Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Week with Green Dot

This week I was in in Martin doing Green Dot training. Honestly, I wasn't really looking forward to it. I'm away from my wife and kids and it's a week out of my summer. I know that Green Dot's mission to prevent personal violence is a good one, but what could I really do?

It's crazy how I played directly into their hands.

Before coming, it seemed like a program. I don't really like programsPrograms are zombies: thoughtless, moving only under momentum, slowly, and certainly dangerous in their unfeeling mass. Unfortunately, people act in groups, and if we can emphasize the personal relationships we all have, we can help.

Green Dot focuses on proactive things, not reactive--healing the wounded is good, but preventing wounds is better. Along those lines, Green Dot hinges on two things. First, it doesn't ask us to identify as a potential victim in need of defense or a potential aggressor in need of restraint, but a bystander who needs to act. It's easier to identify as a bystander than either of the other groups, so it's easier to prepare to act before an emergent situation. Next, Green Dot emphasized the dilemma of a bystander's action/inaction, excluding any middle neutral path. We don't all do the best, but, as Yoda says, we do or do not, although in this case trying is rounded up, not down.

It's a program, yeah. It has a brand--it even has a logo, the eponymous Green Dot. But it focuses on on action more than "activism"; us ourselves rather than "community." I was afraid of a program that focused on keeping women from getting hurt and keeping men from doing horrible things. I discovered a conversation about how bad things happen to all sorts of people, but primarily how all sorts of people can help each other stay safe--most directly, it's about how we protect other people.
We good people outnumber the bad people, and the only way to stop bad actions is to replace them with good actions--interpersonal violence hurts too many people, so we the majority needs to act in each other's lives, to help each other out, even to look out for chances to help.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Gods of Our Amorites

Some hold that the Reformation held within it the germ of modern atheism, as the emphasis on personal choice for God also must allow for the personal choice against God. On a long view, however, that must have been the point from the beginning. God desires that nobody would fall, but desire implies a lack of domination, an acceptance of the possibility or even probability of rejection. In all, we know that the straight path is narrow and the wayward path is wide.

This is what Joshua told the people of Israel. We concentrate on the "choose this day who you will serve," but there's more there. Joshua emphasized choice in serving God, but in particular he was speaking to those who did not want to serve God, those who in his words found serving God "evil" in [their] eyes." Joshua emphasized his own choice of God, but confronted the rebellious, disgruntled Israelites with a dilemma: either serve their fathers' God, or serve the Amorites' God. There are only two paths, after all, and either we must choose to submit to the God who loves us, or submit to the gods of those who hate us and want us dead.

For our Amorites, whether philosophically atheist or simply uncaring, want not to glorify us but to glorify themselves. They don't want to save us eternally, but to prolong the suffering of this world under the guise of "preserving life." Our Amorites praise the man as opposed to the God who has brought us this far. Our Amorites praise the seemingly immortal god Mammon, who shall be destroyed with his gold in the fires that end the world, as our God and his faithful look on, sad for the great loss but safe eternally. Our Amorites worship science but not the Creator of nature, asking questions of the universe that provoke more questions, not seeking solace in the God who satisfies fully in the waters that satiate all thirst.

Our God made this world for us, and brought us into it, but we are here because of him and the service he asks of us. While in this world, it tries to distract, distort, taint, and corrupt, and destroy us. The gods of the Amorites demand death and blood unending, while our God desires clean hearts and loving service. The King of all that is came to us as a pauper, serving us to his own death, and begs us to let him in to our hearts, knowing that he has made the rock he cannot lift: he has given us the keys to our own hearts.

A beast, a monster, a demon might compel us to be his slaves. Our God asks us quietly, in hopeful patience, and the only time limit is our own.