Why am I writing about Day Four of the DNC a month after the fact? Disappointment, for sure. Perhaps, even a bit of embarrassment. It’s not easy to write about Day Four, the last day, when the full realization of the futility of your efforts closes in a like thick blanket of darkness.
If you pack your bags and travel half way across the country, spending money you don’t have, to throw your emotional and even physical support behind ideas so true and right as an end to war, justice for the oppressed, and meeting the most basic of human needs like clean water, decent living wages, and healthcare, knowing full well the entire time that those ideas will be chewed up and spit out by the political wrecking machine we call the Democratic National Convention — you’re a fool. Holding your pathetic little candle, you know deep down that evil always wins this side of the grave. The flame flickers and the wax rolls down, burning your fingers.
It’s not as if idealistic goals are new, but so long as they remain embryonic, they might as well be. And in this dark world, where weeds of deception and greed spring up so quickly and easily choke out anything lovely we attempt to cultivate, people who waste their time pulling weeds are fools. I am a fool.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. – William Shakespeare
The political situation reminds me so very much of what it was like to unveil the glorious gem of Jesus Christ to His unsuspecting followers, the culmination of His life, death, and resurrection: Universal reconciliation, only to have the righteous truth chewed up and spit out by the religious wrecking machine — a nondenominational church (really a faux Baptist church) and one of many such cookie cutter organizations that would have behaved in precisely the same, predictable manner.
Similarly, it’s not as if universal reconciliation is a new concept, but so long as it remains embryonic, it might as well be. And in this dark world, where weeds of deception and greed spring up so quickly and easily choke out the lovely truth we attempt to nurture to fruition, people who waste their time pulling weeds are fools. I was a fool. Holding my pathetic little candle, I knew deep down that evil always wins this side of the grave. The flame flickered and the wax rolled down, burning my fingers. Still, I hold that candle, only it doesn’t hurt as much now.
Universal reconciliation is the idea that because of God’s divine love and mercy, every single human being will be reconciled to Him and will enjoy the relationship with his or her Creator for which he or she was created. In addition, in discovering we are reconciled to God we also discover that He enables us to have a perfectly reconciled relationship with one another, to live out the greatest two commandments to love God and love one another. Ideas like an ending war and oppression and meeting one another’s needs (clean water, decent living wages, and healthcare) align perfectly with the concept of universal reconciliation. Thou shalt love God. Thou shalt love one another. Those aren’t just commands. They are promises, sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
On our fourth day in Philadelphia, we had breakfast in the afternoon and then ventured out, umbrellas in hand, to a home Ben Franklin rented out, still standing over two hundred and fifty years later, the Benjamin Franklin Museum, and Franklin Court Printing Office and Bindery, where we saw men dressed in eighteenth century style clothing working a printing press similar to the one Ben Franklin used.
Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), American scientist, diplomat, and one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, identified himself as a printer. He wrote his own epitaph long before he died: “The Body of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Printer. Like the Covering of an old Book, Its contents torn out and stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be lost, It will (as he believ’d) appear once more In a new and more beautiful Edition Corrected and amended By the Author.” – National Museum of American History
Freedom of speech plays a crucial role in fighting deception. In the religion and politics, there is plenty of lip service given to the inherent value of the freedom of speech, but in practical application, freedom of speech is absolutely despised, because conveniently false or misleading ideas and corrupt practices are placed under the light of open scrutiny. In religion, people who exercise their freedom of speech are tolerated, so long as their ideas fall within the realm of orthodoxy. Otherwise, they are silenced. They go find somewhere else to fellowship, or they no longer participate in organized religion.
In politics, freedom of speech is exercised and tolerated more liberally than in religion, but it is tightly controlled under certain circumstances, that is, when there is a platform with any significant potential for influence. For example, protestors in Philadelphia were free to trumpet our opinions over megaphones and hold large signs painted with inconvenient truths. But our realm of influence was so limited that we were basically preaching to the choir. Thousands of police officers guarded miles of heavy fencing to ensure our message was contained. The national coverage gave the real, raw, rough, and messy message of protestors a mere nod compared to the orchestrated, rehearsed, and well-controlled performance of the Democratic establishment.
The freedom of the press is the bulwark of liberty. An impartial newspaper is the useful offspring of that freedom. Its object to inform. In the commonwealth, the people are the basis on which all power and authority rest. On the extent of their knowledge and information the solidity of that foundation depends. If the people are enlightened, the nation stands and flourishes, thro’ ignorance it fails or degenerates. These principles the editor holds just and fundamental… no consideration whatever shall induce him blindly to submit to the influence of any man or set of men: HIS PRESS SHALL BE FREE. – Benjamin Franklin Bache (publisher, Ben Franklin’s grandson)
While at the museum, I learned that Ben Franklin was the Julian Assange of his day:
Franklin was seen as a reluctant revolutionary, until he became convinced that the British treatment of the colonies was unjust.
In 1774, the British accused Franklin of treason against the Crown for having leaked letters written by the Massachusetts Lt. Governor that criticized the Boston rebels…
On January 29, 1774, Lord Alexander Wedderburn verbally attacked Franklin, accusing him of deliberately leaking letters in order to provoke colonial riots against England. This humiliating, hour-long confrontation took place before the members of the British Privy Council at the Cockpit (a room named for its previous use – cockfighting). While the councilors and onlookers jeered, Franklin kept his composure and remained silent.
“The Doctor… stood conspicuously erect, without the smallest movement of any part of his body. The muscles of his face had been previously composed as to afford a placid tranquil expression of countenance, and he did not suffer the slightest alteration of it to appear.” (Edward Bancroft, who observed the confrontation in the Cockpit) – Ben Franklin Museum
Rachel, Connie, and I walked from Franklin Court to St. George’s United Methodist Church:
Before other local African-American churches formed, St. George’s United Methodist Church welcomed black worshippers and licensed Richard Allen and Absalom Jones as the first African-American Methodist lay preachers. Eventually a dispute over segregated seating policies led to a walkout and the creation of African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas and Mother Bethel AME Church. St. George’s continues to work on amends for previous racial injustices. – Visit Philadelphia, Official Visitor and Travel Site
I wanted to see for myself the place where blacks and whites worshipped together under the same roof but in a segregated seating arrangement. What cognitive dissonance this must have caused for those experiencing the tension between social expectations and the powerful, unifying Spirit of God! Later, Richard Allen’s influence was evident in the lives of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr.
We made our way back to FDR park to find out whether there were more protests planned for the evening. Rachel and Connie were tired and wanted to go back to the hotel, kick back in their fold out chairs on the sidewalk outside the hotel room door, smoke cigarettes, and quietly vent to one another about how unfair the Democratic primary and convention were to Sanders supporters. My desire to be a witness to and participant with the protestors (fools accomplishing nothing in a very loud manner outside the Wells Fargo Convention Center) outweighed my desire for rest.
There were more people gathered than there had been in previous protests. The DNC nazis played mind games with protestors, as they had all week long. Apparently they got wind that the plan was for Sanders supporters to exit the coronation and meet up with protestors at the gate for a #DEMEXIT burn-your-democratic-voter-ID thing. But then, Sanders supporters in the convention center texted the protestors waiting outside to let us know that they were being sent to a different exit than the one they had used all week. So the protestors split into two groups, one at each exit. Then the Sanders supporters inside texted to let us know they were NOT ALLOWED to leave. Helicopters flew overhead the entire time. Police were positioned on the roof of the convention center, along the walls outside, along the fence on both the inside and outside, and along the edges of the crowd. My good guess is that for every two protestors, there was at least one police officer.
As the crowd chanted, “The whole world is watching,” I had my doubts. The whole world can only watch what the media shows them, unless, of course, they do their homework and find out for themselves whatever the media has decided they don’t need to know. But if the political world is anything like the religious one, people would rather be told what to believe and passively accept the perceived limitations created for them by corporate-American orthodoxy.
When my feet hurt like hell and my empty stomach churned and my camera battery flashed red, I walked a few blocks and flagged down a cab. On the way back to the hotel, I wondered, why do I devote myself to an effort in apparent futility? How can I justify that to someone not inside my head? The DNC establishment was not influenced at all by the hundreds of protestors inside the convention and thousands of protestors outside the convention. I knew ahead of time that H would be coronated and Sanders supporters would be treated like second class citizens, but I still went. Why?
For the same reason I try to persuade with my brothers and sisters in the faith to evaluate the validity of the doctrine of eternal torment, even though by all appearances, they are not influenced at all by my efforts. In my “religious tribe,” I am treated like a second class citizen, but still I insist on challenging orthodoxy. Why?
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. – Martine Luther King, Jr.
A candle is the most useful when it is positioned in the center of the blackest darkness.