The problem with my family of origin is the inability to confront problems. We yell at each other, and someone slams the door and drives off. Then we retreat into silence. The same toxic pattern for my entire life.
The American Empire is in flames. Let it burn.
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”
— Philippians 3:19
In my relationships with my wife and child, we tried to learn how to develop healthy communication by admitting when we were wrong and asking for forgiveness. We enjoy spending time together because we make space to listen and have honest conversations about the things that we struggle with. We support each other by being emotionally present and vulnerable. We often make mistakes, but we own up to them. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We laugh together. Those who join our community experience the love of a family that is able to hold each other responsible for bad behaviour while helping each other be better human beings by modelling a more respectful, empathetic, and compassionate example.
Design is a way to use the scientific method to solve problems using the skills of curiosity, observing, listening, and empathy to ask better questions so we can identify the root problems and recognize the actual challenges that we need to overcome. Often, we have to take responsibility for creating the problems that we are trying to solve. These problems are the unintended consequences of design.
The greatest problem is the inability to recognize problems to such an extent that the problems continue to accumulate over time until they are so unmanageable that the problems are too overwhelming to deal with.
Hoarding to fill the empty places in our lives with things is a symptom of a problem with a misplacement of value in physical objects and with regarding the natural world as property that we can use for financial gain. In other words, it is the love of money.
Life has value, but people have come to believe that money is more valuable than living, breathing human beings.
Why is it more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven? Because the rich man values riches more than people. A rich man hoards wealth. That is why he is rich.
On this 4th of July, do you know what is trending on Twitter? A hashtag #AllCountriesMatter that is critiquing the root problem of this world, the hoarding of wealth by the United States of America, which I will refer to as the American Empire.
The American Empire is the feet of iron and clay in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. What is the iron? The military-industrial complex. What is the clay? “You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.” Jeremiah 18.
When we try to combine state violence with capitalist democracy, we abdicate our power to authoritarian salesmen (otherwise known as corporate CEOs) in exchange for economic and military security with the illusion of moral authority. In other words, the country who claims to have single-handedly overthrown the fascists of Europe became the fascists of North America in the form of state capitalism. The old Nazis were superseded by the Neo-Nazis. “Such fine people on both sides of the Atlantic!”
Don’t deny it! The United States of America is being led by a bunch of white supremacist, racist, Nazis. He is running amok, because the justice system was designed to enable white supremacist, patriarchal leaders to politically dominate the population. Naturally, the law is powerless to hold him accountable for his crimes against humanity.
Constantine combined church and state. Britain combined church and state. The Holy Roman Empire combined church and state. The Third Reich combined church and state. The USA combined church and state. We always get the same thing: the rule of the powerful instead of the more perfect union of a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The “church” in Greek is “ekklesia,” the term used for the decision-making body of the people in the first experiment in democracy in ancient Athens.
The liberals and the conservatives are endlessly in conflict by design. The social conflict is baked into the political system. The polarization we witness in social media is a manifestation, in the form of our digital infrastructure, of our mental biases and divided social identities. Very roughly—and this is a gross generalization—Facebook tends toward the old, closed, conservative, and white supremacist, and Twitter tends toward the young, open, liberal, and diverse, at least in their responses and approaches to free speech on their respective platforms.
“And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”
— Daniel 2:43
The American Empire is the richest nation on Earth. This is because it hoards its wealth and closes its borders to prevent anyone from stealing their property. They hire police to protect the stuff within their borders. They hire armies to protect their stuff and eliminate the threats posed by perceived enemies around the world, with 800 military bases scattered around their global empire.
My family are all hoarders. The members of my profession are hoarders. My nation is a nation of hoarders. Americans and Canadians, we are all trying to protect what is ours.
I decided long ago that I was going to try to figure out how to care for people more than I care about things.
Years ago, our family had a condo in Whistler, we were able to share that space and enjoy being together. But when my brother got married, that space became his. I had to ask for the privilege to stay there. When I did come to visit, I saw my sister-in-law and newborn niece, but my brother didn’t bother to spend any time with me.
Time is what matters to me. That is what I consider my love language. Time to listen. Time to talk. Time to share a meal and an authentic conversation. I have never really had that with my family of origin. There is only time to proselytize, because I don’t believe in the way that they have all misinterpreted scripture. They believe that God created the universe so he could damn the majority of the human beings he has created to eternal conscious torment. As a father, I find that to be unconscionable. That does not sound like a loving God to me.
I have learned more about love from people who are not trying to lord over other people their wealth, their “blessings,” the knowledge they have amassed about their sacred texts, and their extensive knowledge of brain biochemistry. (My father believes everyone must avoid amines by omitting sugar, bananas, raisins, cheese, and chocolate from their diet, because of his research into serotonin and its ability to cause disruptions in the brain’s ability to send messages across the synapses.)
My parents were always running after the leaders who could explain the scriptures, thinking that knowledge was all that you needed to be “saved.” We had audio tapes, pamphlets, comics, books, videos, and plastic games with “Jesus Loves You” printed on them, and “John 3:16” pencils, because our family ran the Christian bookstore in our town.
I didn’t learn about love from any of those things. I learned about love from my best friend, who also became my wife, because she took the time to listen and to help me share my thoughts and feelings, when no one else in my life ever cared.
That is why I write about “White Saviour Complex.” My family of origin runs around, thinking that they are doing the world a favour by sharing their gospel with everyone they meet. But they completely disregard the destruction that they leave in their wake.
The American Empire has been running around the world trying to do the world a favour by sharing their gospel of democracy and capitalism. But what has been the result of their proselytizing? Everyone in the world hates the American Empire. They are happy to watch it burning, because they are finally getting what they have deserved for hoarding everything for themselves and then trying to convince all the countries of the world to be just like them.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
— Matthew 23:15
So, when my family of origin is done giving us the silent treatment, maybe we can have an authentic conversation. Otherwise, why should I bother?