A James Baldwin quote showed up on the @zenchangeangel IG feed this morning. “The children are always ours, every single one of them, all over the globe; and I am beginning to suspect that whoever is incapable of recognizing this may be incapable of morality.” Rev. angel Kyodo williams’ comment reads: I haven’t had words. I’m grateful James Baldwin spoke the truth then and still now. Her reflection resonates.
There are millions of us out here, our words stolen from our throats, replaced with a swollen sorrow that is impossible to swallow, that no amount of deep breathing or chamomile tea can soothe. When words won’t come, the hour is holy. And this “holy war” is not only between two entities vying for power, each with its own bully in the playground, each with its own games of hide and seek. Each with its own innocent bystanders desperate for the appearance of the wise elders to rise and proclaim an end to the madness, the proliferation of fear, the destruction of dignity, the deconstruction of the civil foundations of courtesy, hospitality, welcome.
Have those three words been reduced to marketing tags for short-term beach side rentals, cruise ship vacations, and all-inclusive resorts? Why is it that courtesy, hospitality, and welcome have lost their places in the subtext of what makes human communities thrive? Back when I taught literature, I remember highlighting the thematic neighborliness that helped Odysseus as he searched for home. The benefits of hospitality were something that ninth graders could understand. By then, you know when you feel welcome and when you don’t. And most of them had learned an adjacent lesson in kindergarten. Share.
I grieve the poisoning of our message to the future, for it will live in the children who survive this hellish scene, replicated daily, hourly, NOW, in Gaza and Israel and Ukraine and Afghanistan and Venezuela and Syria and Uganda and Iran and, yes, even in the borderlands and food deserts of the good ol’ U. S. of A.
I’m with James Baldwin. This global morass has stripped too many men of morality and, I propose, of soul. Of heart. Of hope. How can millions of us SEE that, FEEL that, KNOW that evil is fueling pain. And in each human capable of adding fuel to the firestorm, pain fuels the evil. Deep wounds need a healing miracle.
Oh, Lord, God of Hearts That Are Sinking Under Waves of Despair, find your way into the cracks in the brittle souls so damaged by lack of courtesy, hospitality, welcome, so damaged from want of love, that they have been blinded to the tears of a child.