Category Archives: Global Community

Offended

In the past couple weeks I have changed some rhythms.  I started reading books and magazines instead of playing games to waste time and stew on my own thoughts.  And I have avoided a lot of things on Facebooks because I get offended with in about 6-8 posts.  I get offended because someone is defending their beliefs against current political events…again.  Because there is another video of indigenous Americans being abused by the police like Americas.  Because someone posted about White people being bad to the other.

Then I want to defend myself.  I know how to play cards.  Or I wouldn’t even get into a military vehicle and use a water cannon against someone defending their land.  Or I haven’t been silent in the face of the way our President-Elect campaigned.  Or I don’t believe I will be fine while the other is oppressed.  And honestly I don’t know how to defend myself when confronted like this.  I do want to tell people I didn’t vote Trump so they will continue to be my friend…mostly just online.

Right now, I have very few people I hang out with.  I have three guys I talk to about everyday life and two are not local.  And all are white.  I have a couple friends of color but we don’t seem to get our schedules to sync up well.  So I share memes and videos with three like-minded, like experienced friends.

I don’t have any one in my inner circle that would vote for Trump.  And yet, I feel a gut punch when I see someone calling out White People for their silence or lack of understanding.  I want to scream how like-minded I am with people of color and how I have rebuked a lot of the white stereotypes intentionally.  How there are words I won’t say even while reading aloud or recounting a movie or rapping along with the radio in the car…alone.

It hit me a couple weeks ago, this is potentially closer to how the other often feels.  How legal immigrants feel while walking past TVs tuned to the nightly news in a store.  How people of color feel when they are passed over for a job for a candidate that was “just a little better” but equally qualified in everything but skin color.  How African Americans feel when another story about a young black man being shot has the commentary of him not obeying the police.  How Asian Americans feel when they are asked where they are from even though they are 4th generation American.

How this feeling of helpless and lack of control in what others can and will do to you is not knew for a lot of people.  Just for a lot of White people.

And I don’t know what to do with that thought.

*I use the term White people to describe the generalized majority of European Americans intentionally.  Just like a lot of people use the term Asian or African or Latin without knowing where some is actually from.

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Global Community, The Jesus Way, Transparency

Don’t Know

A little over a month ago, a fellow church member sent out a note asking for help with an ESL and Welcome Center she started at her daughter’s school. It was the first time in a long time that I jumped at something. One because they offered childcare. Two because it was among a diverse group of people that wanted to learn English and I know English kinda good enough. And three because they had childcare.  The first time I showed up there was a Spanish speaking man with a great grasp on the language who told me a lot of his story.  I just sat a listened.  He has only come back once, because he is busy, and probably just came those times for fellowship in an otherwise boring day.  That is fine.

A month or so in I am the childcare often. With today at one point six kids under my charge, three of which didn’t speak English and none of which wanted to listen to me…including my own spawn. But I dealt, even though I was really close to not going today… because of Junior not listening anymore.

I went because I truly want my kid to know people of other colors and languages and personalities.  I want him to remember when he is 16 or 26 or 36 that not all people of color are moochers, terrorists, abusers, or untrustworthy.  I want him to remember a friend from when he was this age or 4 or 6 who he had a great time with and liked.  I also want the kids and parents there to see me,  a larger white male smiling and listening to them.  Because I know television dominates a lot of homes and time.  And I know a lot of the coverage on television is negative currently.

I don’t know if it will do any good.  I don’t know if Junior will grow up and move to a town with even less people of color (doubtful).   I don’t know if I will continue to be willing to smile and listen without speaking and groaning.  I don’t know if any of us will be as open as we are now again.

But I also don’t know what else to do to make this world okay.

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Filed under Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, Junior, The Jesus Way

Left

We – the beautiful Hannah and I- live in a nomadically transplanted city. Most people aren’t from here and most won’t stay… as we are learning.   People come for work, school or adventure often in their 20s and stay as long as they can or want.  The city houses a lot of people with grand dreams and plans who hang out until another job, partner or dream pulls them away.  We came as part of that group.

The beautiful Hannah has over a decade here.  I have lived here four times as long as anywhere else in my adulthood and am approaching that decade mark too.  We have lived in multiple parts of the city and are on the edge of it now it sometimes feels.  The mountain can be seen from our patio window when the leaves are gone and the sun is out.  The coast is an easy drive away and allows us to have lunch after a nice drive if we have a free day to play.  The food is amazing.  The beers were good and hopefully will be when we can go out again.  People are generally laid back and welcoming.  And even though it is touted as the Whitest City in (US) America and part of the Least Churched Region in North America, we have many people of other colors in our inner circle…and our “local” church.  People think and act similar enough to us for us to feel accepted.  We don’t get weird looks for talking to homeless or people with special needs.  We can own chickens, garden and buy only from the edges of the grocery store without judgment and know a lot of others that do the same.

We really like it here.  We have a house in a neighborhood that has a lot of real locals.  We have our spots, our stores, our communities, our old and new neighborhoods and the beautiful Hannah has a career at a school that won’t be transferred or moved.  We plan to be here a long time.

But we are consistently saying good bye to friends with whom we have connected it feels.  They move because of work promotions.  Because they want to move closer to family before having kids.  Because it was a short term thing that lasted many years and is now over.  Because parents need them back home. Or because housing is silly expensive and they didn’t buy a place yet and can’t imagine living paycheck to paycheck just to stay here.  Whatever the reason, Junior has a lost a lot of friends as have we and we realized we need to start making more connections again.  And in chatting with people we have heard that many are planning to head back “home” at some point.  When the kids need to go to school, or when it’s time to have kids, or when they need a real job.

The beautiful Hannah and I initially bonded over not wanting to live near where we were raised again.  Shortly after we met we began to make Portland our city together. We shared with each other what we loved.  We started combining traditions, routines, drinking spots, eating spots, and friends.  We made our home and are strengthened ourselves in the communities that would take us.   Those communities changed and shifted with marriage, work changes, and Junior and his demands.  And they change substantially when close friends move to green pastures they find or dream.

Leaving is not our plan or story it seems.  So I guess we are a little different here but that’s ok.

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Filed under Adulthood, Dreams, Freewrite, Global Community, Junior, Marriage, Overthinking, Transparency, unfinished thoughts

Ferguson

Seven years ago when I moved to Portland I became an advocate for many things. I was unemployed, living off savings, just off overseas mission work…and fairly passionate compared to today. But I kept getting one response.

As I spoke to people about sex trafficking, labor trafficking, slave-like work conditions in America and where American products and food were made…

As I spoke with church members of my then new church about segregation in the church and about global riches and how we are privileged as Americans…

As I spoke about homeless issues and its overwhelmingness in Portland…

As I spoke about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and how we don’t feel at war…

As I spoke about my causes and passions…

I kept hearing from people they didn’t have the time to care. I mean that is a little blunter but my summary.

They wanted to but needed to get food on the table. Or only had one pair of work jeans and need to look professional to keep their job. They liked church but didn’t think they had time to make it multi-cultural or go to meeting about how to change it.

They didn’t have time.

I questioned how they didn’t have time to engage intellectually with world issues like Ferguson.

 

Dr. Cornel West being arrested during a protest in Ferguson.

Dr. Cornel West being arrested during a protest in Ferguson.

Fast forward to today…well Sunday. This was the call to worship…

http://www.christenacleveland.com/2014/11/adventdarkness/

Go ahead and read it. I’ll be here.

Now that I am married to the beautiful Hannah, and she gave birth our first born junior, and we bought a house. Now that all happened I spend more time wondering how to get food on the table than where all of it came from. I only have one pair of work jeans. And our budget—our globally rich dual income American household—is stretched every month. We have a kid that takes a lot of time to care for. We have a house that takes a lot of time and planning to take care of.

And…

Sadly…

I don’t have time for Ferguson. I don’t have time to tell people that racism is still happening and that power is still manipulated. I don’t have time to research what actually happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. I don’t have the time to engage about the military equipment used against protesters being too much. Or if the protest groups are causing the police to show up in tanks because of what they are bringing.

I don’t have time to contemplate gender or income inequality. Although I believe they are issues.

I have no more emotional space. I have no more intellectual space. I have no more physical time.

I can’t follow blogs or stories because some have become too stuck in their position and I have heard it all before or… I disagree with them.

I barely have time to write this (most of it during the sermon after that call to worship).

I will be back one day. I will be back to advocating and debating and learning one day.

But until then I will fall asleep on the bus instead of reading. I will play with my son instead of writing another blog with the same thoughts as 30% of what you all read. And I will wash some more dishes to prevent ants and critters in our little home, instead of telling people to know where all their food and stuff is made. Although I care about it. I don’t have time.

But I ask, that those who do have time PLEASE advocate. Please write. Please read. And please for all that is right and holy, know and do something about what is happening in this state, country and world because I want it to be there when I am back!

 

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, Junior, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Transparency

I am Overrated

BookCover-2DI read a book recently that has convicted, encouraged and reminded me.

Convicted because he openly talks about the struggles he has had and how he overcame them. I have struggles…that I dwell on a lot and wonder if I should just overcome them.

Encouraged because his stories show hope and ways of resolving problems.

Reminded because he quotes and brings up a lot of points about justice I forgot, or have stopped applying.

Eugene Cho, in his first book Overrated, confesses his struggles with the current justice movement. He shares personal stories of seeing the need for justice around him, and recounts how he has been attacked for being pro-justice. Unlike a lot of other books, he gives small goals. Instead of saying you are going to change the world, he reminds us to change ourselves and go from there. Instead of trying to put shoes on everyone in the world, or give them all a well, he reminds us that solutions need to be local and applicable. Instead of trying to get others to donate $100 million to “end something”, he talks about One Day’s Wages (an organization he started) that receives 0.4% of a person’s annual income to give small grants to a lot of agencies to assist their local communities. Everyone gives a little for a lot of work to be done. Seems simple but at the same time it is a new thought.

A lot of the content in Overrated is not new but it is presented in a way that made me have new eyes for it. Many of the quotes were from books I have read in the last few years of learning about justice and the church, but it was great to be reminded of them. It was also good to hear some more of Eugene’s story. His stories of his upbringing as an immigrant in San Francisco and confessions of being rejected by Taco Bell as overqualified after they heard about his Princeton degree gave credence to his call for others to sacrifice and change their behaviors.

Perhaps these stories were edited for length but my only critique of this book would be that it was too short. A lot of points seemed clipped before completion and stories seemed rushed like some light jazz and dimming lights were signaling time was up. I would like the Overrated Director’s cut at some point because this copy was a fast read that ended too soon.

Most surprisingly, in this book about justice full of calls to be and do instead of acting, advocating and “raising awareness” about a justice issue, I was convicted most by the following quote.

“We need to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes the words ‘too busy’ are substitutes for ‘too lazy’. At least that’s true for me. What about you?” –Eugene Cho #OverratedBook

As I read this my bus pulled up to the stop and I headed into work. I logged into my computer and noticed the windows that popped up on the internet browser.   A couple work sites, then a couple email windows, a local news site, some sites that pay me a dime a day to click on things and a couple social media sites. On the blue themed one, I noticed a list of apps on the side. It was a good sized list, and as I realized I felt too busy the last couple weeks I clicked on them and noted the levels I had won. Level 242 on Farm Heroes Saga, 140 on Papa Pear Saga, Candy Crush Saga-313, Diamond Diggers Saga-56, Pepper Panic Saga-79… there was still Bubble Witch Saga, Bubble Epic, all the Angry Birds, Jewel Epic.

As a public service announcement, I must remind my fbook friends that if you click the X next to the game notification, you can turn them all off. And as a defense this was over a long period of time…at least a year.

But still, I realized I have the online life of a 15 year old loser who spends more time blowing up candy and vegetables than learning, exercising or talking to friends.

Then it hit me why I feel busy. I spend more lunch hours and alone time home reading blogs that I already agree with or playing silly games that are specially engineered to be addictive than working on getting the needed things done.

It has been 8 months since my last update to the larger community that helps me run a houseless meal each week. I have read 3 of the 12 books I have started this summer. There is a massive list in my phone of things that need to be done on the house, most of which would take 5-10 minutes.

But as Eugene Cho in Overrated says, “I didn’t want to leave my comfort for the sake of my commitments.” My comfort as of late has been turning off my brain and vegetating on line. I like to do timewasters when I should instead be managing my time.

Thanks to this book- After realizing this a couple weeks ago, I have no longer played any games, or wasted even a minute of my time. I only read books to learn in my free time. I only do chores when I get home from another stressful day of work. And I have personally called each of the 456 people that I haven’t emailed an update to apologize and let them know they are important to the ministry.

Actually, I haven’t done those things. But I have downloaded a couple music only podcasts so that I can read on the one hour bus rides to and from work. I have studied a list of quotes I took from Overrated so that I can remember that justice is important and is bigger than just me. I have been intentionally about praying for my family, finances and future while I walk during lunch. And I have started smiling back at the panhandlers and those asking for money from me on my short walks downtown. Which when you are the head of a local homeless agency is something that should come natural. I haven’t changed the world so far this year, but I have made a couple steps forward in improving myself and hopefully those around me.

I will end this post with one more quote that I think should be remembered by all attempting to do good.

“God has a long and proven history of using foolish and broken people for his glory.” –Eugene Cho #OverratedBook

AuthorPhoto-1

AuthorPhoto-1

AuthorPhoto-1

 

 

Editor’s Note: I was privileged to receive an advanced copy in exchange for a review and some publicity.  You can pre-order the book until September 1st by going to your local bookstore or going to www.areyouroverated.com 

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Filed under Global Community, One Day's Wages, Reviews, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People, Transparency