Peace, Love and Understanding
By Randy Weeks
As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.
I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know:
What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love & understanding? Ohhhh,
What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love & understanding?
— Elvis Costello
esus met me at 4:30 p.m. on The Balcony above City Grocery in Oxford last week. It was 88˚F on a cloudless day. There’s full-out sunshine in my corner until around 6:30 p.m., so we were both pretty hot. Jesus had the advantage, having been brought up in the Middle East.
We both got glasses of ice water and I fully expected Jesus to do his standard water-to-wine trick. Instead he said, It’s too hot for wine. I think I’ll try one of those Yalobusha Brewery beers.
I brought out bottles of Snopes Family Pilsner and Mississippi Blues Trail. Jesus pointed and said, I want that one, so Jesus got the Blues.
A few sips in Jesus asked, Randy, have you ever seen that new show on CNN called “United Shades of America”? The host is a guy named W. Kamau Bell. They call him a comic and political provocateur.
I’ve seen the commercials but I haven’t watched the show yet.
You should, and I’ll tell you why. Bell travels the U.S. making documentaries in race-based subcultures. He’s a down-home funny fellow who’s genuinely interested in people’s stories.
Sounds like it’s right down my alley. What subcultures?
Native Americans on reservations, inner-city gangs, the elderly in retirement homes – he even went to a KKK cross-burning.
You gotta be kidding me! A black comedian went to a KKK cross-burning and lived to tell about it? He must have a death wish!
Listen. Bell’s sense of humor is so disarming that people who typically wouldn’t talk to him or would be hostile towards him open up and say some crazy stuff! In the KKK episode Bell was interviewing the white nationalist, Richard Spencer Spencer said, “We’re here to talk about white privilege. We wanna bring it back. Make white privilege great again.” My jaw dropped to the floor! I said out loud, “This is sad. This narrow-minded, hard-hearted, blinded-to-self simpleton is hanging himself with his own words!” Bell’s ability to pull that off – it’s just brilliant!
So is the point to let people paint themselves into a corner so we can see how bigoted their thinking is?
Partially – but the ultimate goal is to use understanding as a way of bringing about peace and harmony – maybe even love. You and I both know that all you need is love – in action. Love really is what it’s all about, Randy.
My main concern with “United Shades of America” is that some folk are gonna use it to mock and judge rather than to learn and understand. Their hearts and eyes are shut tight. You know, the Buddha said, “Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.” And “Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased.”
That makes me think about the Good Samaritan and your teachings about loving others as you’ve loved us, loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, and taking care of “the least of these.”
And Paul’s words: “Live in harmony with everybody. As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Blessed are the peacemakers, Randy.
I’m gonna check out that show. Maybe it’ll help me with some of my preconceived notions.
Good. Let me know what you think. Now let’s go in. It’s hot as Hades out here.
By the way – good choice on the beer. Next time I’ll try the Snopes…and you can get the Blues.
Randy Weeks is a minister and a counselor. He lives and writes in Oxford. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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