First Posted 28-Oct-2014
I may be repeating myself. It is something I noticed as an Americorp Volunteer at Boaz & Ruth. People who had been horribly abused as children sought out adult relationships with abusers. It was as if because of some unresolved business with God the evil of their parents drove them to carry it into their adult life as they sought partners. Children of drug addicts somehow found their greatest love in other addicts and drug dealers. I’ve learned of late that some of the crap I went through as a kid is an inheritance from my grandparents and perhaps further. Lovely.
I live in the capital of the South. Richmond, VA is one corner of the slave triangle. The other corners are London and the West African Coast. The wound on the soul of slavery is still felt deeply here. It still festers in the hearts of our ancestors, slave and slave owner. The abuse perpetuated was horrid. The inherited bitterness deep and hard to heal. “Why can’t you just get over it?” If you have been abused you know. It isn’t something you just get over. So much of your life is colored by the scars of the abuse. The physical wounds heal. Psychological wounds can be chronic illness that is difficult, perhaps impossible to heal. You don’t just “get over it”.
We elected a black President. Good on us. He is not, as is popular to say in the conservative press, HRH Obama. But the way some of us have responded to him, the expectations we have placed on him, feel to me like slaves wanting to return to the plantation and shackle themselves to involuntary bondage and whippings. It feels like some of us are seeking from him the very sorts of behavior we despise because it hurt us so. I hope you are mad at those words. You should be. Obama needs to succeed as a president, as a man without regard to race. That his popularity is fading among some because he didn’t buy them a cell phone and a Cadillac should expose a flaw in the character of our culture. It should not be a metric of Obama’s performance as president. It should also reveal a need to continue to heal the wounds in our culture which drive us back to the destructive relationships we left.
That itch to seek justice from the sumbitch that abused us, just drives us back into the hell we so passionately say we never want to return to. The healing has to come from forgiveness and a healthy relationship to God. We need to leave our sumbitch alone. One more thing, though. I am saying we need to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. I’m not saying that we should forgo seeking appropriate justice. Choices need to have consequences. Folk that are behaving in a dissonant or damaging way need to be called to account. Most of the time this means involving the cops or other appropriate support. It’s not something we should do on our own.
This relates to Obama how? We have to stop electing politicians we elevate to demigods or kings. We have to stop putting them in power expecting them to stop abusing us, wrap us in material comfort, and attempt to fill the God-sized hole with pleasures or things of this world. We have to get over the idea that a president is good or bad based on whether he buys us a Cadillac and a cell phone. Obama can’t do a lot of what we wanted him to do. We have to do it person by person, at the local level. That’s how we break the cycle of bitterness we have inherited.