Thursday, March 20, 2008

Filtering Barack Obama's Speech on Race

Filters are fantastic things.

Nothing can ruin a nice cup of coffee or tea faster that a mouth full of grounds or leaves.


I don't even want to think about what would be floating around in our drinking water without filters in place.

Blech. Blech....blech.

I've experienced how well a car runs without an oil filter in place.

It doesn't.

Proper UVA and UVB filters in sunglasses keep our eyes protected.

Eye cancer is a horrible disease.

Filters block all sorts of bad things and for the most part, when functioning properly they work to our benefit.


What about when we use our own personal filtration system to keep out the things we don't want to face or accept?

Listening to Barack Obama's speech in response to specific messages of racially charged anger delivered from his church's pulpit by his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, I wondered what kind of personal filtration system Barack had in place all those years Jeremiah Wright was his pastor.

Barack stated very clearly that Jeremiah Wright was part of his family. He could not disown Jeremiah Wright anymore than he could disown his grandmother. Barack admits to hearing his grandmother make racially charged comments that caused him to cringe and yet claims that for more than 20 years he never heard Jeremiah Wright (a man Barack says has been his spiritual advisor, a man who was instrumental in developing Barack's Christian faith, a man who very clearly holds strong feelings of racially charged anger toward elements of the American government and has publicly proclaimed these feelings) say one racially charged comment.

For those that really are committed to their church membership, their pastor's teachings, the body of fellow believers to which they belong, we know that church folk talk! Especially if it is something we agree with, don't agree with, or find controversial. Church folk talk.

So, I really am curious as to what kind of personal filtration system Barack Obama had in place to be able to block out ALL the talk that had to have been happening in his church, among the congregation, at the barber shop, in the beauty shop, over coffee, etc.

I couldn't agree more with the words Barack spoke about how race is something all of America needs to address. My own family is similar to Barack's. My family picture looks like a United Nations ad. We are a family with bloodlines that connect the United States, Europe, Puerto Rico, Central America, Mexico, and Africa. I understand fully the importance of the words Barack spoke about race. And I agree. And I was glad to hear the words spoken.

What confuses me is this: Barack Obama clearly loves Jeremiah Wright and they clearly had/have a close relationship. Barack Obama worked a number of years as a community organizer and a civil rights attorney. He then went on to become a member of the Illinois senate, which led to a seat as one of Illinois' United States Senators. In ALL THAT TIME, Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright never had one honest conversation as to how Jeremiah Wright felt about the United States government? In ALL THAT TIME, Jeremiah Wright had direct passage to the ear of a civil rights attorney, an Illinois lawmaker, and a United States Senator and not once, not one time, did this man who has very strong racially charged feelings about the US government take the opportunity to talk to his closest connection to change there could possibly be?

That's some filtration system.

The words spoken by Barack during his speech on race were impassioned, eloquent, and I believe deeply felt. I truly believe he desires that of which he speaks.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Barack Obama is one of the most gifted public speakers of our time.

I just struggle to understand his own personal filtration system. If his filtration system is one that can turn itself on and off when it comes to authority figures he loves, cherishes, respects, and perhaps doesn't want to see the bad in, then I am challenged in my spirit to pause and assess his personal claims of excellence in judgment.

None of us are free from lapses in judgment -- none of us. However, not all of us are running for the most powerful job in the world based upon claims of excellence in judgment. Only one person is.

I understand how incredibly difficult it can be to stand up to those we respect, those we love, those who hold a powerful title in our own personal lives or in our communities or in our church. I truly understand.

The most difficult time in the world to stand up to those people is when we ourselves don't have a title, when we ourselves are the student, when we ourselves are in the lower positions. But stand up we must.

Denouncing the words of Jeremiah Wright was the correct thing for Barack Obama to do.

Telling America how he will work to change all of our filtration systems and yet not acknowledging the need to change his own leaves me wondering if he's the right mechanic for the job.

Filters are fantastic things. Not fantasy things.

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