Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama's Not Wright, But He Is Right

All this fear of what the other really thinks comes down only to...how s/he acts toward me and others. Not as an act but for real.

Sen. Barack Obama is not Jeremiah Wright; he doesn't espouse extreme views. It is apparent that Obama has learned to walk a middle path. He is a bridge. That he has been exposed to black liberation ideas should not frighten people. That he has chosen the good and left the bad is what is important. Wright said some wrong things but that doesn't necessarily make all the other stuff he preached in the same category. I am Not defending his more screwed-up views. I am trying to appreciate the distinction between how Wright led his congregation and how diffrently Obama leads from his example. He was correct to step away from Wright's incendiary shadow.

And rather than condemn him or his grandmother of whom he spoke, Obama understands and loves them while rejecting their narrower views. He is like a wise teacher. He has embraced a faith of love and forgiveness.

In his most recent speech Obama reminded us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. And more importantly he BEHAVES in a manner that bespeaks the maxim to Not do unto others as you would Not have them do unto you.

What I have learned of liberation theology seems more like that middle path. My freedom or yours does not depend on putting down someone else...but standing up to authority and questioning it, influencing it, speaking out against tyranny, dictatorship and lies.

True liberation theology is not hierarchichal; it does not say that I am better than You. It's about questioning the way things are usually done in our world. It's befriending the other. It's seeing the light of the creator in each.

Latin and South American priests used liberation theology to stand up for their countrymen; I learned from Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, the late leader of B'nai Jeshurun congregation in New York City and a student of Abraham Joshua Heschel, that liberation theology concepts helped him speak out for the people of Argentina when he was a young rabbi in Buenos Aires during that government's dirty war. Those ideas--another form of tikkun olam (healing the world) are what fortified him and others to act to make something better out of chaos.

There doesn't need to be oppression. Unity is a wholeness that can ensure the future for all generations. We each have our own path and together we can make a better world. It is a sacred path that we tread.

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