These violent, twisted people who unleash their rancid hatred to massacre the innocent are not Goliaths. They are the spawn of the Goliaths within our culture who stand across the valleys of life and threaten to destroy our nation, much as the Goliath of yore challenged the nation of Israel.
These modern Goliaths embody:
■ Our nation's addiction to guns and violence. Even while we decry the Boston bombers' violence we clamor for the surviving brother to be put to death.
■ The ongoing scourge of racism and blindness to the ways we continue to tell people of color that their feelings and lives don't matter.
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■ Growing income inequality that puts people so deeply in the trenches of poverty they can't climb out.
■ Ever-growing belief among some that their country is being taken away from them; the overwhelming power of money in our national politics;
■ Anti-intellectualism that, for example, permits our senior U.S. senator and other legislators to deny the environmental crisis our planet is facing.
So what are patriots of conscience to do against these mighty Goliaths? Wringing our hands, showing sympathy just won't cut it. Apathy and moral isolationism are flesh-eating, destructive bacteria gnawing away at the very backbone and fiber and heart of this nation.
David picked up five smooth stones, his wooden staff and his sling, to defeat Goliath. Our sling is surely our intelligence to know that our nation cannot continue to live with these terrible atrocities. Our staff is the moral truth found in virtually every world religion: Love your neighbor as yourself.
The first stone is empathy, grown from intentional listening with reverence to the experiences of others whose lives may be very different from our own.
The second stone is confession, which can only happen with honest self-examination.
Let's admit that we are very blind to white privilege and deaf to the ways in which our culture continues to tell people of color that their lives don't matter. Let's confess that the Civil War was the greatest act of treason ever unleashed against the ideals of this nation. Let's admit that the "lost cause" of the Confederacy wasn't about states' rights but about the right of people to own and enslave other people.
Let's admit that Jim Crow laws continued to advance the belief in white superiority and that too many remnants of that belief still exist.
The third stone is our voice. Let's speak up and make the name of Jefferson Davis a small footnote in the history of Transylvania University, never again emblazoned on any building there. More important, let's demand that his statue in our Capitol rotunda be removed to the Kentucky History Museum where he belongs.
The fourth stone is our right to vote: Let's use it and make sure others use it. Let's elect people not beholden to corporations. Let's elect people who put principle above loyalty to money, who know how to think and find compromises. Let's elect people who believe in using their intelligence, not denying it.
There is one more stone that people of conscience should use: the power of the boycott. We should simply leave when we see someone openly carrying weapons in a restaurant or store. Leave your food on the table, your potential purchases in the basket, don't pay and don't patronize that business again until its policy changes.
For example, many fathers received a Hallmark card on Father's Day. Hallmark allows guns in its stores and has rejected a letter from the National Gun Victims Action Council and the Newtown Victims and Clergy for Corporate Responsibility to change its policy. I will let Hallmark know that I care enough to send the very best and it will no longer be a Hallmark card.
We must do more than merely hating the evil that we see more than we love the good, lest we become only damned good haters. We have enough of those. If we love the good, people of conscience today can be David. Goliath is before us and among us and within us, but Goliath can be defeated.
Let's pick up those five stones and use them against the Goliaths who threaten everything good about America.