Sunday, June 21, 2020

“Gator Bait!” – Owning Our Shadow

1955, Gainesville, FL; Baby Gator with Grandpa
My relationship with the University of Florida runs long and deep. My parents met at the university in the post-WWII era when my Dad returned from the Pacific theater to attend college on the G.I. Bill.  My Mother, one of the first gutsy women to attend UF, was in the first entering class of co-eds at the formerly all-male university. She endured the daily catcalls from hungover frat boys on her way to class:

“The maids are getting’ whiter every day…”

Sadly, racism and sexism have been a part of this university’s self-expression for a very long time.

I began my life as a baby Gator, living on the campus in Fla-Vet Village, former military barracks moved to the Gainesville campus from Camp Blanding near Jacksonville to house the waves of veterans now enrolling at UF. Though I don’t remember it, I am told I was present with my parents at the dedication of the beautiful Century Tower in the center of the tree-lined campus in 1954. The tower, complete with carillon which tolls the quarter hours daily, was erected to celebrate the first 100 years of the state’s oldest university.

My roots run deep at this university from which I would eventually get an undergraduate and a law degree.

My Dad began taking my younger brother and I to football games in Gainesville when I was 11. In the midst of a late November cold driving rainstorm, we saw the Gators come from behind to defeat their hated rivals, the Miami Hurricanes, 12-10. I was hooked and for a good chunk of my life, I was a die-hard Gator fan, prone to assert that when cut I bled orange and blue.

I grew up chanting "Gator Bait!" at opposing teams without a second thought. It made perfect sense to me given the reputation for ferocity that alligators hold. That’s particularly true in a state where these reptiles live in every body of water from our freshwater lakes to the local retention pond at the top of the infernal cul-de-sacs in the countless tract housing projects that have swallowed up Florida.

I had absolutely no idea of the dark history behind this idea. Until now.

Unavoidable Connections  

Earlier this week I had read that the university had decided to end its use of the Gator Bait cheer due to a racist history. That was certainly news to me. I also read that there were a lot of people upset about it. That’s hardly surprising.

For many, it is a chant that almost instantly evokes memories of a time in most UF graduates’ lives that they tend to remember with some fondness. Taking that away is a bit like throwing out your favorite tee shirt and along with it the people, places and events whose memories you connect with it.

There is also a reluctance to acknowledge that one’s conduct could have been seen as racist and thus hurtful to others, particularly when one was unaware of it.

In a time of heightened racial sensitivity, Robin DiAngelo’s work, White Fragilty, is helpful in understanding the reluctance we white people have to recognizing our unrecognized and unintentional racism. DiAngelo observes that we all want to see ourselves as having gotten past those misanthropic understandings of the past both individually and as a society.

Our understandings of racism are largely reduced to caricatures of Klansmen with hoods and Rebel flags flying off pickup trucks at drag races. What self-respecting white person would see him/herself in that manner? (Here I would remind UF alumni that until the late 1960s, the UF Band still played “Dixie” at football games but ended that practice due to the recognition of its racist roots.)  

Finally, there is a broad philistinism that has marked the rise of Trumpland in which misanthropic attitudes and behaviors have come to be celebrated and any acknowledgment of their harmfulness has come to be seen as a knee-jerk “political correctness” largely practiced by “snowflakes.” Amusingly, this fails to recognize the irony that this charge is leveled by people so brittle about being called on their own prejudices that they feel the need to project their own brittleness onto others.

I must admit there was a part of me that felt offended when I first heard this news, wondering if PC hadn’t gone too far this time. After all, it was one of my oxen being gored here. It wasn’t until I saw the Snopes article on the subject that I understood why the university had made such a decision.

This well-researched and documented article lays out an exhaustive history of the usage of this archetype. Whether or not the actual practice of using black babies as bait to trap alligators ever occurred (and it appears very doubtful that it actually did), the pattern of thinking that it reflects is deeply troubling.

The original construct of Gator Bait, whose appearance on racist post-cards predates the inception of football at the University of Florida by a good decade, was clearly designed to devalue, dehumanize and intimidate people of color while simultaneously reasserting white dominance. Given the bloody history of our state with its brutal lynchings and at least two major massacres of African-American communities (Rosewood, Ocoee), it doesn’t take much imagination to see that connection. The mere fact that white people felt they had the privilege of creating and circulating such caricatures with impunity speaks volumes in itself about white privilege.

In all fairness, I’m not convinced nor am I suggesting that the “Gator Bait” cheer arose as a means to express racist venom. What I suspect is that the white male (because they were the only students who were there until the 1940s) fomenters of school spirit at UF simply picked up a racist meme they could use for their immediate needs and ran with it. But bear in mind that this in itself evinces privilege – the ability, willingness and presumption of entitlement to use images of others in ways that are deleterious to their interests without regard for them as fellow human beings or the harm it might cause them.

The Luxury of Not Knowing

To say I was shocked when I read this news is an understatement. My reaction was much the same as when I recently discovered my mother's family history of slave ownership. I uncovered that little gem of family history that I’d never been told about while going through the genealogical materials I found in our family home after my Dad's death.

From Florida State Archives 
I’d always loved my home state and so was proud to discover that I was actually a sixth generation Floridian. Then I noticed from the Census data that the first generation of Webbs who came here from North Carolina arrived with two slaves. Undoubtedly they also came with at least one gun. Those were the requirements of Florida law for land grants in the time frame after the runaway Creeks (who had come to call themselves Seminoles or Miccosukee) had been deported to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears leaving Florida open for a wave of white slave holders to “settle” here.

I felt a shudder of revulsion as I read those records. My ancestors were slavers. I had never known that.

What becomes clear to me as I recall my shock in making that discovery – much like the knot rising unbidden in my stomach upon reading the history of Gator Bait - is the unavoidable recognition of the white privilege I have experienced all my life in not knowing the whole story. It is a luxury not to know the dark side of one’s existence. And it is a mark of privilege to insist one not be informed of it.

To know one’s history with all of its warts requires the knower to come to grips with it. For me it has meant recognizing that my family history is tainted by the horrendous practice of slavery. And now it means that at the beloved alma mater in which I have celebrated family ties for three generations, I and my classmates engaged in a practice which evidenced institutionalized racism.

I need to note here that I do not feel guilty about either of these practices this since I had nothing to do with their existence. Still, it breaks my heart to know this.  And it is precisely at this point that moral culpability becomes a part of the equation.

With Knowledge Comes Responsibility

I am a retired university lecturer in religious studies and Episcopal priest and so it’s not terribly surprising that I often process things through the lens of religious symbols. I am struck by the similarity in these awakenings I document above to the so-called "forbidden fruit" myth pattern set in the Garden of Eden that we see in Genesis. As quickly as both Adam and Eve had eaten of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, " the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked..." (Genesis 3:7).

With knowledge comes moral responsibility. Like our prototype human ancestors, we find ourselves naked before the complete truth of our existence. And it is rarely comfortable.

Contrary to Augustine’s construction of the Genesis story, this awakening did not mean that the “very good” human creations suddenly became depraved in their entirety, passing their sinful state to offspring born with original sin in perpetuity. And it certainly didn’t mean the entire Creation that the Creator G-d had just assessed as “very good” somehow became “fallen” – a vale of sorrow cut off from its Creator - simply because its human children had awakened to adulthood with all of its responsibilities.

Augustine, Calvin and Luther were simply wrong here.

What it did mean is that the human children of Eden had grown up. On our best days, we will always be the mixed bags of good and evil inclinations we have been since our beginnings. How we choose to act on those inclinations speaks volumes about who we are as individuals, the cultural values we have come to cherish and the health of the societal institutions we build.

The Courage to Own All of Who We Are

Like Adam and Eve prior to meeting the serpent, the thousands of UF alumni and students who unwittingly chanted a caricature rooted in racism did so without knowledge or will to harm others, the requirements of criminal intent. Neither guilt nor shame can be imputed to behaviors engaged unless the actors knew or should have known the wrongfulness in those behaviors. Indeed, one of the abject failures of Augustine’s “Fall” theology is that it imputed to all newborns an innate sinfulness that was simply impossible to be justified given their status.

But all of that changes with a mouthful of fruit and the opening of eyes. With the university’s statement and the availability of documentation on sites like Snopes, none of us can say we could not have known. And with that knowledge, I and all my classmates at UF, past and present, now have choices to make.

We can continue using a chant with the knowledge of its racist roots because it warms our hearts and connects us to our roots. We can continue to opt for our own comfort even as we know it comes as the expense of others’ suffering. We can seek to rationalize that choice by attempting to shift its blameworthiness to those who have inconveniently brought it to our attention, charging them with political correctness. And we can fly into self-righteous rages when those who observe our behaviors rightly accuse us of racism.

Or we can choose to discontinue our participation in that chant - as much as it might pain us - because we know it harms others. We can choose to be responsible moral agents. We can opt for healing rather than digging a long festering wound any deeper.

It would be an understatement to say that this news about “Gator Bait” troubles me. I no longer have the luxury of innocence, the privilege of not knowing this dark history which has always been a part of my life, albeit unknown to me. I’ve taken another bite from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and awakened to a little more of the whole than I previously knew. I now must live with the knowledge that comes from that encounter.

That said, I am willing to wrestle with my soul, to hold this new knowledge in tension with the positive images I cherish of my alma mater. And to any of my fellow UF grads who are courageous enough to avoid the seductive default inclinations to denial, dismissal and scapegoating - the defense mechanisms that immediately spring into action on occasions of cognitive dissonance – I invite you to pull up a chair.

May we find the courage to own all of who we are. May we come to see our venerable alma mater with all of her warts. And perhaps for the first time, may we actually love our alma mater, our soul mother – ALL of her - embracing her just as she is.

Harry Scott Coverston
Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

Those who believe religion and politics aren't connected don't understand either. – Mahatma Gandhi

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d?  - Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (1993)

 © Harry Coverston, 2020


Monday, June 08, 2020

“I Can’t Breathe” - Dominion, Domination and Us

And G-d said fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over every
living thing.Genesis 1: 28

The first chapter of Genesis is one of the most beloved passages of sacred writing from any tradition in the world. Opening with the words: “In the beginning when G-d began creating the heavens and the earth,”  Genesis offers a lyrical and poetic account filled with rich imagery of an intricate life world being methodically organized from chaotic, unorganized raw materials. Genesis details an ongoing creative process that continues today.

These writings are the work of a group of priestly scholars whose primary role was to take a wide range of existing sacred writings and put everything into a single story called the Torah. Not surprisingly, well-defined roles and duties to others are key understandings for both the creation of the world as well as our place within it.

It is telling that the initial moment of this story begins with this creator G-d. “In the beginning…G-d…” All things that follow that beginning point – including us human beings –come from the G-d who is the origin of everything. From that beginning of creation in G-d, the Priestly writers lay out a process of organization and development starting with the heavens above and ending with human beings below.

One of the reasons we love this Priestly vision of creation is because it is so positive regarding the creation itself and thereby ourselves as an essential part of that creation: “And G-d saw everything he had made and it was very good.”

It’s important to note what this does not say: “It was perfect.” Perfection is a Greek concept, not a Hebrew term. Humanity has been an imperfect creation from the very beginning. But even in our imperfections, we have always been very good. And that includes the capability of learning from our mistakes. We are born bearing the image of G-d with the potential to grow ever more into the divine likeness.

Dominion, NOT Domination

A critical moment in this account comes at the end of the roll call of created beings. The Priestly writers’ Creator says the following:  “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

The word “dominion” has long been a key concept in our understanding of ourselves as a species and our relation to the rest of the Creation. Sadly our misreading of that word has often proven to be a means of rationalizing irresponsible if not exploitative and destructive dealings with Creation and each other. For far too many of us, “dominion” has been confused with a related but very different term - “domination.”

Ironically, both words share the same root in Latin domus, a word which means “home.” Our English word domicile comes from that root. Dominion points toward the right relationship of members of a well-tended household. In this case, that household is the very good creation of which the human animal is a part - but only a part. It is the household human beings were created to care for. Dominion points toward a lifeworld which, when it is in balance, all living beings have their rightful place.

Domination, on the other hand, points toward power relationships. Domination is by definition exploitative, obsessed with the exercise of control over the powerless who are devalued in that process. The result of that exploitative relationship is inevitably the privilege of the few amassed at the expense of the many. In the end, domination is always poised on a slippery slope to sadism and destructiveness.

We saw a good example of domination at work this past week. That word was the focus of a speech seeking to rationalize the use of potentially lethal force by the world’s most powerful military to confront American citizens exercising First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and seek redress from grievance in the streets of our cities. Shortly after that speech, a peaceful crowd at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square across the street from the White House, protesting the killing of Floyd George by a police officer in Minneapolis earlier this month, was attacked by police officers without any warning using tear gas and rubber bullets.

Among those forced to flee was an Episcopal priest and a seminarian who had been distributing water and medical supplies to the crowd. When the tear gas had cleared, a Bible was thrust into the lens of a TV camera but never opened, much less read. Had it been, it’s possible the reader would soon have stumbled across Jesus teaching “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

This venerable old church is where Abraham Lincoln often slipped out at night to pray in the midst of a tumultuous time, not unlike our own, which threatened the end of the country he governed. It is a church where presidents have prayed for two centuries. But this day St. Johns was never entered and no prayers were said. Rather, its courtyard had been cleared without warning through violence to become the scene for a political photo opportunity. This was a showcase for domination. As Central Florida Episcopal Bishop Greg Brewer put it, this was “Blasphemy in real time.”

Domination is inevitably about power. But the Hebrew reference to dominion points toward shalom, right relationship with one another. With any relationship comes duties the parties have to one another. That includes those of human beings to other human beings and it includes duties of human animals to the rest of the natural world.

The failure to live into the duties of dominion proves catastrophic to all of the members of the domus, the household of G-d. We see that in a world where human behaviors are causing an extinction rate of non-human animals at up to 10,000 times the natural rate. And we see it in the way Coronavirus has played out disproportionately among people of color in our in prisons, on indigenous reservations and in the packing plants where the death rates of working poor – those whose labor is seen as essential to all of us even as their lives are not – are off the charts.   

To be entrusted with dominion, the household of Creation, means valuing all its members and tending to their needs. When parents fail to take care of the needs of their children, those children are often removed from the household. When trustees of institutions fail to live into their duties, they are often removed from office. The words of Thomas Jefferson are particularly troubling here: 

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

So why is that important? Why should we recognize and value our origins in G-d and thereby our connectedness to all that exists?  Why should we care about being responsible to all the other living beings in our lifeworld?

I Can’t Breathe…

The last few weeks have provided us with more than enough reasons beginning with the last words of George Floyd. As he lay dying on the streets of Minneapolis beneath the knee of a law enforcement officer, he called out to his dead Mother to come to him. Perhaps her spirit was waiting there to accompany his soul to the next world. But it is difficult to hear this agonizing call and not recognize the echoes of another young man dying under the heel of domination who called to his own parent: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

George Floyd repeated this phrase over and over until his last dying breath escaped him: “I can’t breathe.”  It is a refrain we can hear all around us if we have ears to hear it.

“I can’t breathe.”

The last words to loved ones at the other end of an I-Pad connection from patients on a ventilator as they lie dying in the hallways of hospitals overrun by victims of a vicious disease. It is a contagion spread in part by an abject failure of policy by those entrusted with leadership as well as a corresponding failure in the duties of egocentric individuals to be mindful of others.

“I can’t breathe.”

The words of young working people already swamped by debt and paid far too little to live in an economic system stacked against them to benefit the wealthy. Many have now lost the meager income they had and are looking at eviction.

“I can’t breathe.”

The sputtering gasps of a planet whose very life breath is being destroyed by relentless exploitation starting with the destruction of the Amazon Basin, the lungs of “this fragile earth, our island home.” 

Thank G-d for Second Chances

So where is the good news in all of this?

First, it is essential that we understand now that G-d is not going to swoop down and save us from ourselves. Remember, G_d, has left us in charge, stewards of the creation with dominion over the earth. The harm that is being done to the powerless - from people of color on our streets to the very heart of the Earth itself - is a matter of human choices including our willingness to silently acquiesce to them.

We cannot make this reality go away by simply ignoring it, seeking to escape, distracting ourselves with yet another Netflix binge watch or online shopping spree. If the harm is to end, it is up to us as a people to consciously and intentionally choose to make it happen. To paraphrase British philosopher Edmund Burke, “The only way for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

There is a word for such choices. It is called repentance. And the result of such choices is also summed up in a word. It is called redemption. Fortunately for us, we actually have the chance to make such a choice.

We stand at a time in our world’s history in which one era is ending and another is waiting to emerge. In the wake of this pandemic our preexisting world is collapsing.  We have an unparalleled opportunity to step back, reflect and repent of our failures. Out of that repentance comes the potential for redemption, a gracious second chance in our calling to be responsible stewards of creation, and an opportunity to actually help heal a suffering world.

The new world that will rise from the ruins of the old is not yet clear. And it will not materialize quickly, despite our desperate desires for instant gratification. For us, it is an enormous opportunity as well as an enormous responsibility. But if there has ever been a time when we needed to be responsible to our Creator, ourselves, one another and the Creation we were given to care for, it is definitely right now.

 This day I give thanks for second chances. I give thanks that while perfection is not required of us, our humble willingness to admit and learn from our mistakes will be enough. I am grateful that G-d’s loving and empowering presence will be with us at every step of all our endeavors.

And I pray that G-d will help each of us find the strength and courage to answer our calling as individuals and as a people to reflect, where necessary to repent, and to seek redemption in the healing of a broken, suffering but always a very good Creation. To that calling, in the words of our Baptismal Covenant, may we respond: “I will with God’s help.” 


[A sermon preached on Trinity Sunday, Pentecost I, 2020, at St. Richard's Episcopal Parish, Winter Park, FL on June 7, 2020. 

You are invited to watch this morning’s worship from St. Richard’s, Winter Park. I am the celebrant and preacher.

This sermon begins at the 39:00 mark.

Harry Scott Coverston
Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

Those who believe religion and politics aren't connected don't understand either. – Mahatma Gandhi

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d?  - Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (1993)

 © Harry Coverston, 2020

Saturday, June 06, 2020

A Mourning Walk in the Heart of Orlando

The public had been invited by the African-American clergy of Orlando to come, walk and pray together with our fellow citizens of this metropolitan area in the midst of a pandemic. And so we assembled at the Citrus Bowl stadium just as the rush hour - as much as still remains of it in our pandemic stricken cities - subsided. With a double entendre of a name, (the gathering began at 9 AM)  this Mourning Walk was designed to commemorate the lives of people of color who have died at the hands of police violence across our nation over the past two months.

I was conflicted about attending given the reality of the COVID19 pandemic but at another level only too happy to go. The ominous context of this assemblage was the stark potential for contracting the Coronavirus. We know it is more likely to be spread in crowds like this one. And Florida is currently reporting its highest numbers of new cases since the pandemic began here three months ago even as it plunges ahead with its second phase of reopening bars, restaurants and theme parks. That awareness was reflected by the vast majority of the crowd arriving with masks and the local black fraternities who passed out snacks, bottled water and masks to those without them.

To people like me, who will be 67 this September, this virus is a potential killer. And we know it is, sadly, more prevalent among people of color than people who look like me, winners of the genetic lottery in a racist culture. There was more than a little risk being borne by this assembled crowd this day. 

But some things are more important than one’s comfort with the circumstances. Indeed, some things are more important than one’s life itself. This day, I made the choice to answer the calling justice has imposed upon this time in our history as a people and upon me as a human being with a deep conscience and a broken heart.

And so I donned my clerical shirt (the crowd was asked to wear black for mourning) and my industrial mask (more to protect others from my own potential infection of them than me from them) and took off for the newly refurbished Citrus Bowl, the massive stadium in which numerous games bearing corporate logos are played each year.

After a few moments of instructions from the organizers, most of which were inaudible due to the heavy presence of helicopters overhead, the procession began. Having been in El Salvador during the “civil” wars (could any description be more oxymoronic?) that my government funded and organized in the early 1990s, I was more than a little on edge as this walk to call out evil and mourn its casualties began.

Soon I was joined by three mask-wearing parishioners from St. Richards. And shortly thereafter, the mask-wearing daughter of a lifelong friend came flying up to join me.

Clearly, we all were where we needed to be this day.

We were asked to remain silent during the procession and not display protest signs. We were there to mourn, to lament, to remember the dead, not to raise hell about the injustice. There would be plenty of time for that later.

The silent march proceeded a mile and a half down Church Street, a site deliberately chosen by the religious organizers of this event, along this four laned street named for the prevalence of churches that once graced this major east-west artery many years ago. Today those churches have been replaced by office buildings, bars and, in the “gentrified sections” transformed by corporate moneys, multimillion dollar sporting arenas and multi-story housing. Little but the name remains of its history.

The destination of the procession was Division Avenue. There the 1000 strong procession crossed over a tasteful engraving in the brick pavement that provides entry to the multi-million dollar arena where the Orlando Magic basketball team, Solar Bears hockey team and a wide array of concerts make their home. This, too, was an intentional choice. In years past, the Division Avenue of Jim Crow Orlando meant exactly what it said – here ends the “white” section of town to the east. Division was the de facto perimeter beyond which African-Americans could not create businesses and, more importantly, could not be present after sundown.

This gathering comes in the midst of a world-wide uprising over the slaughter of people of color, many in the streets of our nation and some in the sanctity of their homes. From the young black jogger chased by a pickup truck and shot in the residential streets of Brunswick to the young black woman aroused from her sleep in her Louisville home only to be shot down, to the middle aged man who died under the suffocating knee of the police officer in Minneapolis, there is much to be mourned this day. And we were here to share in that mourning.

What was striking about the procession was its racial composition. Unlike the civil rights marches of the 1960s, where little black girls wearing their “Sunday go to meeting” church clothes were blown down onto the hard concrete of Birmingham streets by heavily armed white policemen bearing fire hoses, this sea of black clad marchers was a reflection of the rich diversity of the Orlando metropolitan area. The speakers at the service at the march’s end included black, white and Hispanic leaders (who addressed the crowd in Spanish and English) and in the crowd the Asian population that reflects this majority-minority city were also represented.

Another aspect of the gathering that was striking was the role the local governments played in its happening. Rather than opposing the march, city and county officials marched with the crowd to a currently unoccupied city block scheduled for construction. There the city had erected a stage complete with sound system from which the mayor read the proclamation of the city council of this Day of Mourning and Restoration. The City Councilwoman representing the Paramore District, the historically black neighborhood of Orlando, spoke about redemption, an important idea in a country only beginning to grapple with its original sins of genocidal conquest and chattel slavery. And both the county sheriff and the city chief of police spoke of their support of demonstrators demanding the end to police brutality.  

The highlight of the morning was the moment when the Latino police chief for the city asked the crowd to take a knee together, in solidarity with all those who were fighting for justice and to ask for forgiveness for the harm that has been done to people across this country that gave rise to this uprising. He followed the white county sheriff who apologized for the harm done by law enforcement and assured the people that his force was intent upon not repeating those mistakes.

There are days when I dare to hope that the world we were given to make of as we saw fit can still be made the better place of which we are capable of making it. There are days that I am hopeful that the children our generation has brought into this troubled world may yet find the ways to heal the racial divisions we inherited largely unquestioned from our posterity.

For today, however, I give thanks to a gracious G-d for the city and county in which I live, in many ways an oasis of sanity, compassion and mindfulness amidst a sea of anger and fear. And I give thanks to those who organized this opportunity to march, pray and stand with my fellow Orlandoans in this day of mourning and restoration. May it become the first of many  steps down the long road to justice. 

Harry Scott Coverston
Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

Those who believe religion and politics aren't connected don't understand either.Mahatma Gandhi

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d?  - Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. - Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (1993)

 © Harry Coverston, 2020