I am not questioning the Mayor’s solidarity with children of Israel. We as human beings are called to identify with the pain and suffering of fellow human beings. What I wonder is the selectivity: why visit only children of Israel, and not the children of Palestine?
Occupying people, destroying homes, participating in massacres in Shatila and Sabra (Sharon, 1982) are not the sign of “strength.” These are the marks of brutality. Brutality and strength must never be confused.
Often at this time of the year, we join in the prayer for peace on Earth, and goodwill to all men (and women). This year my prayer is a bit different.
I am also concerned that we are doing the same thing to Madiba that we have done to Malcolm X, and to a lesser extent, to Martin Luther King: whitewashing their radical prophetic legacy into nonthreatening champions of “reconciliation.”
This craving, this desire to fill ourselves with “things” is often a mask, a recognition that we are hollow on the inside, that there is something in us that is calling out to be fulfilled. That craving, however, is often not about things, but an opening in the heart that can only be filled by the love of another that makes us whole.
The history of Thanksgiving may not be real, but the love we share is real. The joy that comes from contentment is real. Expanding the circle of love and compassion is real. And for all that, we give thanks.
I watch in horror Christian preachers talk about how God wants you to be “blessed” with faith, wealth, health, and victory. And I wonder about the poor and the homeless, the immigrants and the marginalized ones, and where they fit into this false gospel of prosperity. Are they the un-blessed?
The moral blind spots of Nobel Peace Prize winners Obama, Elie Wiesel, and Ayung San Suu Kyi are a reminder that we have to keep each other accountable, even the most noble and beautiful of us. We have to insist that we practice moral constancy, and shine the light on those moral blind spots.
How are we to make sense of Madonna’s interest in Islam? It’s about a number of factors, ranging from Islamophobia to the entertainment industry to racial privilege. And the Islamic ethical tradition might have something to offer us here.