Go High!

On the first Tuesday in November 2008, Annie and I were driving cross-country from the East Coast to the West to return to our home in Orange County, California. We were staying in a Motel 6 in not the nicest neighborhood in some Midwestern city and listening intensely as the election results were pouring in. We were hoping that Barack Obama would be our newly elected president and our first Black president. He was impressive, bright, articulate, young, energetic, and full of great ideas.

With our first Black president, I thought we were writing a new chapter in United States history. We did enter a new chapter, but not the one I was hoping for: that our country would rise above its racism. Instead, this chapter was about how deeply seated racism is in our country as we witnessed anti-racism and white nationalist movements abounding. Unfortunately, that chapter is still playing out, and there doesn’t seem to be an end.

In spite of many obstacles, one of which was a bit of Obama’s naivety, he did a great job, and it wasn’t hard to vote for him for a second term. I see him as one of the great presidents of our country.

But an additional gift came along with Barack’s election: his wonderful wife, Michelle Obama, who is so warm and inclusive and identified with those whom our country has unofficially identified as second-class citizens—people of color and low-income folks. Michelle did a great job of recognizing those folks and being a shining example of what it means to be a caring, loving, sharing First Lady.

I thought her book The Light We Carry was inspirational, honest, and genuine as she shared the story of how she met the challenges of racism, feminism, and classism.

One of the lasting lessons pounded into my head was her concept of “When they go low, we go high.” It’s one of those short catchy phrases that is so easy to say but incredibly difficult to do. Michelle, as a black educated professional woman, had spent most of her life going high as she, Barack, and her family were attacked at so many different levels.

I have voted Democrat my whole life primarily because I see that party more as the people’s party. That said, I’m also proud of President Joe Biden, who has gone high when it comes to dealing with the shenanigans of Donald Trump. He has said little or nothing about the man but has chosen to go high by pointing out all his administration’s accomplishments, and not attacking the forty-fifth president and his idiosyncrasies.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a Republican candidate who doesn’t go low and talk about Joe Biden’s son, or Biden’s age, or his humanity but concentrates on his or her plan to make our great country even greater? I would listen to this person. But now I simply tune out the Republicans, with their baseless attacks on the Biden family and their idiotic ideas about getting rid of the government and never taxing the rich.

My biggest challenge is can I go high when people attack my theology, my politics, and some of my cockamamie ideas? I really want to!

How about you?

Peace Love Joy Hope



Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy, Jakarta (public domain)

8 thoughts on “Go High!”

  1. For me, this is the single hardest part of professing Christianity. “Going high” when all around you there is hate, fear, lies and danger is SO hard. To make it FAR worse for me is the fact that most of this filth is being perpetrated by so-called “Christians.” White Evangelical Christians have been identified by our government as one of the most dangerous hate groups in America. It has been so obvious for so long— starting with slavery. According to the Bible, even Jesus finally had his fill with this corruption— turning over the money tables and taking up the whip. This is an agonizing struggle for most of us. What to do…

    • Hi Chris. I think I answered this but I’ll do it again. I have no trouble Going High with fundamentalists or Trumpers because they have no intention of ever listening to reason. Go ignore them and Go High. Yes, with some others it’s a real struggle but agape helps do thast. Do I fail? Of course, but that gives me something to do – start over tomorrow. We’re off to France for 3 weeks on Monday. We’re looking forward to it except this Israel thing could slow us down. I see nothing but a much bigger war looming in the near future.

  2. Perhaps going high when attacked is not workable. Michelle is a great attorney, teacher, leader, partner, and entrepreneur. Even so, who can do as she did?

    • Thanks Tom. I’m finding it very easy to “Go High” with fundamentalists and Trumpers because there can be no discussion. They’re right and everyone else is wrong. That’s easy. There’s group tat dislikes my thinking (which probably includes me) and they’re easy because they won’t even acknowledge me much less talk to me. I lead a weekly discussion group here in The Groves and they come from all over the place, politically, religiously and all sorts of other differences. It’s easy to “Go High” with them because they listen and want to discuss and hear other points of view. It’s unique but enjoyable. My conclusion: For all sorts of reasons it’s much easier to “Go High.” Pax. Bil


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