Maturing Our National Identity

As the new American story emerges, it is evident that its citizens’ identity is maturing. Personally, my American identity is not the same as when I chose to serve in the US Air Force forty years ago. I remembered the stories my father and uncles told me, and I still enlisted. As an African American male, I, like my father and uncles, have pride along with a love-hate relationship with our country.

As this country includes contributions and trauma from its minority cultures, my relationship with America is changing for the better. Some citizens resist this inclusion of minority community experiences in our school’s history programs.  However, I believe resistance is futile, and America’s cultural identity is maturing.

I used to be a member of the conservative Christian culture, and many of us have traded up for spiritual communities that are more inclusive, showing that change is possible. My mother’s brother was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, twenty years before I was station there in 1978, and our stories are different. My father’s brother James enlisted in a segregated US Army. My father enlisted a few years later, and integration was the law, and their stories were very different.

As our nation’s historical timelines include experiences from all cultures, the identity of our citizenship matures. I did not live in the 1950s, but after seeing the Hidden Figures story, my love for American culture went up a notch. We all want to embrace excellence, and we are motivated to act accordingly. The African American children of today need the historical context of their ancestral contributions to this nation. I have no doubt white children will respond with pride, just like I did to historical information, primarily about white people’s contribution to our country.

The more complete our understanding is, the more inclusive our culture will become. Many of our citizens remain segregated in pockets of partial information living in fear of things we do not understand. As my social consciousness expanded, I am still in awe that I once embraced such a  black and white, pollyannish view of the world and America. I saw a meme and agreed that I also learned more about Black history in 2020 than I did over the last sixty years.

I can honestly say I have more love and compassion for this country because I know what people experienced before me. When we include the trauma and contributions of all cultures on our American timeline of history, we get to see a rich context of this grand experiment. Each generation forges a new identity. While some may resist, America is maturing. In some years, our identity leaps in its development. As we look back over 2020, many of us can see how much we have grown up during the pandemic. Happy Birthday, America!

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The Beauty In Others

I was not always able to see the beauty in people that were not of my spiritual tribe. I did not physically assault them; I judged them to be broken, and I felt pity for them in my heart. I held to a set of beliefs that evaluated people’s behaviors. I believed that humankind had fallen and that everyone was separated from God, having no light or beauty on the inside.

Now I live differently, and I see beauty in all people. What changed is that I had an awakening from those old beliefs. I changed because love opened my understanding at a heart level and created a new way of relating to people. I now experience life on a deeper level, the fear has gone, and I enjoy being with the new people I meet. I see beauty where once all I saw was a world of others that needed fixing.

So how did this happen on the inside of me? I give credit to silence. I was a typical person with a wife and two kids, working to keep up with bills and the family schedule. At first, it was the silence of early mornings and late nights that started drawing me in. Then I started taking long walks in the woods, getting up early at the beach, escaping to places of quiet. Most important was separating myself from the groupthink of my religious community. Do not get me wrong. My religious community was a safety buffer in an indifferent world, racially divided and full of greed and jealously. And with my tendencies for sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, Sunday morning was a two-hour sanctuary grounding me, keeping my family safe from the world’s insanity.

The silence allowed me to recognize how loved I am by God/Universe. My old spiritual community organizes around religious hierarchy, and my interpretation was the higher ranked you were, the more God loved you.

In that silence, I finally discovered I had it all wrong. My new awareness of the love emanating from Divine source has made all the difference. And now I see the beauty radiating within every person and myself. The idea that our connection is dependent on our social status in life is an illusion. What dawned for me is that beauty resides in all 7.5 billion of my sisters and brothers. Every person has within them the same love and light. Seeing this is my greatest joy.

The beauty I experience today in the world is overwhelming. Even those who have differing political views, world views, moral views, or ethical views have this same divine beauty. Seeing other humans living, moving, and being is magical. The cultural diversity among humanity is genuinely remarkable. Human expression is beautiful and does not require fixing. I am glad I got here and can see the beauty with my eyes and heart.

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World Beauty

There are two common sayings used today. One is “selective hearing,” and at least one contestant in every beauty pageant always answers “world peace” during the question segment of the contest. What I and many others are discovering about life, from both a spiritual and scientific perspective, is that our conscience has a significant effect on the reality we experience.

Sayings like selective hearing and world peace are statements of what we do and desire. With that, I want to introduce a new saying. World Beauty. Ironically when we gather with our local spiritual communities and churches, we most often misuse our conscience by selectively limiting and acknowledging God’s virtue in operation. For many, the main reason we attend a Sunday morning spiritual gathering is that we see the beauty in the person standing on the stage. What we miss is the beauty inside everyone else. By beauty, I am talking about the virtue and God-like qualities that all humans possess.

We desire a beautiful world of peace, but we fail to see and acknowledge the beauty in every ordinary person. That is because we participate in selective seeing which finds and complements the divinity only in our cultural leaders. With 7.5 billion of us, we need to see and speak forth the good that resides in every person and not just our role models and group leaders. Being aware of the goodness in another person is one of the most empowering things we can do to bring about a beautiful world. In quantum physics, there is a theoretical experiment called Schrodinger’s cat and there is also the dual slit experiment with its many variations. In both cases, the conscious observer is the determining factor for the outcome of these experiments.

World beauty is a real possibility for human experience. What is required is for us to see it. We need judgment that finds beauty, love, and peace in the fabric of our reality. To experience world beauty, we must see it in more than just our leaders, role models, and celebrities. We need to see it in every one of our fellow human beings. We need a practice of selective seeing that will produce the desire of our hearts, which is world beauty.

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