Wednesday, July 26, 2017

In which I mourn my friend.

There was once a teacher from the Public Education System whom I respected greatly.

He was the one primarily responsible for piquing my lifelong interest in math and civics.  He pushed the ideal that any problem that can be modeled by mathematics can be studied, can be understood, can be acted upon within the bounds of the problem domain.  He believed that being educated in the functional structure of government empowered a person to be a good citizen, to engage positively in the democratic process.  Not a practicing Christian of any specific denomination, he was a decent person and believed in the existence of God just like everyone else where I grew up.  Not highly political, he leaned Democrat and valued the hard workers of America be they cowboys, nurses, or assembly line workers.

Long after I left school, in his own middle age, he hit a speed bump in the road of life developing an addiction to prescription painkillers.  After a brief season of chemical induced crazy, he became Born Again and adopted a Charismatic Christian lifestyle.  In rural Oklahoma this also means adopting dogmatic, ideological Republicanism.  And he changed.

Gone was the rational, thoughtful, balanced individual I had admired and respected as a child.  In his place is an angry, fearful, hateful man.  By virtue of his chosen religiosity, he has incorporated a worldview holding that Democrats are evil secular humanists who deny God and worship at the altar of Socialism.  Republicans on the other hand acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and humbly follow the will of God, only to get persecuted and ridiculed by the liberals for their efforts.

I cannot abide this worldview, nor the changes it wrought in my friend.  It is overly simplistic and willfully ignorant, painting the veneer of a false dichotomy on the face of our complex and ever-changing society.  It took a man who had compassion for the poor, who accepted students for who they were regardless of their expressed sexual orientation, and created instead a person with open and agitated hostility towards "poor, lazy welfare takers" and the "godless, liberal gay activists".

Working in collusion, Breitbart, Fox News, the GOP, and Charismatic Christian Nationalism, killed my mentor.  Yes, I grieved the loss of my friend.  Yes, I'm still damn angry about it.  No, I can no more change the material facts of this reality than I can add a cubit to my stature.

So, what do I do?  Well, for one thing I cook.  I cook for Muslims, I cook for atheists and agnostics, I cook for Pro-Choice Gay Socialist Liberals.  I welcome them into my home, I feed them, and I love on them.  I share in their joys, fears, and ambitions.  I share my own experiences of life as sailor, nerd, Believer.  All the people he now hates borne of misguided religiosity, I will embrace.

Since I believe in a Sovereign God, I am forced to accept that the reality I live in is supposed to be this way, at least for now.  So I will quiet my soul, I will pray a prayer of guidance, and I will speak out against religious bigotry and class hatred in my writing.  And tonight, because my Lord has shown favor to me today, Sarah and I will eat well, slumbering in an air conditioned house on a comfortable mattress, recharging our physical and spiritual batteries to face the evils tomorrow will certainly bring.