our bright future

'old-barn-with-american-flag' photo (c) 2011, From Sovereign to Serf -  Roger Sayles - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Diet Coke in hand, I plopped in front of the t.v. to watch the Republican National Convention where visions for the future are cast. (The Democrats are currently hosting their convention complete with vision casting.)

The candidate for President painted his picture of a ‘bright future’:

That America, that united America, will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it.


That America, that united America, will uphold the constellation of rights that were endowed by our Creator, and codified in our Constitution.

(more applause)

That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need.

(a chorus of crickets)

That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children.

My heart sunk. The loudest noise in that raucous hall was the silence when the candidate offered a vision of the future that included caring for the poor, sick, elderly and needy. Applause and wild hollering erupted for a strong military and constitution, but no cheers could be heard for helping the most vulnerable among us.

We were named in that silence. We were called out. Our silence said we care about our security and rights, but not about those in our country struggling on the underside of the economy or living in the shadow of injustice. We care about ‘me and mine’ and our bright future – not theirs.

I sat in a dark room ashamed. It was not about Republicans or Americans, in that moment it was about all us followers of Jesus co-opted by the wrong narrative. So many of us, some in that hall waving placards and others on our comfy couches at home, believe that our bright future is about our security, our rights, even our economic gain within that rubric. Our bright future is all about us.

An American Dream, perhaps. But it is not the bright future God dreams.

We are blessed to be a blessing, as children of Abraham. Our security should prompt us to secure the vulnerable ones who go to sleep each night at risk. Our rights should propel us outward to ensure rights of ‘the other’ living at the margins of society. Any abundance we experience ought to move us naturally toward our neighbors to share provision, goodness and good news.

God’s dream is blessing ever expanding, ever on the move outward to include more people in blessing’s embrace. He does not stop with ‘me and mine’ – no – the orphan, widow and immigrant remain in His purview at all times. The tent will even increase with the inclusion of eunuchs, sojourners, Samaritans, prostitutes, tax collectors, winos, Roman soldiers and thieves. Even enemies receive welcome in God’s stunning dream for a bright future.

Jesus elaborates on this idea of what the Good Life looks like in the Sermon on the Mount. At a time when only the wealthy, the Jews, the men were considered truly blessed, Jesus sketches out a different line-up of people eligible for the title of ‘blessed.’ Sitting on a Palestinian hillside with the city’s poorest, He said the poor and bereaved (that’s them!) are blessed. All who show mercy, hunger for justice and are peacemakers also are considered blessed. Even those who see the world differently (maybe those who live by another story or are guided by a different dream) and are persecuted for it can still stand as those blessed by God. Our possessions, position, tribe or security do not define the Good Life. How we live out goodness in the neighborhood seems much more definitive of the Good Life according Jesus.

First I am a follower of Jesus. But sometimes I hold my political affiliation too tight. I think of myself as an American citizen, white and middle-class. You might find me waving a big placard wildly in some hall cheering for the wrong dream.

But that one silence amid the candidate’s speech snapped me back to reality. I want a bright future that includes not only care for the poor – but actually includes them in the blessed place we are going.

The poor, sick, elderly and needy are each created in God’s image, each one eligible for blessing. Working together for justice in our neighborhoods is the Good Life we are called to as Jesus people. It may not be what Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Americans or our government is called to, but it is God’s dream.

Tonight I want to go to sleep with God’s dream for a bright future. Then I want to wake and live it out.

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3 thoughts on “our bright future”

  1. Ali Valdez
     ·  Reply

    Well written and heartfelt, as always. I have really this year wanted to walk away from any association to anything ‘party’, avoiding the absurdity of pomp and shallow rhetoric of either convention, chosing my own path with causes like Yoga Behind Bars and Yoga Gives Back. My bright future is based on my word for the year “ACT”. I agree we must wake up and in our own way’s live it out!

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