COEXIST

Such An Obvious Concept

Where are the religious and spiritual communities in this conversation? There is no coexist without understanding, no coexist without respect, no coexist without conversation.

Racism, in any form, in all forms is never sanctioned by any religious or spiritual belief. Racism by its very nature of perceived superiority based on birth over another human being or group based on birth fuels arrogance which leads to oppression, then resentment, exploitation, hatred and hatred leads to violence. Connecting these dots is simple, true and obvious. No religion or spiritual practice supports the end result. Yet silence among the religious and spiritual communities reigns–almost.

The United Church of Christ in its Mid-Atlantic Region has voted a formal boycott of the Washington, D.C. NFL team. In Cleveland, where the UCC National Headquarters are located, in the past they have supported outreach to the Native American community. Both steps are positive. More steps must be taken. More leaders can and should step forward. I call on the Roman Catholic diocese of Cleveland and Bishop Lennon to open a conversation with the team owners, myself and other interested parties to find a positive resolution to this longstanding MLB travesty at his doorstep. I know the Dolan family, the MLB team owners, are Roman Catholic, graduates of Notre Dame Law school across generations and active in Catholic Charities. I too am Roman Catholic. It is the right thing to do. For the record I have sent this same request to Bishop Lennon, repeatedly in the past as I did with his predecessor Bishop Pilla  and again this week. To date I have had no response at all.

As I now live in the Boston area I am aware of a powerful coalition of academic and spiritual leaders coming together in an effort to undo the casino endorsement vote through a ballot initiative. The courts have approved the new vote.  It is good to see scholars and spiritual leaders uniting on an issue but perhaps it is time for their expansion of the process,? Uniting FOR human dignity, mutual respect, integrity and decency seems to be the message all teach. This is not a ballot issue, it can be a hearts and minds issue. History, recent history, has shown time and again that racism leads to violence, both local and beyond.

The current Roman Catholic Pope, Pope Francis has prayed with Israeli leader Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbastogether at the Vatican last month and this week prayed with tens of thousands in St. Peter’s Square to end warfare in the Middle East. Hatred, in all its forms, kills. The exploitation of any one group, Native, Indigenous, minority or simply seen as the other mirrors the pattern of exploitation and oppression of all.

“I exhort to all the interested parties and to all of those who have political responsibility at the local and international level to not give up the prayer, nor any effort to cease any hostility and reach the desired peace for the good of all,” the Pope said, according to a CNN translation. He spoke in Italian, from the window of his apartment above St. Peter’s Square.

These same words for peace and universal good-respect and decency-carry for all team identities. Where there are racist team identities in all sports which peace is placed at risk with hostility expanded as the identity of an indigenous people is used by others for profit and personal gain. In time I am certain this will come to be seen as the truth, seen by those currently hugging tradition and old attitudes tightly in their closed hearts. The growth of the global community will make the current team identities, endorsed by their owners and organizations from Cleveland, to Washington, D.C. and beyond and the sports’ fan behaviors worldwide proof positive of vile racism and continued ignorant intentional blindness. This is not a legacy anyone should strive to leave. It is time for a change.

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