Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Not Drinking The Kool Aid"

“You’re smarter than that.” “Don’t drink the Kool Aid.”

Yes, these are the kind of things my angry acquaintances, a family member, and even a former boss of mine, (mostly through social media) say to me, and likewise, my friends’ acquaintances say to them, when they see us taking arrests, making some noise, and calling Illinois’ Governor Bruce Rauner to repentance, to change his ways, to open his ears to the cry of the poor and not to cut services for the poor, the disadvantaged, and the mentally ill; not to cut transportation, violence intervention, rehab, detox, education, before and after school programs, immigration and refugee services, cancer care, healthcare for our seniors and the disabled, and so on; not to kill and impoverish people through systematic acts of economic violence. 

These are the words some acquaintances say to we who gather together while a very rich man (currently elected) whose membership to a wine club costs the annual salaries of four of his constituents, is claiming we need to cut services to those already homeless and at risk of death—a very rich man who simultaneously is fully aware that two-thirds of the publicly traded corporations in Illinois pay absolutely no state income tax, as he shares a glass of wine with their CEO’s, millionaires and billionaires, looking from afar, on high, hedges and fences and cognitive labyrinths hiding the suffering somewhere out of sight, out of view, painting himself some kind of “hero” for “making difficult decisions,” “being responsible.” What nonsense. 

This is what they say when we say “Rauner, repent! Tax Corporations and the 1%.”

They say: “You’re smarter than that.” “Don’t drink the Kool Aid.” 

Friends, these people who say these things are deeply misguided and deeply deficient in their capacity for compassion, empathy, and other traits the deeply spiritual among us aspire toward. 

What’s worse, self-proclaimed Christians (such as Rauner himself) actually think that they are doing something Christian by advocating cuts that will devastate communities, set a whole new generation in line for addiction and prison and poverty, and lead to real death—for our seniors, our youth, our sisters and brothers and neighbors. 

Christians?—these folks who claim to be, are either lying, (they are actually of some new religion that loves seeing poor people die) or they are deeply confused (misled, co-opted, drinking their own Kool Aid?). See, Christianity, if it is following Jesus as the Christ, is only Christianity if it stands on the side of the poor—like Jesus did (point of clarification Jesus called "the Christ" is the guy the faith was named after). If a Christian speaks against the poor, or actively hates them, that Christian is being anti-Christ, and, well, un-Christian. It’s not very complex. Christ’s teachings are pretty simple and straight-forward around this. “Whatever you did unto the least of these… you did unto me.” “Blessed are the poor,” for they one day will be poor no more, because there is no poverty in the Kingdom—the Kingdom of God that is at hand. That you are invited into now by way of repentance. “Repent! The Kingdom is near.” These are the words with which Jesus, by way of John the Baptist begins his ministry. “Repent,” be transformed. God’s reign means the last become first and the lowly become exalted, and everyone gets to eat, and live, and have dignity. So change what you’re doing. Repent. For here comes the Kingdom, and it’s best if you’re in accord. 

Rauner, repent! The kingdom of God is near, and the call of anyone, and anyone in power, is to respond accordingly—to live into the kingdom, to use your power to feed the hungry, care for the poor, and in so doing serve Christ, your Lord, your Governor, your magistrate. Repent. It’s not too late. You can feed the hungry and heal the sick if only you repent and use your power to take the wealth and resources that are hoarded away in silos, in loop-holes, in un-taxed corporate pocket-books and piggy banks, in wine clubs where the rich get drunk on the salaries of the working class. 

Repent! And, dude, hurry up. 

People are suffering. People are dying. And it’s because of your agenda.

Don’t drink the Kool Aid? You’re smarter than that

Well, you who claim to be “smart” and (I guess?) sugar free (?), learn this: for Christians (though this ethic is in no way limited to the Christian faith), the vantage point to which we are called and from which we are called to see the world is the cross. We see from the cross. It is to the cross Christ calls all of his disciples as they learn to follow. That’s actually where they follow him to. And the framework through which we see as we stand in the place of suffering and passion and isolation, is Love—com-passion, solidarity, liberation. Love is our lens as we look from the cross. Love is our source and our destination, our beginning and our end. Love overcomes death. It resurrects. “God is love. And all who abide in love abide in God (1 John 4:16).” “Those who don’t love, don’t know God (1 John 4:8).”

Compassion, solidarity, liberation, Love… 

That’s not Kool Aid, folks. 

That’s communion. 




The body and blood of Christ, crucified, resurrected. 

Standing together, in love, at the crosses of our time, the places of the skull, whoever and wherever they are and however they manifest—standing together: this is the body broken, given, resurrecting. 

This is a foretaste of the Feast to Come. 

Come. Taste. And see. 

The next actions are Monday, June1 at 4:30PM, and Monday, June 15, TBA. Keep posted through IIRON, SOUL, ONE Northside, Illinois Peoples Action, and Fair Economy Illinois. Join us, whatever faith persuasion, to call our governor to repent, to not cut the poor, and to tax corporations and the 1%.   

1 comment:

  1. I tried posting this earlier, but it didn't seem to work. I apologize for any repeats. Your Kool Aid trope reminded me of when I was a kid, and it was just me, my two sisters, my bother and my mother. My mother served us Kool Aid, because at 10 cents a packet, it was cheaper than juice. Sometime she bought the other, cheaper brand despite our hatred for it because some days those pennies counted more than we could imagine. We whined because the tartness singed our tongues with a funky aftertaste, and well, it wasn't Kool Aid. But we didn't cry because then we'd have nothing and we knew what nothing tasted like. Before she left for work, my mother would call: Don't drink all the Kool Aid. I'm not here to feed the neighborhood. It wasn't summer without that call. Perhaps she wanted us to limit our sugar intake and to drink more water. Perhaps she was trying to stretch those pennies. Perhaps she savored the sweetness after long days cleaning other people's houses. But we always drank all the Kool Aid, every last drop from the Tupperware container. She scolded, but she made more day after day after day. She knew we drank out fill. But so did the gaunt, dirty kids who showed up at our door. The ones who slept in the grandmothers' basements. The kids with fleas. Whether we played with them or not, they would knock at the door: Mrs. Hobbs, can we have something to drink? Do you have anything to eat? She looked at the rapscallions my brother brought home and all the ones he didn't. She would shake her head, and even on days when we had nothing left in the house but Bisquick and water, she would still pull out the box from the top shelf and mix up pancakes and Kool Aid for dinner for the four of us and anyone else who straggled in. She fed the neighborhood. So I say to you: Drink the Kool Aid. Make some more. Pass it around. Share your hunger and your bounty because someone's hunger and bounty will always burn more than yours. But your simple gifts may be the ones that make all the difference.