Category Archives: Social justice

I am not a monster; I am a boy

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Micah often talks about how he doesn’t like school. It breaks my heart. As a veteran teacher, I know that there is more to the story, but he is only three. His parents and I are taking his concerns seriously as we make a holistic assessment of the situation.

Play with his peers is one topic that comes up a lot when Micah is with me. He complains that the other children call him a monster. He reports that his reply is, “I am not a monster, I am a boy.” Something has penetrated deeply here, because I heard him repeat this to unfamiliar children at the museum when he wanted to share their crawlspace. He mentioned it again yesterday while we ate a leisurely lunch. It bothers him on a deep level, and so it bothers me.

Micah will be alright. He has a loving and attentive family. We are working with the teachers. We have options and we can move him to another preschool if things do not improve. By society’s standards, any one can see that he isn’t a monster. But my tender heart leans towards him, and towards all who suffer at the hands of others who dismiss our humanity.

On Tuesday, my dear friend and I had an encounter with a young beggar on the street. Born with severe deformities and nearly no legs, Jake is wheelchair bound, no taller than three feet. He is, at the young age of 20, an orphan. So starved was he for attention and kindness, that when I asked him to tell me his story, a long and steady torrent of words flowed out, continuing with no pause or punctuation for as long as we could remain. It isn’t clear how he survives, or to whom he belongs, apart from God. What touched me most deeply was his own sense of determination to live with dignity. As I listened with my heart, I heard Jake say, “I am not a monster; I am a boy.”

Yes, a boy. But more than a boy. A beloved son of the Father. And someday, that understanding will make all the difference in the world. John 8:31-32.

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That The Spirit May Be Alive

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Show me the suffering of the most miserable, so I will know my people’s plight. Free me to pray for others, for you are present in every person. Help me take responsibility for my own life, so that I can be free at last. Grant me courage to serve others, for in service there is true life. Give me honesty and patience, so that the Spirit will be alive among us. Let the Spirit flourish and grow, so that we will never tire of the struggle. Let us remember those who have died for justice, for they have given us life. Help us love even those who hate us, so we can change the world. Amen.

– A prayer by Cesar Chavez

What does God demand of us?

Heroes dedicate their lives, even to the point of death, to promote love, justice, and unity through a commitment to non-violence.

How can this be?

Admittedly, I don’t ask this question gently.  I am outraged.  Today in Georgia, Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed for a murder that many, including Jimmy Carter, are convinced he never committed.  How is it possible that the United States, land of the free, is the world’s highest jailer?  How is it possible that black men are 5 times as likely to be incarcerated than men of other races, and that 6 out of 10 black men who drop out of high school will spend some time in prison by the time they reach their mid-thirties?  How can we continue to throw away precious lives?  The prison industrial complex must be reformed.  The educational system must be reformed.  Our society must be reformed.  I literally weep for Troy Davis and for our collective brokenness.