Black Lives Matter

George Floyd (1973–2020)

George Floyd (1973–2020)

Here at Spiritual Insights we have watched with concern the debate raging in the United States over the saying “Black Lives Matter.” For many years we’ve been appalled by the systemic abuse of the police power against our black and brown neighbors. Accordingly, we were appalled at the death of George Floyd from excessive force by the Minneapolis Police Department. (And for every abuse that is filmed, you can be sure that a number of others occurred that were not filmed.)

When we started Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life, we committed to never taking the easy way out when addressing difficult subjects. We have worked hard to offer substantive answers on sensitive subjects. “No hollow platitudes” has been our commitment.

And so over the years we have posted articles about racism and the abuse of power. Some of them are linked at the end of this article. We invite you to read them.

Short version: Racism is derived from a corrupted love of self that leads people to love only people who are like themselves. Abuse of power coupled with racism is a recipe for a hellish existence for all people—including the racists themselves, who live in their own little hell of self-absorption and fear of the “other.”

Lost in the acrid debate over “Black lives matter” vs. “All lives matter” is the deeper question of why God created different races of people on our earth.

Do Black lives matter?

Time and again American institutions have failed to demonstrate that Black lives matter as much as the lives of other socio-ethnic groups. In 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charge of second-degree murder after he shot to death seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin. In a Facebook post that day, civil rights activist Alicia Garza lamented that there were people celebrating his acquittal. “I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter,” she said, concluding her statement with, “Our lives matter.” In response to Garza’s post, her friend Patrisse Cullors created the twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. The hashtag gained momentum in 2014, and exploded in 2015.

Opposing hashtags, #AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter were quickly created, and a fierce debate began about which slogan had the most merit. People soon took sides, and became entrenched in them.

However, taking sides in the which-lives-matter debate is tied up with a false premise. American history has demonstrated that there is no question that White and Blue lives matter. Heavy penalties are paid when those lives are taken. We can’t, however, look at our history and honestly say that the same holds true for our Black neighbors. Until heavy penalties are likewise paid when Black lives are taken, it becomes necessary for American society to verbally affirm that Black lives do indeed matter.

Affirming that Black Lives Matter takes nothing away from any other group of people. Nobody is saying that Black lives matter more than any other lives. Nobody is saying that by verbalizing Black Lives Matter, all other lives no longer matter, or don’t matter as much. The phrase simply shines a light on a group of people whose lives haven’t mattered to the larger society for centuries.

Credit: Instagram/Sarah Wills Photo

Credit: Instagram/Sarah Wills Photo

Where does racism come from?

Why don’t Black lives matter as much as White and Blue lives in so many people’s minds?

Scientist, philosopher, and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) listed four primary categories of love that drive human beings. Here they are in their proper order of priority:

  1. Love of the Lord
  2. Love of the neighbor
  3. Love of the world
  4. Love of self

When these are in their proper order in our mind and heart, all of them are good and healthy.

Healthy self-love prompts us to take care of ourselves and improve ourselves in mind and body so that we will be mentally and physically fit to serve God and our fellow human beings.

Heathy love of worldly things—money, possessions, and so on—prompts us to provide the necessities of life for ourselves and our families, ideally with some left over so that we can better serve our fellow human beings in practical ways.

Loving our neighbor—our fellow human beings, both friends and enemies alike—is what God put us on earth to do. Not just loving them in a theoretical way, but loving them by engaging in useful service and acts of kindness toward them.

And loving God, when we put it first in our lives, means that we will make it our life’s goal and mission to love and serve the people whom God has made—as Jesus taught us in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31–46.

It’s when we push love of the world and love of self up into the top spots in our priority list that the problems begin.

When we do that, a healthy love of the world for the means it provides us to accomplish good becomes instead an unhealthy love of acquiring wealth, possessions, and pleasures by whatever means necessary, including by lying and cheating and stealing other people’s money and possession for ourselves.

And a healthy self-esteem that prompts us to become our best self so that we can serve others becomes instead an unhealthy egocentricity that causes us to think of ourselves as better than everyone else, and to think that we should dominate and control everyone else, while their only role is to serve us.

Racism is an extension of unhealthy self-love

But there is also a broader version of self-love. We can see this in the way organized crime families, for example, commonly have an exaggerated love for their own families and relatives. They do everything to benefit their own families, including committing horrific crimes against anyone who isn’t in their family and who gets in their way.

That’s because when we are driven by unhealthy self-love, we think of our family, our friends, and everyone who likes us and agrees with us as extensions of ourselves. These are “our people,” whereas everyone else is “not our people.” We love “our people.” We don’t care about everyone else, and we even hate them if they don’t serve our goals and our needs.

Now think of this in terms of racial and ethnic groups. These are like large extended families of people who have common origins and ancestries. Based on its common origin and ancestry, each race shares particular racial characteristics such as skin color, hair type, and facial features.

It’s a short leap to thinking that the people who look like us are “our people,” whereas the people who don’t look like us are “not our people.” And when we selfishly think that “our people” are better than “other people,” racism has reared its ugly head.

In short, racism is an extended version of unhealthy self-love, in which we think that we and our people are better than their people, and that we should therefore rule, and they should serve us.

Why are there different races?

Biologically, the question of different races is a complicated one, given that scientists believe we all came from common roots on evolutionary time scales.

But this is a spiritual blog, not a science blog. And from a spiritual perspective, the reason there are different races is very simple: We humans are of different races because God created us to be of different races.

The biblical background for this will have to wait for another post. For now, I’ll just say that if anyone ever tries to tell you that in the Bible God cursed the Black race and made it a servant to the White race, that person is so ignorant and uninformed about what the Bible actually says that you should not listen to anything that person says about God, the Bible, or really, about anything else.

For now, it is enough to say that both in the Bible story and in the human world as a whole, God created and arranged for us to be of different races. And God did that for a very good reason.

If we look at the world around us, both the world of nature and the world of human society, we can’t help noticing the vast variety and diversity in everything God has made. In nature, there are millions of distinct species, each filling its own particular niche in the ecosystem. Even within a particular species, no two plants and no two animals are ever exactly alike.

The very same is true of human society. There are now billions of humans on earth, no two of whom are exactly alike. And they belong to millions of different families, clans, and cultures.

Did God make a mistake in creating us all to be different from one another? Not at all! In fact, God’s plan requires all different people, in all different families, clans, and cultures. Each individual human being and each family, clan, culture, and race has something unique to add. Together, in all our differences, we form a much stronger human race.

As an example of how this works, consider a company that manufactures cars. An auto manufacturer certainly needs, say, accountants. But what if every single employee were an accountant? Would any cars get manufactured? I think not! Manufacturing automobiles is a complex business. It requires people of all different characters, personalities, and skills to make it work.

Similarly, God saw that for the human race to work, there had to be all different types of people. The different races of people are part of the diversity that is required for real and strong unity in humankind. In short:

Every race, ethnicity, clan, and family adds to the whole.

Does this mean that God created some races to rule, and others to serve? No. Rather, within each race there are some people who are natural-born leaders, and many others who are willing followers. God has provided that each race and nation has within it the capabilities required to run a healthy human society.

Yet it is in the friendly and cooperative interaction of all the different races and nations that humankind reaches its greatest effectiveness and potential. Each adds its own unique character and contribution to the whole, so that together we are stronger than we could ever be separately.

Black Lives Matter

This is why Black lives matter. Black Lives Matter is about recognizing that Blacks are important to the country and to the world. Blacks have their own unique contributions that no one else can make in the same way.

When Black Lives Matter, everyone will be better off. Everyone will benefit from the richness of partnership with one of the races that God has created to be an integral part of the richness of our beloved human race.

This is why we hope you, our readers, will join us in affirming that Black Lives Matter.

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Current Events, Science Philosophy and History
39 comments on “Black Lives Matter
  1. All American Guy says:

    Hi Lee,

    Interesting post. Since there are many minorities working in these police departments across the country, are you saying that these black lives engage in racism?

    The police departments across the country are hardly a white bastion anymore, So I find your comment about police departments engaging in racism hollow.

    Also, you ignore some of the horrific violent crimes of George Floyd and the fact that he was high on street drugs when apprehended.

    You also seem to give a pass to BLM for not speaking out about innocents being murdered By gangs on the streets of Chicago and other cities on a daily basis. Do these black lives not matter?

    How about the systemic racism surrounding the founder of Planned Parenthood (Margaret Sanger) and the efforts “to control the black population.” Do these aborted black babies lives not matter?

    Why does BLM only stand up for the worst in society and not the innocents? On these

    You also seem to ignore in all this the murder by BLM looters and rioters of David Dorn, a black police captain. Does his black life not natter?

    BLM itself is a form of reverse racism, advocating for self segregation. Now, when I look at my black coworkers, I have in my subconscious that they look at me differently, and may harbor ill views towards me. I know I also speak for others. BLM has led to a toxic environment, with violence, looting, riots, murder, divisiveness, and property destruction.

    I think the much more spiritual approach would be to say All Lives Matter

    • Lee says:

      Hi All American Guy,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’ll respond to some of your specific points later, in a separate comment.

      But first, I have a question for you:

      If you brought your car to your mechanic and said, “The whole car matters,” what would the response be?

      Obviously the whole car matters. But that’s not why you’re bringing it to the mechanic. What the mechanic needs to know is, “What’s broken?”

      Similarly, Jesus said, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean” (John 13:10).

      It’s a matter of focusing our attention on the specific problem that needs fixing. That’s where we get the most bang for our buck.

      • All American Guy says:

        Hi Lee,

        Understood, but considering the number of black homicides in Chicago, Newark, LA, Cleveland, St Louis, Detroit and elsewhere (to say nothing of the aborted black babies at PP) I would say our “biggest bang for our buck” is not the relatively few killed by police.

        That logic rings hollow as well. 🤔

        • Lee says:

          Hi All American Guy,

          Are you saying that we should judge the actions of police by the same standards that we judge the actions of criminals?

          With great power comes great responsibility. This is something every police officer should know. Any police office who doesn’t understand what this means should not be wearing the badge and carrying the gun.

          In short, it’s a false equivalency, and bad logic.

        • All American Guy says:

          Hi Lee,

          You were the one to make the goal for reform our “biggest bang for our buck.” And the numbers don’t stack up in your favor.

          You are making silly arguments about police. They should be held liable for their actions, when they are ILLEGAL, not simply from a terrible situation brought on by the perpetrator (we all know “hands up don’t shoot” turned out to be as truthful as Jussie Smollet’s attack)

          Let’s look at the FBI crime statistics. Given those statistics, you would expect to see these incidents occur more with those committing crime, not from “systemic racism”, a phrase coined by BLM and the DNC.

          Also see my response to Michelle… children raised wo a responsible father figure in the household is a far greater problem.

        • All American Guy says:

          Speaking of false equivalencies… since more violent white suspects are inadvertently killed by police, would you support a White Lives Matter movement in the same vein?

          Would you support mass rioting, looting, violence and property destruction anytime this happens to a white suspect?

          If not, why not? 🤷🏼‍♂️

    • Rami says:

      Hi All American Guy,

      In regards to so-called ‘black on black crime,’ which you seem to be referring to, it itself is an outgrowth of those same institutional inequities that devalue black lives that the BLM movement seeks to address- inequities that no one can reasonably deny exist. And yes, no one can also reasonably deny that there are serious maladies that plague predominantly black communities, like gang violence, substance addiction, blight, etc. But this isn’t because black people are inherently predisposed to this, or because they somehow prefer this lived experience (and no, I’m suggesting you think this is the case).

      What you see is what happens to impoverished people. It’s what happens when you deprive people of opportunity, of education, of resources. That, and American society has *always* sought to preserve the social hierarchy where black people are at the very bottom, away, and out of sight. These communities exist due to an ongoing program ‘keep the blacks away,’ where law enforcement acts- at least in part- to ‘keep the blacks in-‘ keep them in their neighborhoods. When you combine this type of social isolation with a legacy of poverty, you have a perfect breeding ground for the grim every day realities you described. Impoverishment is itself an act of violence.

      So it’s not as though placing an emphasis on violence committed by police against black people comes at the expense of acknowledging the intra-violence that pervades many black communities; all these things- from police brutality to broken families- are interconnected.

      • All American Guy says:

        I think Dr Ben Carson And Senator Tim Scott disagree with you.

        Considering their life story vs. your own, I’m sorry to have to defer to their opinions.

        You seem to be promoting the idea of ‘victimhood’ which intellectually lazy, and quite frankly boring.

  2. MIchelle Mattei says:

    “… systemic abuse of the police power against our black and brown neighbors.” Using political talking points does not sit well with me. I do not drink the kool-aid, nor pass it around.

    All lives matter!

    Please remove me from your mailing list.

    Thank you

    • Lee says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I would encourage you to set the over-wrought politics aside, and look at the reality of the situation, both historically and in the present. See also my response to All American Guy just above.

      To respond to your request: This is a WordPress.com hosted site. I do not have the ability to remove you from the mailing list. However, you can do it yourself any time you wish. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of any email that comes from this website.

    • All American Guy says:

      I’m with you Michelle. I found this site one of the most intelligent and insightful…

      Until I read this post. It sounds like something written by BLM’s public relations dept.

      Maybe Lee should be addressing some of the causes of problems in the black community, such as 73% of black babies being born out of wedlock. It certainly didn’t used to be this way. They used to have a rate similar to other races… and this problem can hardly be attributed to “systemic racism” since it wasn’t always this way..

      But no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room.

      • Lee says:

        Hi All American Guy,

        Yes! Precisely! We should be talking about these problems! This, too, is part of Black Lives Matter.

        I don’t agree with everything the BLM movement does. It’s a messy world we live in. But until we get real answers to the question of why things are so much worse for Black people in general, we will never find any real solutions.

        • All American Guy says:

          I have never, ever seen BLM talk about these problems, simply bc they cannot put the blame on anyone but themselves!

          Seems like you’re fighting the wrong battle!

        • Lee says:

          Hi All American Guy,

          Are you seriously saying that it’s Black people’s own fault that a massively disproportionate number of Black people are poor, and live in poverty-stricken areas? Are your really, seriously saying that?

        • All American Guy says:

          Not at all. If you READ what I wrote, prior to the 1960’s, children born out of wedlock amongst the black population was not much different than any other race.

          Are YOU seriously saying that all poor people are inherently prone to not value a stable family? Seriously??

        • Lee says:

          Hi All American Guy,

          So . . . What changed? Did Black people purposely set out to destroy their own communities?

          The question is, why has so much of the Black community been so heavily damaged?

          You can’t seriously believe that Black people set out to destroy their own communities.

        • All American Guy says:

          I think that’s what I’m asking you. What did change when it hasn’t changed nearly to the same degree w any other group?

          Some think tanks have traced it to the rise of the welfare state created by Johnson’s “Great Society” policies..

          BTW, I thought you were the one to be providing these kinds of insights rather than regurgitating BLM/DNC talking points? 🤔

        • Lee says:

          Hi All American Guy,

          A question is not a talking point.

          And yes, I could get into the political issues involved. However, that’s not the purpose of this blog.

          But it is the purpose of this blog to get people thinking about these issues from a position of love and concern for the people involved. Blacks are not purposely destroying their own communities. If you can come to some understanding of why their communities are getting destroyed, then you can start doing things that actually make things better.

        • All American Guy says:

          Why are they getting destroyed? Lately from rioting and looting.

        • Lee says:

          Hi All American Guy,

          That’s a shallow answer, and you know it. Think deeper.

        • All American Guy says:

          It’s actually the correct answer. And BLM has been promoting it!

          I went to college in Los Angeles.. USC right next to Watts which was destroyed in the riots of late 60s early 70s. After the violence and destruction the businesses left. It had become what they call a food desert, as there were no supermarkets in close proximity leaving locals to shop at corner stores at much higher prices.

          The city convinced Vons to build a brand new supermarket right in that neighborhood. For the first time in almost 2 decades they got a modern supermarket.

          During the Rodney King riots, the Vons was looted and destroyed. Never to reopen.

          Can you blame them? Maybe your insights should be why BLM is so focused on rioting, looting, violence and destruction?

          What purpose does it serve?

          No one forced the locals to loot and destroy their own supermarket. No one. We see the same things going on today. Why would a business return after being destroyed? It’s obvious that the local residents didn’t value the services the business provided or else they wouldn’t have destroyed it.

          Newark NJ and Detroit were once prosperous cities (Detroit being the most prosperous at one time) Rioting destroyed both of them. The middle class left and neither city has ever recovered (same is true for many others)

          There’s an old saying; sometimes you have to accept the results of the choices you make.

        • All American Guy says:

          Also, why do we not see rioting, looting, property destruction, assaults, etc, etc when police inadvertently kill a suspect (usually due to the suspect’s own actions)? 🤔

          We have seen this before with the riots in the late 60’s and early 70’s

          Why is it that violence and getting “free stuff” from looting (advocated by BLM) is the answer to the problem? 🤔

          I think MLK, who never advocated AGAINST all these things is looking down and appalled at what he sees.

        • Rami says:

          Hi AAG,

          I’m going to address your replies to both me and Lee in this one. The way you’ve sketched the overall situation reflects, to me, why conversations like this seem to always end at a kind of impasse, because the people involved are almost always speaking from two different but relevant angles.

          On the one hand, you have many members and supporters of BLM who describe what’s happening in terms of history. They talk about the reverberatng legacy of slavery and racism, and account for most everything you mentioned in those terms. And yet, in that discourse, little mention seems to be made of personal accountability. Things like looting, vandalism, and violence are given an almost deterministic spin where people aren’t held responsible for the choices they make.

          On the other hand are perspectives like yours, which seemingly place all the emphasis on personal accountability while saying little of history. From that view (and please correct me if I’m misrepresenting yours), the basic thesis seems to be ‘stop blaming your choices on the past,’ where looting and destruction are acts of self-serving opportunism rather than expressions of mounting frustration and rage at being socially disenfranchised members of socially disenfranchised communities. In that view, racism is just used as a smokescreen for people to commit crimes they were always bent on committing.

          One thing that becomes clear from exploring either view is that both offer overly-simplistic narratives of otherwise complex situations, though I admittedly find the one you’re pushing as the more narrow and superficial. That aside, it’s not without elements of truth, and therein lies the point: more than one thing can be true at the same time. The history of racism and impoverishment in America may frame an *understanding* of why some people choose to do what they do, but that’s not to say they’re not accountable for the choices they make. But there’s complexity even within that idea of accountability.

          For instance, with regards to looting, breaking open a Nike store and rushing out with a new pair of Jordans hardly seems like an act of desperation. It’s not like designer shoes are an essential supply that the Institution has been withholding from black communities. Yet, and I recall a looter basically describing this in his own words: when you grow up in a material culture, and you have little material of your own; when you’re surrounded by advertisements, and witness well-to-do people walking around flaunting the finer things in life, and you have nothing of your own- you want it to. You *do* feel deprived, because you live in a culture that assigns value in to owning things. But you don’t own anything. So yeah, it’s much easier to smash open a window and take what you can’t have than to earn it in a system that’s not set up with you in mind.

          As for as this idea of ‘their communities,’ first of all, it’s true: destroying your community…destroys your community. It took Watts *decades* to recover, and some places, never fully recovered. Additionally, not every business that is or gets looted is some national chain that can bear the brunt of losing a single store. Many of them are locally, independently owned businesses. I remember seeing story about a black business owner who finally fulfilled his lifelong dream of opening his own BBQ restaurant in his own community only to have it utterly destroyed on the first night of riots. The owner was devastated and it was heartbreaking. I’m sure there are similar stories. That said, realize that many people who live in these communities don’t consider it ‘their’ communities. This isn’t something they built. They don’t truly own anything. The ‘hood’ isn’t where they live, it’s where they’re kept. If they don’t appear to have much loyalty to ‘their’ communities and are content to burn it down, it’s not hard to see why.

          So you may have noticed my post is all over the place, and that’s consistent with my point. If you’ve followed Lee’s blog long enough, you know by now that human realities are layered, complex things that are rarely black and white. It’s not my place to make moral assessments of black people looting in the wake of a police murder, and I’m not arrogant enough to offer any solutions; they’re lived experience is dramatically different than mine. But it *is* our responsibility to try and understand, and that means resisting simplistic, skin-deep explanations that basically amount to ‘make better life choices.’ It’s, again. not that simple.

        • All American Guy says:

          Hi Rami,

          Thank you for your thoughtful response.

          However, I have to disagree with you. Personal accountability is everything, otherwise there is chaos.

          Please explain to me why the percentage of black children born out of wedlock stands at 73%, when in 1965 it stood at 25%.

          Growing up w no male role model to look up to makes young males look for a role model unfortunately in gang leaders, etc. They’ve actually done research on this.

          Let’s not forget that BLM ADVOCATED looting of stores on Michigan Ave in Chicago and told their members looting was okay bc stores have insurance!

          Your comment about them not feeling that their neighborhoods are their own, well that’s just nonsensical.. your community is where you live and spend your time.

          Personal responsibility IS the key to success. Look no further than Dr Ben Carson, Justice Clarence Thomas or Senator Tim Scott. All are from very poor backgrounds who were able to overcome.

          If there is no personal accountability, then you have chaos.

  3. All American Guy says:

    Oops, to my first paragraph that should be when police inadvertently kill a suspect of any other race?

  4. Hi Lee,
    Thank you for speaking up and writing this article. I know it’s a difficult subject to write about, but I appreciate how you put the view that God is who we need to find in times like these, and we need to treat everyone with equality.

    I recently heard a friend tell me, “In order to think, you have to risk being offensive.” So sometimes when we bring up uncomfortable truths, people do get a little upset. I’m not saying no one has a right to disagree with some of these movements going around, especially if they’re causing violence, but sometimes it’s hard for people to face that a society isn’t really equal for everyone.

    Just a thought on the “our people” and “your people” kind of thing, I agree that when it gets out of hand, deep problems can happen. But also it’s important to respect and appreciate your heritage, where you come from, your roots, as they say. Especially for African-Americans, we sometimes have this feeling we don’t really belong anywhere, so it helps us when we say “my people” and speak of Africa and things like that. But you are right, no one should try to put one group of people over another.

    I would like to share with you what Jimi Hendrix thought back in the 1960’s, when violence was rampant. As an African-American himself, he knew what was going on, he could relate to it, but he did not believe in violence. I don’t believe in violence, either, even though I’m also African-American.

    This is what Jimi had to say, back in the 1960’s. He was light-years ahead of his time, as he spoke of the African-Americans:

    I naturally feel a part of what they’re doing, in certain respects. Somebody has to make a move, and we’re the ones hurting most as far as peace of mind and living are concerned. But I’m not for the aggression or violence or whatever you want to call it. I’m not for guerrilla warfare. Not frustrated things like throwing little cocktail bottles here and there or breaking up a store window. That’s nothing. Especially in your own neighbourhood.

    I don’t feel hate for anybody, because that’s nothing but taking two steps back. You have to relax and wait to go by the psychological feeling. Other people have no legs or no eyesight or have fought in wars. You should feel sorry for them and think what part of their personality they have lost. It’s good when you start adding up universal thoughts. It’s good for that second. If you start thinking negative it switches to bitterness, aggression, hatred. All those are things that we have to wipe away from the face of the earth before we can live in harmony. And the other people have to realise this, too, or else they’re going to be fighting for the rest of their lives.

    I hope at least to give the ones struggling courage through my songs. I experience different things, go through the hang-ups myself, and what I find out I try to pass on to other people through music.

    Hope you enjoyed it! Jimi is a really enlightened soul. 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Hi Autumn,

      Wonderful thoughts from Jimi Hendrix. I do understand why people do all the rioting and looting, but I’m not a big fan of it. Especially the looting and property destruction. I don’t see what good that does. But when people are suppressed and oppressed, eventually it’s going to explode, and it’s going to be messy.

      On the other point, I see nothing wrong with groups thinking in terms of “my people,” and having affection and even pride for their own culture. The problems come when people start thinking they and their culture are better than other people and their cultures, and especially when they think it’s okay to treat people of other cultures and races badly because “we’re better than them.”

      Ultimately, I believe we are all one family. We are God’s family. All of us are brothers and sisters to one another, no matter what culture or race or nation we may come from.

  5. Also, thanks for pointing out the false myth that black people were cursed to be black. I really think this is what drove so many African-Americans away from Jesus Christ. That’s why I’m so passionate about getting the history of the Bible correct, whatever it is. We could have so many more people from the African diaspora who would follow and love Jesus if all the history was told correctly, and they realize they have a part to play in the story, too. All I really care about is the truth.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Autumn,

      There are indeed some rough things in the Bible. But many of the things people say are in the Bible just aren’t there. White people, for example, are not any significant part of the Bible story. The idea that the Bible somehow favors White people has no basis in the Bible at all.

      I do have in mind to write an article in the future about Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the Hebrew Table of Nations, Noah’s curse on Canaan, and so on. There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about all of this. That’s because too many people have used the Bible (but really, a false and wrong reading of the Bible) to support their own bigotry and prejudice. There’s no excuse for that. It is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

      And yes, I do think that if the truth of what the Bible actually says were more widely known, Christianity could longer be seen as some sort of White Supremacy religion. Then many people of other races and cultures would be drawn to the beauty of Jesus’ message.

      • Exactly, that’s how I feel, too. What it comes down to is the truth. If we can share the truth of what Jesus taught, so many more people, from all around the world, could understand the wisdom and love of Jesus Christ. That’s why it is a big problem when false myths continue to linger, because then it keeps people from seeing what Jesus really taught and shared to the world.

        Yes, too many people have used the Bible for prejudice, and you’re right, there is no excuse for it. And it happens both ways. For instance, some of the teachings of certain black Hebrew Israelite groups go against what Jesus taught about all men being brothers. Verses are taken out of context to support a false narrative. The Bible clearly states that we are now all one in Christ, so that’s the message we should spread.

  6. Just a last thought! 🙂

    A few days ago, my family met a nice guy who helped us out, and we all had a good time together. The guy was white or Caucasian, but that didn’t really matter to us because he was such a nice guy. We all joked around and talked with each other, and it was just a great time. We’ll probably be friends before long!

    I’ve been fortunate in that my parents have earnestly tried to move beyond having dislike towards any particular racial group. And my Dad especially is alright, a cool dude, as they say. He traveled to other countries and was welcomed there by the people in some countries of Europe. It was mind-blowing. People were just so nice and friendly to him! They appreciated his talent, and saw him as a person just like him.

    I think that at the end of the day, there’s this common thread among humans. People really do have similar hopes and fears. We’re all trying to make it on this planet. We don’t need to make things harder for each other. I think one African man once said that the teachings we need to have are the ones that are universal, like how we all have to breathe.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Autumn,

      Really, the differences between us are very minor compared to the similarities. When we think of the huge gap between humans and our nearest animal relatives, it becomes clear that we humans are all one species. Our capabilities across the board are equal to one another. Only some have not had the opportunities that others have had. Still, the really rather small differences that do exist between people of different races and cultures add a wonderful variety and richness to the human experience.

      When Annette and I first visited South Africa, we did not know how we would be received by the people of the Black, township-based Swedenborgian church here. We were painfully aware of the terrible history of White people oppressing Black people in South Africa. It would have been perfectly understandable if we were greeted with some reserve and even suspicion. But exactly the opposite happened. We were overwhelmed with the warmth of the welcome we received. Our thought was, “We don’t deserve this.” But “deserving” had nothing to do with it. Really, it is humbling to see how warm, loving, and accepting the people here are despite everything they have gone through at the hands of people who look like us.

      Yes, of course, there are many, many problems here as well. The people here aren’t perfect any more than the people of any other nation or race. But even in our short time here, we have learned lessons in humanity and forgiveness that we never could have learned among “our own people.” This, to me, is just one small example of how we can all learn and grow from other races and cultures besides our own, and how humanity becomes richer and stronger through those cross-cultural relationships.

      • Hi Lee,
        You are absolutely right, we can all learn from each other and open our hearts to the knowledge of other cultures. That is wonderful to hear that you were welcomed so kindly by the African people. A lot of Africans, not all, of course, but a lot of them hold the view of “Ubuntu”, especially in South Africa I think. The concept of Ubuntu is that every human is interconnected to one another, no matter what people try to do to make walls of separation. Ubuntu means we all treat each other with love and respect, because we are all human.

        You are right, people are more alike than different. There’s this common thread which unites all people. And the more we learn to accept each other as brothers and sisters, the more we can strengthen humanity, just as you said.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Autumn,

          Yes, Ubuntu is a way of life here. In fact, this is how Annette began Part 2 of her article for our church publication about our experiences moving to Soweto:

          “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” —Zulu proverb. “A person is a person because of other people.” In other words: Every person is who they are because they are part of the body of humanity.

          (The article is on page 88 of the magazine here: http://49lirp3us0hl3fg75c1nefee-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Messenger_20_08_August_FINAL.pdf)

          People here in South Africa recognize that they are embedded in a community, and depend on the other people in the community not just for their livelihood, but for their very life. I continue to believe in personal freedom and responsibility. But one thing the African cultures have to offer to Western cultures is the balancing reality that we live embedded in a community of people, and that without that community, we are nothing.

          Swedenborg says that spiritually, it is the same. We do each make our own individual decision about what type of person we wish to be, and whether we ultimately wish to live in heaven or in hell. At the same time, he says, if we were withdrawn from the spiritual community of angels and spirits in the spiritual world, we would not be able to think and feel anything at all, and would therefore have no life that could be called human life.

          In other words, we must both take personal responsibility for our own actions and recognize that we are part of a wider family of humanity, to which we owe our life, and which God put us here to love and to serve.

        • Hi Lee,

          Yes, we are definitely responsible for our life choices, but it is really good to remember that we are all connected, too. 🙂

        • That is a nice Zulu proverb as well! It captures the essence of what Ubuntu is all about.

  7. All American Guy says:

    Personally, I think this blog has gone to the dogs! 😂😂😂
    On the face of it, how can a blog called “Spiritual Insight” support an organization hell-bent on violence, looting and property destruction?
    How can such a site eschew personal responsibility in favor of victimhood and “its the other guy’s fault.”?
    Just curious.. 🤷🏼‍♂️

    • Lee says:

      Hi All American Guy,

      Just for the record, this blog has supported none of those things. Please read the above article more carefully. And please refrain from making unfounded accusations. It only derails the conversation into useless wrangling.

      Also, Black Lives Matter is not an organization. It is a decentralized movement. Please at least educate yourself on the subject you are talking about.

      And once more, I urge you to think more deeply about the history and experience of Blacks in America and around the world. Taking personal responsibility is indeed the key to breaking out of vicious cycles. But Blacks did not create the vicious cycle in which so many of them are now caught.

      It is shallow and unbalanced to pay attention only to the personal responsibility of Blacks, and not to the personal and national responsibility of Whites and others in positions of power to stop the systemic attitudes and practices that still to this day keep large numbers of Blacks stuck in poverty.

      I am a strong advocate of personal responsibility. If you read all of the comments here, you will see that I have already stated that I do not support violence and looting, nor do I think it is an effective solution to the systemic problems Blacks face every day in their communities.

      However, we humans are not islands into ourselves. You cannot understand human behavior if you don’t also take into account past history and present social realities that have created almost insurmountable barriers to poor Blacks improving their circumstances and their communities. These are barriers that most White people do not face, or if they do, they face a much milder version of them.

      Annette and I currently live in Soweto, South Africa. It is the largest of the densely populated areas called “townships” that the Apartheid government forced Blacks to live in. The townships were built on the worst land. And they were intentionally placed in areas geographically isolated from the White areas, where all the businesses that provided well-paid jobs were located.

      The results of those racist policies and actions are still with us today. It’s far too facile for Whites to say, “They should get a job and take responsibility for themselves,” when for a century or more the entire economy and society was intentionally and increasingly structured to keep Blacks away from and out of all well-paid jobs, and to train and educate them only for menial, low-paid jobs.

      Can a poor Black person in Soweto or in an American inner city ghetto just “take personal responsibility” and magically change in one moment these entrenched structural realities that Whites have systematically put in place for hundreds of years, and that to this day continue to block poor Blacks from improving their situation?

      That type of thinking thinking is a shallow, unrealistic fantasy.

      I am not advocating for any particular solutions to the problem here precisely because this is a spiritual blog, not a political blog.

      I am advocating for Whites and others in power to stop the shallow, uninformed thinking that only perpetuates the problem, and to work seriously on breaking down and changing the social, financial, and political structures that they and their ancestors put in place that continue to block and stymie Blacks and other minorities (in America) from improving their own situation and their own communities.

      All of the things you keep bringing up are mere effects. Once again, I urge you to think more deeply. Look into the realm of the causes of the dire social and financial situation that so many Blacks are still stuck in. Only when we understand the causes can we take actions that will solve the systemic structural problems that keep poor Blacks poor and desperate.

      Jesus taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Blacks are our neighbor. Blacks are our brothers and sisters. We are all beloved children of God.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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