Scared of Losing... or: Privileged & Don't Know It!

Over the weekend I attended a town hall meeting with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.
In the audience, the first attendee to raise his hand was an older middle-aged man:

"I want you to know I'm praying for you, Senator. I congratulate you on winning the senatorial race, and I am praying for you. I didn't vote for you, but I am a Judeo-Christian, and I am praying for you. This country was founded by Christian men who understood how important it was for us to be a Christian nation. And I am scared when I read the newspaper, because this country isn't a Christian nation anymore. President Obama said we are not a Christian nation. He are a Muslim nation. And so I pray for you, that you will help us lead this country back to God. Back to Judeo-Christian principles. Because no nation, no empire in the history of the world has ever survived once God has been rejected by its people."

He was angry. He sounded angry.  And he sounded scared. Angry that the world he knew - the only world he's ever understood - is changed. And will keep changing. And that's scary. The unknown is always scary.

I have a hard time with that sort of public outrage. I don't think Christians have much right to be outraged these days. I think those in power should defer such a luxury.  "Should."  I'm not so naive.  

It's occurring to me more and more lately that many of those "in power" so-to-speak (those individuals who are part of dominant, privileged groups in the world, whether or not their individual circumstances align) don't often realize they are in power. And it's understandable - as I've said before, exceptions to the rule don't consider the rule to be valid.

So a middle class white man is scared of the power he perceives around him, because he views it as a dominating force of ominous and malevolent change. He is the victim.

And if perception is reality, maybe he is a victim because he lives like one. But the rest of the country? Minorities in America? They're baffled that folks who have always held the cards are so terrified when a hand from the deck gets into the hands of the "other."
I want to be more gracious to folks who are so scared - and so angry - at the changes we're seeing in the world.  I want to find the right words to reassure them that everything is going to be okay - that giving up power and comfort and identifying with Jesus himself as "the least of these" are not anything to be afraid of.

Maybe Jesus could help:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
 - John 14:27

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