Fire and Fury from the Golf Club

In-between rounds of golf, President Trump is engaged in a high stakes game of chest thumping between himself and Kim Jong-un  Through provocative tweets and over the top language our president is leading our foreign policy into uncertain  waters.

In response to North Korea’s apparent ability to launch a nuclear weapon to the USA, Mr. Trump has stepped up his threats.  Never one to be subtle, patient or educated on the nuances of an issue,  he has chosen to use language intended to humiliate and provoke his opponent.  In today’s New York Times (8/9/2017):

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is spending much of the month on a working vacation. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Referring to North Korea’s volatile leader, Kim Jong-un, Mr. Trump said, “He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said, they will be met with fire and fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

‘Fire and fury’ evokes images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  In 2013 the church I was serving in Oregon hosted survivors of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima.  Now elderly men and women they were children and teenagers when the bomb was dropped.  Known as the ‘Hibakusha’ which literally means ‘explosion-affected people’.

Once numbering 650,000 there are now approx. 173,000 who remain.  Witness’ to the horror of the bombing and the often life-long health effects.  http://www.hiroshimapeacemedia.jp/?lang=en

These survivors came to the United States in 2013  as ‘Ambassadors for Peace’. They came to tell their story with the hope that no one else would ever suffer the effects of nuclear war.  They came to bear witness to the 100,ooo who died the day the bomb dropped in Hiroshima and the 70,000 who died in Nagasaki.

Mr. Trump apparently has little interest in history.  Most likely he has never met a hibakusha, heard their stories, felt their pain.

Rather, our president who is easily slighted, impulsive and bored by details, is leading our nation and all who live on or in proximity to the Korean peninsula, into grave danger.  For the first time since World War 2, the Japanese who live along the north-west coast are taking part in air raid trainings.

Yet war, particularly nuclear war, is so horrific it must be unthinkable.  The answer remains with diplomatic initiatives by our nation and the neighboring nations of North and South Korea.  The hard, frustrating, long term work of finding ways to live together as a global community is the only way forward.

I am fearful for what will happen when two erratic, impulsive leaders, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are allowed to write history for the rest of us.  We can’t control what North Korea does but as citizens of the United States we can try to make our voices heard.

What can be done?  We can hope that calmer heads prevail in the Trump administration.  Thus far our president has proven resistant.

Another option is to call upon Congressional leaders to move towards impeachment based upon the inability of Mr. Trump to responsibly lead.   The 25th Amendment also places power within a president’s cabinet to remove a sitting president due to incapacity to lead.

As a citizen I’m getting educated.  A good overview can be found in this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/us/politics/how-the-impeachment-process-works-trump-clinton.html .

Meanwhile our president tweets and rages.  Lord have mercy.

From Scarcity to Abundance: Refugee Crisis, Part 2

In the previous blog we explored how our world is governed by the Economy of Scarcity. A scarcity mindset constricts the mind, imagination and heart. Scarcity teaches that there is only so much to go around and we must protect what is yours.

Desperate refugees fleeing civil war and grinding poverty in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and northern Africa are fleeing in record numbers to the gates of Europe. The response of the Hungarian government is a grim example of the scarcity mindset at work. That government has set up razor wire barriers and passed a law criminalizing any refugee who seeks to pass through.

Refugees-Hungarian-border-2015

Is there an alternative to scarcity thinking? Yes. The answer is found in an ancient story. Whether you take the story literally or metaphorically there are lessons to be had.

2000 years ago a healer and prophet named Jesus brought about a miracle. A crowd of 5000 had gathered to hear him. Late in the day his disciples urged Jesus to disperse the crowd so they could forage for food. Instead, Jesus had the crowd break into companies of 50 and 100. Then Jesus took his disciples scarce provisions, 5 loaves and two fish and offered everything he had to the crowd.

At first glance this seems like a hopeless and reckless gesture. How do you feed so many with so little?

Parker Palmer the theologian suggests that this intentional act of vulnerability led to the miracle. Moved by the generosity and selflessness of Jesus and his disciples, the crowd which had hidden away food of their own, began to share with others.

The miracle was that those who had nothing now had enough. Those who had much and a little had enough. And, points out Palmer, by breaking the vast crowd into companies of 50 and 100 it was no longer as easy to ignore or refuse to help. Now the person in need had a name, a story.

This is called the Gospel of Abundance. Translated to today’s refugee crisis, nations of the world have the capacity to solve this crisis. We have the resources to feed and place those who are fleeing war and poverty. We have the resources and capacity to solve the conditions that have led to the wars and poverty.

The Gospel of Abundance tells us that there is an alternative to fear which fuels scarcity thinking. When we act abundantly we make a series of choices: We choose to not give in to fear. We choose to take a risk and share what we have. We choose to open our hearts, minds and imagination to new ways of thinking, new ways of partnering to solve seemingly intractable problems.

Do we see examples of abundance at work? Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Jordan, Turkey have been on the front lines for many months and in some cases for years in housing and rescuing refugees. Germany has committed to receiving and housing up to 800,000 refugees in 2015 at a cost of 6.6 billion dollars.

Welcoming refugees

Such examples of abundance offers an example to the United States. My country has stood largely on the side lines and only recently agreed to receive 10,000 Syrians at an undetermined rate. We are capable of doing so much more.

As a pastor I see local communities of faith being capable of getting involved and making a difference. A committee in the church I serve is researching ways to lobby our elected officials to make our nation more generous. One step is to lobby for ‘The Protecting Religious Minorities Persecuted by ISIS Act’, now before Congress. We’re also looking into ways to partner and help house refugee families.

Imagine what happens when every church, synagogue, mosque, temple, tribe, city and nation is led by the Gospel of Abundance. 2000 years ago a prophet and healer named Jesus made a choice not to be governed by fear or scarcity. The result was a miracle. That same capacity for the miraculous is found within you and me and the communities we belong to. Don’t you think its time for another miracle?