Collective Supremacy in Good or Evil? ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Collective Supremacy in Good or Evil?
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.


 

Amidst the pain of political pipe bombs and Pittsburgh’s anti-Semitic domestic terrorism, how many of you felt that jolt of love pulsing through the internet last week? A few days ago we learned how butter supplier Land O’Lakes was a corporate sponsor of Iowa’s GOP congressman Steve King who has a reputation for supporting white supremacists—including tweeting support for Nazis.

When social media got wind of it, a boycott was threatened against Land O’Lake products­—not good for corporate profits on the cusp of holiday baking season. And guess what? Enough of a national outrage ensued from our citizens for Land O’Lakes to issue a press release saying they would no longer support Rep. King.

This is a positive sign. Americans are collectively calling for love of the Other vs. hate.

Contrast this with a conversation I had with some educated, young white men. One was telling us of a male speaker he had heard, who started his lecture by saying, “White supremacy built this country”.

I countered with what REALLY built this country was yes, supremacy, but it was white supremacy in VIOLENCE, THEFT, and GREED—all wrapped in fear of the Other and condoned by their God. Bluntly, our nation was built on a powerful, patriarchal, white collective choosing evil.

Most of the Europeans colonists were barred in their home countries from owning land, and so they fought to claim land here, along with its resources, such as forests, hunting rights, water, fishing rights, coal and other extractive resources. It didn’t matter if Native Americans claimed the land first.  The trespassers had greater weapons of violence—using gunpowder invented by the Chinese. They took that gunpowder and used it to serve hate—becoming supreme in greed-fueled violence and theft, slaughtering whoever got in their way. The very freedoms and rights they sought they denied the Other. The oppression they were fleeing they imposed on the Other.

The South and much of the Eastern seaboard were built with both black and white slaves. Slavery’s nothing new. Down through the centuries, all races have built economic wealth by enslaving women and men. But Southern white colonists exhibited superiority in violence against slaves—often government-sanctioned.

I lived almost two decades in Asia and Africa. White folks don’t hold exclusive rights to those values, which certainly don’t translate into any sort of “superiority” in intelligence. Living by greed, violence, and theft just means living immorally with your reptilian brain and bigger weapons—not a higher consciousness—and anyone can do that.

 

Tip the Scale Toward Good

I asked People House co-founder Pat Pendleton  how to navigate this divisive political climate. She said that, “Good and Evil have always existed and always will. We must listen to our better angels to tip the scale toward Good. It’s a constant act of awareness to shine the light on Good and not allow Evil to thrive” (1).

And what is the Good?

The story is told of a Cherokee speaking to his grandson about the battle between the two wolves who live inside all of us. “One is Evil. It is anger, jealously, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth,” he tells his grandson. And the winner? “The one you feed.”

Without getting into the weeds over this, let’s just say that I like this Cherokee’s definition of “the Good.”

And WHY choose the Good? Ethical philosophers have written tomes on this this topic for more than 2,000 years. Circuitous reasons abound. “Because it’s good to choose the good.” “Because of karma.” “Because God says so.” But which God? Hindu? Jewish? Muslim? Catholic? Protestant? And which God gets to decide what the Good is? Many of us believe a dogmatic presentation of the Good is just a way to maintain the status quo and control and destroy the nonconformists (2).

After many years of ignoring my soul’s pleas and preferences, these days I honor it with my attention   to what brings it life. Therefore, I paused over a simple explanation given by Larry Behrendt (3) when I felt an emotional reaction to his words.

Based on the Socratic/Platonic doctrine, he ends his piece with, “But the goal of knowing the good is to improve the soul, which is the person.” Why is this important, psyche? I asked myself.

To “…improve the soul.” Improve means to raise to a better quality or condition. Choosing Good over Evil is like strengthening a muscle you didn’t know you had while lifting weights to work on a different muscle.

After a while you recognize you’re stronger in a certain way but don’t know how you got there. My soul likes it when I choose the Good, it needs this—it’s how I’m meant to live—whether my rational brain understands this or not.

Collectively Choosing the Good

Ms. Pendleton continued: ““Choosing Good is not a onetime battle to be won, it is ongoing and always will be. We have let ourselves become subdued by the superficial—the reality show and the huckster— and have given evil a foot in the door. We are in a dangerous place and as a nation need to be reminded of our [higher] values. We need to take strong action toward love and oneness and away from separation and hate. We’d better do it soon with solidarity.” 

She believes lack of human connection contributes to this separation and hate, adding that, “Strong communities …religious or non-religious, where people support each other are important.”

And I believe that collectively choosing Good improves the soul of our nation in ways we won’t understand. 

Again, it takes choices. Our white, patriarchal ancestors were weak in choosing Good, but supreme in choosing evil. They were supreme in letting their baser selves take over.

Every day we have opportunities to choose love/the Good over hate. As we have seen played out on a national level, the myth of white supremacy promotes hate, anger, and violence toward the other.

GOP representative Steve King personally experienced that power of the collective choosing Good. Which one will you feed today?

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Notes & Sources:

1.Interview via Facebook messenger, Oct. 30, 2108.

2. Many believe that God defines the moral rules and imposes the sense of duty. God is thus a surrogate parent, and by being good we gain divine reward and (we hope) avoid divine punishment.

3. https://philosophynow.org/issues/63/Why_Should_I_Be_Good

4. The biblical prophet Micah said, “He has told you, Mortal, what is good. What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, New International Version)

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About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation.

 


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