I just saw on the news today that the justice department, under Donald Trump, is now arguing that employers can fire LGBTQ folks. There are no protections afforded to the queer community.
"The question came up this week, when a lawyer for Trump's Department of Justice argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect LGBTQ Americans from being fired because of their sexual orientation—a complete reversal of the government's position on such matters under previous presidents." Yahoo News.
Hell. We knew there were no protections for us. Now we know that the government is going to make sure of it. I am not really outraged by this administration. I am wounded to my core. The cause of my woundedness is not necessarily the evil that is happening in Washington, D.C. but in my loved ones who voted for Trump. In my neighbors who voted for Trump. In my colleagues who voted for Trump. I am wounded by the Bernie Bots (Bernie Bros) who thought a scorched earth policy against Sec. Hillary Clinton was better than supporting and voting for her.
I hope your tax savings was worth the price of all the lives that have been harmed. That is what I want to yell at them all! Crap, I paid an extra $20,000 in taxes last year. My son's 504 plan decreased $3,000. Gas prices are high and we're starting trade wars willy nilly. But no matter, if you saved $50, it was worth it. *sarcasm*
I'm losing rights as a person with ovaries. I'm losing rights as a queer person. Children are being put in cages. National monuments are being drilled. The climate is deteriorating. Coal is held up as the holy grail while solar power and wind power is losing tax reductions. People are being shot and killed at astronomical rates. Racism and racial bias are at all time highs.
But hey. You got your tax relief.
I expect an apology in the mail today.
I want to be unforgiving. Punishing. Relentless. Angry. Sarcastic. Cruel. Merciless.
But that is not good for anyone. When I looked up forgiveness to find antonyms for the list above, the word that really popped out at me was mercilessness. To hold unforgiveness is to be merciless. Mercy-less. Woah. That is not what I want to be about. After all, the beloved scripture in Micah 6:8: What does the Holy One require of you? To act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. I can't really be a lover of mercy if I adhere to mercy-less-ness. Or at least, it feels wrong to me. Further, in my tradition, Jesus tells his followers: Be merciful (Luke 6:36a) after telling them explicitly that they should love their enemies and to turn the other cheek, give the person who steals your coat your shirt, do good to those who persecute you.
If I call myself Christian, I have to take those verses seriously.
I am not expert on other traditions, but what I have witnessed is that most traditions have room in them for an expansive view of mercy and forgiveness such as this. A quick internet search yields this:
- Islam: "Whoever suffers an injury and forgives (the person responsible), God will raise his status to a higher degree and remove one of his sins."
- Judaism: "Why should one forgive? Basically, because it is a mitzvah, a divine command. The Torah explicitly forbids us to take revenge or to bear grudges (Leviticus 19:18). It also commands us, “Do not hate your brother in your heart” (ibid. 19:17)."
- Buddhism: "Forgiveness practice is about liberating your own feelings and finding meaning in the worst of life's events. You practice forgiveness to be free of the inner violence of your rage, and you do not abandon the pursuit of right action. In fact, you gain clear seeing that allows you to use skillful means in bringing sustainable peace.
I'm sure there is even more to find. I resonate with the Buddhist thought that forgiveness is liberation of self. That to be merciless is to hold your own being hostage to anger, pain, and hatred. To be merciless is to enter into a fractured self-identity that centers your being on what was done wrong to you. An identity is built around wrong-ness rather than around loving-ness, mercy-ness, or forgive-ness. As we develop, I hope that we move through our sense of being wronged into relationships that center loving mercy and forgiveness. Over time, the unforgiveness and mercilessness rises up occasionally, but with practice, we can move through the internal swamp it creates towards healing.
Now, if I were arguing with myself, I would say that all those religious traditions have examples of extreme acts of mercilessness. That is true. I do not hold scripture to be written by God. I hold it to be written by humans with all the foibles and errors that humanity brings with it and to be inspired by their relationship with God. Perhaps this will be a discussion for another day. The temptation of literalism.
What are some practices to encourage forgiveness and mercy? Prayer, art, music, hiking, running...whatever practice gets you outside of yourself and connecting to the wider universe and allows you to see the beauty that exists within the brokenness of the world.
My prayer for you this day is that you will be able to release mercilessness and travel towards forgiveness of self and others, even in such a time as this.