Our Country’s Grand Canyon

mountains majesty
AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN

 

I am weirdly patriotic. As cynical as I often feel about our country–about its sanctity of capitalism, its perverse bureaucracies–I have a ready-made soft spot for the pageantry of this land.

In the years following September 11th, I teared up singing the third verse of “America”: Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears….

When I traveled to Washington for work, I was drawn to the avenues crowded with granite-faced monuments, testaments of our people’s hard-fought efforts.

I choke up anytime a military officer tenderly hands a spouse the flag that moments ago draped a casket. It doesn’t matter whose.

There is something comforting about our systems, the simple drawings of our order: the conformity of interstate highway markings, the plain hues of printed money. Even the modern aesthetic of National Park signs moves me, the efforts to carefully note the blessed continental cathedrals wrought by time and, depending on your point of view, the Creator. Continue reading “Our Country’s Grand Canyon”

I Talked to Conservatives about the #MuslimBan. You Should, Too.

no trespassing sign
AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN

 

I’ll bet you didn’t think you’d spend the weekend talking about immigration policy.

In the wake of President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the national political conversation has exploded among two camps: those who believe we are veering toward 1930s Germany, and those who think we finally have a leader willing to stick up for American security interests.

I happen to disagree strongly with this action, but in my zen-like quest to quit engaging these issues using anger as my sole vehicle, I figured there was no time like now to get started on peaceful conversations.

So last night on Facebook, I asked for some help from my conservative friends: Continue reading “I Talked to Conservatives about the #MuslimBan. You Should, Too.”

Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King.

civil rights protest in Birmingham, AL
OP-ED

To live in an America free of prejudice requires constant work–work that may never be finished.

There are people far better equipped to write poignantly and eloquently about this day’s celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., but I am mindful of the fact that offering up words of encouragement and support and empathy is important.

Today ought to be a day in which we look for unity, to applaud our forward momentum, to carefully reconsider our missteps. That’s what I felt growing up–this was a celebratory day, not a reminder of how far we have to go–and even now I’m troubled by how wide that chasm seems.

The nation’s intensified gaze upon our growing racial divide, sharpened among police brutality, riots, and elections, has emboldened a lot of people harboring racist words and deeds. I always wanted to believe they were the human equivalent of carnival sideshows–Look! A racist! What a creature!–but in truth so many of them live and breathe openly among us. Continue reading “Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King.”