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  • Jack H. Bender

Haves and Have Nots

My posts have centered on poverty. Today’s title could be a misdirect. When I talk about the Haves and Have Nots here, I won’t be talking about economic inequality. I’ll be talking about people that have dual consciousness (Have Nots) and those with unitive consciousness (Haves). Last week’s post touched on this theme. Those with dual consciousness use either/or thinking. Their judgments include some people and exclude others (racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, etc.). Those with unitive consciousness have a deep sense of being connected to all people and the planet.

Americans have rarely been this polarized. It becomes ever clearer that those in one camp have defined white people as “in” and diverse people as “out,” viewing them as existential threats. Trump’s border wall is an image that appeals to his followers. Immigrants are to be kept out. Muslims too. Black lives don’t matter.

We end up having a vast void between two groups of people on the issues of skin color, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation and religion—

I’m related to people like me vs I’m related to everyone and everything.

In a watershed book of 1979, The Aquarian Conspiracy, Marilyn Ferguson brought awareness to a shifting tide among Americans in particular. Behaviors in the post-modern era were being increasingly driven by intuition, feelings and mystical experiences beyond the heavily used logical thinking of modernity. The quirky “Aquarian” in the title meant optimism to Fergusson, as contrasted with the darkness of Pisces. “Conspiracy” meant its literal interpretation, “breathing together.” Unity. Solidarity. Weeks ago, I explained the meaning of solidarity, “together with bread,” being intimate/connected/related with strangers as if they were family and friends.

Evidence of this immense shift has been collecting since Woodstock of this era, but really since the beginning of time. We can consider the creation of the United Nations in 1945. We could go back to St. Francis of Assisi (Brother Sun, Sister Moon). Farther back—Jesus’ prayer for unity “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:11 (ESV). Further yet, God creates humans in God’s own image and likeness.

Other contemporary examples exist as well. We can’t forget the civil rights movement of the sixties that unified white and black people around equality issues. Then there was the Coke commercial, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” (1971). But the one recent moment that has had an impact on me was the reaction to the Muslim ban. The reaction was spontaneous, with over a thousand protesters of diverse backgrounds rushing to the SeaTac Airport. There was a deep sense of injustice that motivated people of different faiths to stand in solidarity with Muslims. When Notre Dame Cathedral burned, did you feel a connection to it or the people of France? We cannot forget teen Greta Thunberg urging world leaders to address the climate crisis and Pope Francis reminding us that our planet is our one and only home.

Now there is the killing of George Floyd and the solidarity with Black Lives Matter being expressed in all fifty states and around the world. Diverse gatherings are defying police brutality, tear gas, the heat and COVID-19 to demand equality for all people. Many are kneeling to remind us of Colin Kaepernick’s ban from the NFL at the end of the 2017 season because of “taking a knee” in protest to police brutality and racial inequality (not the American flag).

Political polls may imply that those Having unitive consciousness Have reached critical mass. Positions of Americans have rapidly coalesced around shared values unthinkable just a few years ago. The Overton Window is becoming The Overton Barn Door. Change is in the air. Could we be at the beginning of an era of greater equality and unity? What an energizing possibility!


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