Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On Flags

American flags are everywhere: on campus, in churches, political rallies for sure, town halls, military bases, lapels of politicians, school rooms, sterns of many boats, memorials, caskets, burnings.
Well not so many flag burnings these days.  I was watching a flag Sunday morning while waiting to pick up Suzanne.  I watched it for a long time and thought about this vision thing.  The flag is blown around and stands out from the pole because of the wind, which is driven by the weather systems, highs and lows, caused by ice up north and El NiƱo in the pacific and the sun.  That flag was flying and it was very inspiring.  If we could only pay more attention to those little beautiful things like flags flying, perhaps we would be a better people.
Now people always know what’s best for everyone else.  I don’t want to presume that I know what’s best for you or MIT or Cambridge or Somerville, or Massachusetts or the USA.  I don’t, but I have some clues.  If we only could honor other folks' sacred texts and way of life.  If we could love and honor rats and snakes and cockroaches as much as our dogs and cats we might respect the life of all living beings and the planet.  Even the bed bugs and ticks and mosquitoes.
We are so small compared to the planet, the length of life, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe.  But how great our accomplishments.  How precious are our families, friends, partners – time.  How precious our country represented by that flag.  That flag isn’t red voters or blue voters.
I wish politicians would just say they don’t know how to deal with ISIS or global warming or North Korea or poverty or the national debt, or lead in the Flint water supply, or black males in prison, or folks fleeing to our country across borders who want a piece of the pie we are so fortunate to have.  My vision of a politician is one who rents his home or lives in one valued about the same or less than ours.
If you have white feet or black feet or yellow feet or red feet or brown feet or even fungus feet, they don’t identify who you are.  Your heart does.
I would like to tell you that my vision is that I can eat ice cream and chocolate and chips to my hearts content, but then we know my heart wouldn’t like that in the long run.
My vision is that we could be ruled by our hearts, a species that honors and respects all living beings, a species that is generous and kind, a species that helps those who are in need, a species that will be on Allah's good side and Yahweh’s arm of peace and God’s care giver and a species who can ask questions and wonder at the answers. 
And within that species that we can find our way to contribute to the whole of all.

The White-Tailed Hornet
              by Robert Frost

The white-tailed hornet lives in a balloon
That floats against the ceiling of the woodshed.
The exit he comes out at like a bullet
Is like the pupil of a pointed gun.
And having power to change his aim in flight,
He comes out more unerring than a bullet.
Verse could be written on the certainty
With which he penetrates my best defense
Of whirling hands and arms about the head
To stab me in the sneeze-nerve of a nostril.
Such is the instinct of it I allow.
Yet how about the insect certainty
That in the neighborhood of home and children
Is such an execrable judge of motives
As not to recognize in me the exception
I like to think I am in everything—
One who would never hang above a bookcase
His Japanese crepe-paper globe for trophy?
He stung me first and stung me afterward.
He rolled me off the field head over heels
And would not listen to my explanations.

That's when I went as visitor to his house.

As visitor at my house he is better.

The Reverend John Wuestneck
Protestant Chaplain at MIT