Dear International Friends

About 25% of the people who visit the Humble Blog are foreigners. Among others, this morning, a few Nigerians have stopped by. These words are for them. I imagine they would acknowledge Nigeria, like every country in the world, has serious challenges to overcome, but they would never characterize their country the way the President of the United States characterized some developing countries yesterday.

When caught saying hateful, racist, abhorrent things, the President acts in an extremely predictable way, and today is no different. Like a second grader at recess, he denies saying what others heard and in many cases recorded. As if by denying his words, he has the power to erase them.

The President does not speak for the vast majority of Americans who know Haitians, Salvadorans, Nigerians, and other Africans strengthen the U.S. Also, most Americans are far more aware than the President that Haitians, Salvadorans, Nigerians, and other Africans come from beautiful places with rich cultures that have proven amazingly resilient in the face of U.S. imperialism. They also know that we are an immigrant nation, that the vast majority of us came from other places, and that our economic success is, in large part, the result of hardworking, law-abiding immigrants from every corner of the globe.

The President has never read Chinua Achebe, Toussaint Louverture, or Manlio Argueta, because he doesn’t read.

We will turn him out in three years or less. And then we will go to work repairing the damage he’s done to the environment, the rich/poor divide, and the prestige of the office. And we will work to repair all of our international alliances, working doubly hard  to reconcile with the proud people of the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa.

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One True Religion?

Indulge me while I paint with a broad brush. Most people are either religious or non-religious. Among the religious, quite a few believe their religion is the one true religion. Consequently, those outside their tradition are unsaved or infidels and doomed to eternal damnation.

This “zero-sum, sheeps and goats” line of religious thinking might make a modicum of sense if there was a genuine free-market of religious ideas from which each adult chose once they had considered a wide-ranging smorgasbord. A grand religious meritocracy if you will where the most enlightened, hopeful, helpful religions would probably hold claim to the most adherents.

But that’s not even close to how religious people “choose their religion”. People’s religious choices are mostly the result of where they’re born. And I don’t know about you, but I had no control over where I was born (shout out to my faithful following in Boise, ID). Born in Northern Nigeria, one’s almost certainly a Moslem; Southern Nigeria, a Christian; central India, a Hindu; Israel, a Jew; Alabama, a Southern Baptist: Utah, a Mormon. In fact, do people choose their religion or does their family’s religion or the predominant religion where they grow up tend to choose them?

If religious identities are rooted in geography and culture, “zero-sum, sheep and goat, mine is the one true religion” belief only makes sense if some countries and cultures are special, divinely created, better than the rest. And why trust anyone who believes they won the birthplace lottery of life about religion or anything else?

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