdom and forgiveness and mercy
Bringing light to all we encounter with all we do.
May we find wonder, whether it be going in search of it in a far off place
Or staying close to home to be with those in our care.
And may we see everyone who in need who we can help as those in our care.
May we all be shepherds and angels, and may we welcome all shepherds, angels and lambs into our lives. May we stay in that Bethlehem state of mind. In search of wonder. May it be so.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Newsroom – Series Review a 7 out of 10 on the JWO Scale.

I like many probably saw the video below some time ago on Facebook.  Last night I watched the final episode of the 3rd Season and I thought this episode really was well written and really ties up a lot of loose ends. Then I read today it is the series finale and well that makes a lot of sense.  Although the show had some ups and downs, Overall I liked the show.  I liked the witty banty between all the characters. This was a great ensemble cast of performers (Sam Waterson, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortenson, Dev Patel, Oliva Munn and many more)  I like that it references Don Quixote often. I liked how it showed the transformation of people from the status quo to struggling to become principled people. I liked their  “mission to civilize”  Mostly I liked how it showed how our News has become entertainment.  I notice this more and more everynight when I watch national news.  Yes I do want to be kept up on pop culture in America, but there are other ways to do that than the nightly news.  I want to watch the news for news.  Its why I still read the NY Times every morning.  As Thomas Jefferson said “wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government;”  A good show, with good acting, with good writing, and a good message. Worth catching on re-runs if you haven’t seen it.   

In his speech why America is not the greatest country in the world the lead character states:
"It sure used to be… We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reason. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reason. We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. We built great, big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists AND the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed… by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Liviing with Hope

Although next week I will talk about the plethora of Winter Holidays that abound, this week I thought I would share from our Christian Sources the Holiday of Advent. It is celebrated the four Sundays prior to Christmas.  For Christian traditionalists it is the celebrating the  birth of Jesus, and awaiting with hope for the return of the Messiah. A hoped for better future through divine intervention.  More progressive Christians use this time of year to look within to better understand their relationship with Jesus and to think about what the meaning of Jesus is in their daily lives.  How does this holiday have some meaning for us as Unitarian Universalists. For those of us who fiind meaning in the teachings of Jesus it can be a time set aside to reflect on those teachings.  As well,  I think it is always good for people to stop and think about our relationships.  To stop and think about what we think about our place in the Universe and what future we hope for.  We are often so busy doing, that we don’t stop to remember why we are doing it.
So in this busy time of year especially in this busy time of year I encourage you to stop and take some moments to think about your future.  It is good to be reminded about the values of hope, patience and resiliency. Its good to take time to read from your sacred text, whatever that text may be.  It is a holiday of waiting, waiting for a better future, waiting for change.  Although I think if you asked most children it is about waiting for gifts. It reminds me of the play “Waiting for Godot” where the characters spend their bleak purposeless life waiting for a visitor that never comes. I say better to go and engage the unknown. However it is my hope to lift the holiday to transcend mere gift giving but rather to give people hope. 
I think it is interesting that in the four Christian Gospels the word hope only appears 3 times and two of those times in a negative way.  The word hope appears in the Book of Acts and the writings of the Apostle Paul, after the death of Jesus.  After the fall, after the failed Jewish Revolution, after the death of for some of them their friend and for others their spiritual leader. When hoped for change did not happen that is when hope is needed most. .  The word faith is used often in the scriptures, but hope is different from faith. Faith is belief in the unknown, hope is belief in something that we can experience.   Our Unitarian Universalist Religion inspires us to imagine a world with peace liberty and justice for all. But just waiting is a passive hope.  Hope requires Patience and Perseverance but it requires action as well. Joanna Macy in her book “Active Hope writes
“The word hope has two different meanings.  The first involves hopefulness, where our preferred outcome seems reasonably likely to happen.  If we require this kind of hope before we commit ourselves to an action our response gets blocked in areas where we don’t rate our chances too high. The second meaning is about desire. What we would like to have happen in our world. The future we hope for, the kind of world we long for so much it hurts.  It is the kind of hope that starts our journey. It is what we do with this hope that really makes the difference.  Passive hope is about waiting for external agencies to bring about what we desire.  Active hope is about becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for. “
Unitarian Universalism believes that humanity is an active participant in creation.  That what we do here in this world matters for better and for worse. Things at times can seem challenging. But we don’t have to wait for some cataclysmic event to happen in our world to change the way our world is.  One of our strengths of humanity is the power of our imagination for a better future.  It is not enough only to imagine, but imagining is where it starts. That is the faith I have….that we have ability to change.  The ability to change ourselves, and how we live in the world, and thus by doing so, we can change the world. But it is not easy.  I often say “if it was easy anyone could do it. And anything worth doing requires hard work.” 

Brene Brown author and research professor of social work states
“the new cultural belief that everything should be fun, fast, and easy is inconsistent with hopeful thinking. It also sets us up for hopelessness. When we experience something that is difficult and requires significant time and effort, we are quick to think, This is supposed to be easy; it's not worth the effort, or, This should be easier: it's only hard and slow because I'm not good at it. Hopeful self-talk sounds more like, This is tough, but I can do it.” 

How though in the face of insurmountable obstacles do we have hope.  I want to share with you this short clip from the movie Matrix Revolutions.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, the protagonist Mr. Anderson becomes aware that his entire existence is all in his imagination through a computer program called the matrix.  He frees himself, but the computers are overpowering. It is ironic, because in the plot of the film, the computer program gives the humans hope of freedom as a way of keeping humans engaged. Without hope for something better humans rejected the programming.  As if hope was integral to our way of being. 
And with each generation, the computers would crush the human rebellion, only to allow a new one build up.  But still humanity persisted. 

(Show Matrix Revolutions Clip.)

In case you didn’t hear the last line the character says because I choose to.  In the end working with other computers  he sacrifices himself which causes the bad computer to explode and he saves humanity.  So yes, even though despite the hardship, despite long odds, despite common sense telling us to sell out, or give up because its too hard,  we can choose another way. We can choose.  Yes we often like the status quo.  It gives us comfort.  But comfort never leads to or creates change. 
I read a great analogy of this about the creation of a pearl inside an oyster.  When sand gets into the oyster irritating it, the oyster secretes a substance to defend itself.  That substance is what creates the beautiful pearl.  So yes, I encourage you to get irritated at racial injustice, get frustrated at the lack of peace in the world, to become  exasperated with the lack of action on climate change.  Let that irritation, frustration, exasperation lead us to act and to create a beautiful pearl of a world. Let is lead us to make some different choices if we hope to have a better future for our descendants seven generations from now.  And some of those choices will require sacrifice on our part.  A willingness to risk the comfortable and the convenient, A willingness to risk the status quo, a willingness to enlargen our circle, a willingness to be innovative, and try something new, something different.  That is why we found our way here together.  Let us not stop here. Let us not accept good as good enough.   Brene Brown in the same book went on to say:
“We develop a hopeful mind-set when we understand that some worthy endeavors will be difficult and time consuming and not enjoyable at all.. If we want to cultivate hopefulness, we have to be willing to be flexible and demonstrate perseverance.
Not every goal will look and feel the same. Tolerance for disappointment, determination, and a belief in self are the heart of hope.”
What gives us hope?  Well I have to say It is easier to look back on a life and see the road travelled, to see the accomplishments achieved, to see the lives touched.  To see the hurdles we have overcome, the mountains we have scaled, the races we have run.  We recognize the shortcuts we may have taken, the opportunities lost. It is easier to look back and see the long view and that allows me to take the long view looking forward.  It may not be something that will be in my lifetime.
Just as the builders of York Catherdral, which purportedly took over 250 years, or Stonehenge or the Great Wall of China (who really knows how long), all of these projects lasted over multiple lifetimes.  Each generation did their part and each generation does their part to create a better future even if it doesn’t change or become apparent in their lifetime. But we have to do our part to build that future. It is easier to look back and know that change comes slowly, that love at first sight needs to be constantly worked at, and that it is always worth the short term sacrifice to make the long term gain.  It is not always so easy to see that looking forward. 
Sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning can seem a challenge.  When I think about all the things I have to do just to get ready in the morning.  If I count them all up there are probably 100 things I do before I walk out the door. (list a few things)  But I look at it as one thing.  “Getting ready to leave the house.” I try to remember that when I am starting some new venture.  Planning is important, but it is also important to always focus on what the hoped for outcome is.   For us as a Congregation, we have our mission to guide us.  To create a vibrant welcoming diverse church family which embraces individual searches for meaning and devotes itself to the community good.”  Everything we do as a Congregation should be guided by that.  And there are many different people who have many different ideas about how to get there.  So we will try some things and some will work and some will not, but we will keep trying because we know where we are headed.  And we know one other thing. We are in this together and that Love will guide us.
I saw the movie Interstellar this weekend.  I don’t know about the science underpinning the movie, but it gave me a couple of different perspectives of how our actions affect our future.  So I recommend it.  There was a point in the movie where the characters were faced with a tough decision.  One made a choice with pure utilitarian rationale. The other was guided by love. The character who makes their choice by love says 
“So listen to me when I say love isn't something that we invented. It's observable. Powerful. It has to mean something. Maybe it means something more - something we can't yet understand. Maybe it's some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can't consciously perceive. Love is the one thing that we're capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can't understand it. “

Think about it.  We love those who may live far away, we still love those who may have passed away, and yes I love my descendants who are not even born yet. Love transcends time and space.  Let us make our choices, with our limited knowledge, not on some utilitarian equation, but rather based on love. With every word we utter, we every step we take, with every action we initiate, let them all be guided in the ethic of love, love for ourselves, love for others and love for the earth itself.  For I believe our lives are the exact opposite of what the computer in the Matrix says.  Our lives do have meaning and purpose. We are fighting for something more than our survival, we are fighting for our freedom, for truth, for justice and mostly for love.  May we have the patience and resiliency to see it through.  May we have hope.  May it be so. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Circle of Life

When I was young, whenever I would ask my grandfather how he was he would say to me, Jay every day above ground is a good day.  He was someone who overcame many challenges in life, travelling to the United States as a child, despite many setbacks, he had five heart attacks in his life, this was before Lipitor,  his first heart attack cost him his business, but he always had this positive attitude thankful for whatever he had.  One day I asked him why he was always so happy, and he scrunched up his face, peered at me for a few seconds and then said “Jay, no one gets out alive” and then he laughed his hearty laugh and gave me a bagel.   
             Now I later found out that was a line from a Doors song by Jim Morrison, which left me wondering, did my grandfather listen to the Doors?  Or possibly did Jim Morrison talk to my grandfather.  Either way, I think that one sentence is the cause of all religious thought.  That we are sentient beings who are self aware of our eventual death.  We live with the knowledge we are going to die. Religions have since time immemorial tried to help humanity deal with this reality.   
Whether it is through Jewish Ethical Laws, or Christian belief in Jesus, or our Universalist heritage of a loving God or Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, religions and religious thought bring people together to help people live a finite existence in an infinite universe.  I want you to focus on the phrase bring people together.  For I believe that in and of itself is the point of religion.  To allow us to reach beyond ourselves, beyond our own egos, beyond our own perceptions and to join with others to explore the meaning and unwinding of our lives.  Our Unitarian Universalists’ principles calls us to live with Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
In a diverse world, in a pluralistic community, our theology is a this world theology, a relational theology that calls us to be compassionate in all our actions in this world.  Every moment of our lives is full of change, from our first breathe to our last.  The picture on the front of the order of service is a copy of calligraphy by Thict Nhat Hanh.  It is a circle with the words breathe and smile.   Thict Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk who is the founder of the order of interbeing.  In many of his writings he encourages people to live with mindfulness and he even encourages people to smile as part of their meditation practice. 
The circle is a universal symbol of eternity. The circle is without beginning or end. It is the symbol of the sun, the earth, wholeness, and harmony. If the circle is wholeness what is inside it is life itself.  Thich Nhat Hanh says “During the time I draw the circle, I realize too that this hand of mine contains the hands of my father, mother and ancestors. So my father, mother, ancestors and teachers are doing the circle with me. And since we are doing the circle together, there is no self, no separate self. So drawing a circle, you can get an insight of anatta or no-self.”  No Self is realization of what I would call the interdependence of all existence.   
If only life was as simple as breathe and smile.  Sometimes that is all we require.  To step back and breathe and to see the world the way it is versus how we imagine it to be. To see ourselves the way we are, as opposed to how others or even we imagine ourselves to be. During our mindfulness meditation practice on Tuesdays as I encourage people to focus on their breath, I tell them when you hear other noises such as a car horn, don’t think “oh that car horn is interrupting me, but to just acknowledge it for what it is,oh that is a car horn, and return to the breath. The thoughts in our minds create stories instead of focusing on what something really is.
When we are feeling anxious we tend to hold our breath. 
So just breathe, and try to recognize things for what they are.  Now to smile is an acknowledgement of our inability to control the universe, and to smile is sometimes all we can do with what sometimes appears to be arbitrary weaving of our path in the world.  We can also smile at the simple beauties that we find all around us.  Smiling can actually be healthy for us.  Just the act of smiling, even if we don’t mean it, can bring happiness to us and others around us.  Charles Darwin was one of the first to suggest that the act of smiling can makes us feel good as opposed to being merely the consequence of feeling good. 
Lets try it out, Look at the person next to you and smile and see if the smile is returned. Its nice to see smiling faces.   Surprisingly to me, there has been extensive medical and academic studies on smiling.  Studies have shown that Smiling can help reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones and increase the level of mood-enhancing hormones in our body. Smiling can lead to longer life spans. So I encourage you to smile.  But we live in a complex world.  In all the chances and changes of life we can often find ourselves struggling and suffering with loss.  When we have grief,  sometimes the encouragement to smile is not enough or might even seem a bit trite.
We come together in community, and within community we learn to walk with others in navigating our grief.  It is not always about solving problems.  Sometimes it is just our presence in someone’s life, a recognition for others that they are not alone that helps them through their struggles.    Each person deals with grief differently.  Grief however is a natural response to loss.  By loss I do not mean just the death of a loved one. That is of course a major loss, but loss can come from any type of transition, Loss of certainty, from changing jobs or relationships, loss of familiarity from moving to a new city, loss of comfort from changing religions.  
              Each of us in our lives has had some sort of unique loss.  Each of us feels and deals with those losses in a very unique way.  I think that is an important point to remember.  How does the song go.  “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, Nobody knows my sorrow”.  Think about yourselves.  No one can understand your unique circumstances. And yet how do we reconcile this uniqueness with the concept of no-self.  It is because we see ourselves as separate from the whole, we do not see ourselves in the circle.   I want you to consider that when thinking of the wounds that others have that need to be healed. 
Let us come into the Circle. Let us spend our time healing our wounds, and walking with each other and lifting each other up as we fall, and helping each other reach to become their best selves.  It was with this in mind that we created the Pastoral Associates Program.  Unitarian Universalism doesn’t offer you an easy religious answer that tells you everything will be allright in the end.  What we do offer is relationship.  A relationship with others to walk with you. To be with you, to listen to you.  To care for you.  It is our commitment to caring that is at the core of our community. 
Often people try to deny and ignore their grief which often that leads to negative emotions boiling over and being displayed in other unhealthy ways.  So I invite you, if you have had a loss of some sort to contact me or Alice or Lucia and let a Pastoral Associate walk with you on your journey.  If there is someone you are worried about, or someone you haven’t seen in a while, let us know.   When I originally imagined this service, I was imagining the Disney movie The Lion King.  At the beginning of the movie all the different animals come together to see the new baby lion that was just born.  That is how I imagine us, all coming together to be a part of the most important aspects of each others lives. From birth to death, with joys and sorrows,  we come together in the circle of life.  Breathe, Smile.  May it be so.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Lament for Racial Justice

I have been out of the pulpit the past two weeks, and there have been some deep sorrows in the larger world, and I am sorry I was not here to speak about it.  There have been multiple instances where people of color have been killed by white police officers without repercussion.   I feel a deep sorrow for  Michael Brown and his family who was shot dead in the street in Ferguson Mo.  I have a deep sorrow for the loss of 12 year old Tamar Rice in Cleveland who while playing with a toy gun, was shot by a policeman within two seconds upon that officer’s arrival on the scene.  Clearly a preventable death based on fear. 
Lastly the most blatant, this week authorities in New York, did not press charges in the death of Eric Garner, which was filmed, and from the video clear, that he was attacked by police using an illegal chokehold. Again, certainly a preventable death. The truth is there are many many many more, but these are just the most egregious that make the news.I am not here today to argue the facts of each of these cases, some are complex, some seem more simple to me, and I will talk more about theses issues and the issue of systemic racism in January. 
Today though,  I am here to share a lament with you.
I lament for the lives that were cut short needlessly,
I lament for a government that feels the best way to work with the community is to become a
            police state with military weapons.  
I lament a system that lacks transparency and accountability. For this there is a deep sorrow in
            the loss of our freedoms in light of all these tactics.   
I lament a system that starts with the assumption of fear and guilt upon meeting people of color.  
I lament the system where poor people are in an environment that offers few opportunities.
I lament the system that in light of all of this, continues to gut public education which will allow
            even less opportunity.
I lament the system that sometimes leaves no other recourse but violence.  Martin Luther King wrote “When there is a rock hard intransigence or sophisticated manipulation that mocks the empty handed petitioner, rage replaces reasons”  
Now I grew up in a neighborhood in New York City which police officer’s lived and it was a very racially charged environment.  Most of the officers I knew were good people trying to do a difficult dangerous job as best as they could. When my neighbors house was being robbed in the middle of the day, I was right outside when the robber tried to escape, so we put out a call in the neighborhood, Soon doors in the neighborhood opened and officers came running,  chasing and capturing the intruder.  I remember this clear as day from my childhood.  Parents telling us to get inside, as we continued to chase the robber around the neighborhood through back yards and fences. In fact, the police saved the intruders’ life at the hands of my neighbor who was more than a little pissed off when he caught him.  So I am not here to vilify police officers. There are many many good caring police officers.  But that does not excuse bad policing when it happens. And I can tell you that throughout our country many people of color do not feel safe and secure when they encounter police.
I have a deep sorrow, a sorrow for our country that seems to be waking up to the disparity of power and wealth and opportunity, and instead of seeking justice, many in our country continue to live in fear and impose oppression against that which they fear. Now I know the Quad Cities is not New York, Cleveland, or St. Louis. I think that’s why many of us like it here.  But we are not without our own  faults.  I encourage you to read the profiling report compiled by the Davenport Civil Rights Commission.  We must remember what affects the world affects us. Let us not blind ourselves to world around us.  We as a nation have deep wounds that still needs to be healed,
it is the wound of slavery,
the wound of Jim Crow,
the wound of discrimination,
the wound of racial profiling
the wound of consistent harassment of people of color,
the wound  of the school to prison pipeline,
the wound of poverty,
it is an open wound of ongoing racism that has become systemic in our society, and if we do not heal this wound, if we do not heal each other, that wound will fester and grow, and destroy us all.  We can not hide from this. Let us continue to educate ourselves, let us continually listen to what our brothers and sisters of color have to say about the circumstances of their lives, which trust me, most of us cannot even imagine, And let us be allies to people of color in their struggle for peace liberty and justice.