There is a time for every season…

7-1266881542-07-pure-seattle-space-needle-and-rainI am weary.

As the grey of a Seattle winter approaches the winter solstice, I find myself feeling the weight of this time a little more keenly. Between fatherhood, work, graduate school, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter and post-election ministering, I haven’t had much of a chance to take a break. And the work is only getting harder.

My training teaches me that this is the time for self-care. Actually, the time for self-care should have been after going to Standing Rock. And then after the election. And then after the BLM march. Or after that presentation. Or after that mid-quarter paper. Really, after anything that required a lot of psycho-spiritual collateral. And I don’t have a good excuse for the not taking the time; I’m just horrible at saying “no” and there just never really seems to be enough time to do “everything.”

I’ve found myself responding to the election by not being able to look away from my news feed. I’ve been consuming every story that catches my eyes; about the escalation of hate crimes across the United States, the escalation of violence against DAPL protestors, more black men being killed by police and more police being acquitted, and Trump’s appointees and their slippery-slope repercussions. Every time I told myself to take a break, I would get sucked back in. Just one more story; one more article.

I realize that what I’ve been doing is arming myself. I’ve been taking an accounting of this early Trump era. I’ve been ticking off one offence after another and hoarding them. Because when my basket of brokenness is full, I’ll be laying it at the feet of every Trump supporter I come across. I so very much want to blame and shame them into submission; I want to beat them with the lash. I want them to pay in pain.

blm_black_friday_seattleAnd this is why I need to do some deep care. Because my psycho-spiritual reserves are depleted and I am tired, angry and weary. In this state, I am dangerous to myself and others. I cannot do the work I am called to do; to be a peace maker. I believe my call to ministry is to heal; through solidarity, listening, and forgiving. At my best I am available to people in vulnerability and love. I keenly see my shadow self right now, and as much as I want to embrace him, he is ultimately self-destructive.

And this era of Trump doesn’t need more self-destructive people. So I’m going to be taking some breaks leading up to the new year. I’ll be taking more walks through nature. I’ll re-discover non-digital reading. I’ll take advantage of more simple moments; good coffee and tea, fresh baked goods, and music that speaks to my soul.

So please check in with me. Ask me how I’m doing and really mean it. Make sure I’m doing my internal work so that my external work can flourish. Ask me to coffee. Come over for drinks. Take a silent walk with me. Let’s make sure we stay strong, because now is when we’re most needed.

Why I (don’t) support President Obama on Syria…

Yes. We. Can... invade other countries?
Yes. We. Can… invade other countries?

I’ve been an Obama supporter from the beginning. My wife and I were serving in the Peace Corps, living in Romania, desperately gobbling up any election information we could find before he was elected POTUS. It was an exciting time. Heather stayed up the whole night to watch him win. I went to bed, assured of his victory. I’ve supported his policies to reform our healthcare and immigration system. I still have hope; I still believe that “Yes, we can!”

Except for drone strikes. Except for draconian deportations that break up hard working families without criminal records. Most importantly, except for Syria. Just because we CAN do it, doesn’t mean we should. As much as I love listening to the man speak, my anti-war position was not swayed by his address to the nation last night. His points are valid; human history is filled with examples where millions died because nobody stepped in to help. I just don’t agree with them.

Anti-war Republicans? I don't believe they exist...
Anti-war Republicans? I don’t believe they exist…

Right now, the world is watching the Syrian conflict very closely. Its regime knows that it’s under a microscope and any wrong move could bring military action. Also, I don’t believe the United States should be the only superpower in the world that can throw its bombs around with impunity. We set up the United Nations and we should work within its procedures. Even the United Kingdom, one of our greatest allies, told us no. Heck, when was the last time a republican was against invading a country? So many people believe diplomacy can work in this situation that we should give it a chance.

How many more?
How many more?

Plus, I am tired of conflict. In this millennium, the American people were duped into a war and an invasion. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We never found Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Bush and his administration were wrong and United States citizens are still paying the price. Trillions of dollars spent (and not paid for), thousands of our service men and women dead, even more wounded, over one hundred thousand civilian casualties.

FAIL
FAIL

President Obama would like me to believe that these will be surgical strikes meant to punish a dictator for killing his own people. That we’ll only drop a few bombs and no actual troops will be on the ground. However, he cannot guarantee that MORE civilians will not be killed (by us) or that there will be victory. I remember Bush riding on the USS Abraham Lincoln giving his “Mission Accomplished” speech. For a man who is usually very pragmatic (and who holds a Nobel Peace Prize), I cannot understand why Obama is pushing so aggressively for military intervention.

Swords into plowshares...
Swords into plowshares…

This has been a hard decision for me. I want to support our President; I want to believe in his vision. But I cannot support him on this one. If the United States is still the greatest country in the world, I believe we should man up and act like it. If we put half as much money and energy into solving  global issues (and our own) of education, poverty, democracy and equality, I am confident we could change the world more than if we dropped a couple of bombs to slap a dictator on the wrist.

Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.