Monday, January 15, 2018
Last week, I had a conversation with a hospice patient that touched me deeply. He was an African American man born in the South in the 1920s. And as he told it, he had seen so much violence and hatred in his lifetime--in fact, he said that when he was a young man, he would have been killed for talking to me alone as we were. What was it all for, he wanted to know. And where was religion? Did I think that the world was a better place because of a belief in God? He was thinking not only of our present challenges--terrorists in the name of Islam, Catholic priests who molest children--but of all the white preachers who supported racism especially in the Civil Rights era. He was incredulous, saddened, at the anger and hatred. He said he believes that God is love and wishes more people knew that, acted like it. I said that I vacilate in my thoughts on religion--that there has been much violence and prejudice and hatred in the name of God and belief systems, but that I had also seen many people trying to help their fellow humans and the world--feeding the hungry at our local soup kitchens and food pantries, collecting clothes and coats for those in need, housing the homeless in our churches during the winter, working for non-violence and social justice and the like. He asked me if I had any good news. I told him that I had hope for the future, paraphrasing King, that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice. That while we couldn't have talked like this in his childhood, we can now and I teach my children so that they recognize the inherent worth and dignity of all people and work for justice and equality. He seemed to agree. We said goodbye soon after. I hope I get to talk to him again.