By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
In 1970, Gil Scott-Heron performed a work entitled, The Revolution Will Not be Televised, and while the piece came out on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s, Scott-Heron later explained revolution is about change and that “the first change that takes place is in your mind.”
As Right-Wing extremists continue to threaten violence to protect their rights, and as so many people refuse to see what is happening to the very structure of this country, it is clear that there is not enough change happening in the minds of Americans.
We are stuck. We are stuck in our legacy of white supremacy, sexism, classism and bigotry on many levels. Politicians like Mitch McConnell and President Biden are stuck; McConnell in his belief in and practice of domination politics, and Biden in his belief that bipartisanship is something that still exists – if it ever did.
Institutions, including the church, are stuck as well, stuck in the idea that “church” is a building, a place one goes to as opposed to being a way of living. White Nationalists are stuck in their belief that Jesus sanctions their bigotry and hatred, and others who call themselves Christian still do not get it that the foundation of Christianity is the Great Commandment – that we love God first with all our hearts, and that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
We are all stuck; if a revolution is taking place, it is not obvious.
Change is difficult, no matter when it happens or why. We get used to being where we have always been, even when we know moving will make our lives and the lives of the people we love better. We remain stuck in our tendency to serve and honor human beings rather than God- even though we use the name of God to justify our actions. We don’t know what loving our neighbor as ourselves will ultimately look like and cost us, but we do not want to know.
We are stuck.
I recently watched a movie about the horrific experience of Richard Jewel, the security officer who discovered a bomb in Centennial Olympic Park in 1996 and, even as he notified law enforcement, ushered many people away from the bomb’s location – only to be later accused of planting the bomb himself.
He was a young, White man, overweight and apparently had no swag of the sort that people respect and want to emulate. He had a checkered past – as we all do – and his past was used by ambitious journalists to spread the lie that he, in fact, was the culprit who planted the bomb.
It turned out that it was a man named Eric Rudolph who had planted that bomb and others, a White man as well who hated the government and ascribed to conspiracy theories. The most striking thing about this movie (and I do not know how accurate this is) is that Rudolph, who had a community of white nationalists supporting him because he had bombed abortion clinics as well. The white nationalist community of which he was a part had a deep hatred of abortion clinics and for people “killing babies,” but what the movie brought out was that they also had a deep love for their families. When Rudolph first made his way to a specific white nationalist community, they embraced him, but a bomb specialist representing the ATF who also knew the white nationalist community told the FBI that the way to catch Rudolph was to let them know that Rudolph had planted the bomb at Centennial Olympic Park as well. That would make them angry because members of their families had been at the park on that day.
What was depicted in the movie was a revolution that was not televised. The white nationalists teamed up with the federal government to catch Rudolph. Within both these groups, a change of mind had to happen so they could act upon their common goals and interests – for the FBI to catch and stop a serial bomber and for the white nationalist community, to protect their families.
America needs a revolution, but not one with guns with “both sides,” whatever they are, working to kill each other. No, the revolution that needs to happen is in the minds of people who have adhered to and continue to cling to ways of thinking, moving and acting that have not served this country or its citizens well.
At the end of the day, a true revolution in this country would be where people with opposing political, religious and ideological beliefs came together to work for the common good, as opposed to staying in their camps allowing the rich and powerful to become more rich and more powerful at the expense of all of us.
That is a revolution, which would not be televised or supported by corporations and many institutions in this country. They maintain their power by feeding us spoonsful of rhetoric that only make us more angry and anxious.
We need a true revolution.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at email@example.com.