Jerusalem, Ferguson, and the Impotence of Politics

Things are not going well in the Mid-East. President Jimmy Carter took a lot of heat for his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Referring to “the blood of Abraham, flowing in the veins of Arabs, Jews and Christians”, Carter wrote: “Too much of it has been spilled in grasping for the inheritance of the revered patriarch in the Middle East. The spilled blood in the Holy Land still cries out to God – an anguished cry for peace.”

Mr. Carter provides a timeline for the region that reads like “A Crazed Man’s (or Woman’s) Guide to Nowhere”.

Saladin, sultan of Egypt … The Ottoman Turks … The French … The British Forces … The Balfour Declaration … The League of Nations … The Peel Commission … The United Nations … The British Mandate … The PLO … The Straits of Tiran, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Golan Heights, Gaza, The Sinai, UN Security Council Resolution 242 …  The list goes on and on with one assassination after another, one “mandate” after another, one Intifada after another, one war after another.

The meetings have accomplished little. The mandates have amounted to nothing. The cease-fires have been short-lived. The blaming is ongoing. You know the definition of insanity.

But rather than focus our attention on the rampant dysfunction in the Mid-East, let’s look a bit closer to home. How are things down in Ferguson?

Florissant Avenue – that is Ferguson’s equivalent of the Temple Mount – “Ground Zero” for the protests. Asked how they were doing down there, business man Dan McMullen responded: “How do you think we are doing? I just want to get this over with and move on.” He said some protesters came in wanting to leave flyers with information in his office. “I told them to get the hell out. You broke my windows and now you want me to put out your literature?” The city is on pins and needles as it awaits the decision of the Grand Jury, expected any day now.

Whatever the Grand Jury decides, will that be the end of it?

When it comes to initiating lasting change, racial and religiously motivated hatreds render politics impotent. Harbingers of peace never come wrapped in political garb; they come afire with the Spirit. They come as either an irritating prophet or a soothing servant. While they challenge the system, they also issue strong warnings to individuals. For the prophetic word to have any systemic power it must take root in the hearts and minds of individuals.

While spending in the mid-term elections of 2014 was only slightly higher than in the mid-terms of 2010, the number of donors shrank. More money is coming from fewer people. The Citizens United decision means that “the people” have a smaller voice in the political process. And now more than ever, the people are desperately needed.

Jerusalem will continue to be blood-filled and America’s streets will continue to be racially charged until the people – one person at a time – insist that we all have the right to safety for children and opportunity for young and security for our families. Let the “protest” begin in your neighborhood. You probably don’t need a sign or placard. You probably don’t need to wax eloquent regarding your opinions on weighty matters. What you might need to do is simply cross the street, or go next door and say: “Hello.”

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.