The United States fought a costly proxy war against Russia and China in the small country of Vietnam. It cost billions of dollars, erased a generation, and left scars upon our national soul. One of the objectives of that conflict was to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people.

A similar and equally failed proxy war has also been fought in America for the past half century. And for all the billions of dollars spent, lives lost and damage done, we have not won the hearts and minds of our own people either.

All the social programs we have established for the welfare of our country have been to blunt the affects of racism and class injustice. Medicare, student grants, social security, equal housing laws, all the safety nets that form our society. Yet none of the efforts target the core issue of institutional racism derived from greed, so we can never win a proxy fight through attrition.

There are no incentives to change poor social behavior just because to do so is right or honorable. There are only negative consequences, that use the unequal application of the law for punishment. We try to legislate morality, something that did not work with Prohibition. Yet we have not given people a reason to let go of their fear and anger, instead our community guilts each other with fractured religious dogma.

We look back at Vietnam and realize that our national leaders, all over the political spectrum, knew for years and that the conflict could not be won. Yet we fought. And the many lost for the gain of a few. It is time for America and Milwaukee to accept that we have lost the war on social justice and will continue to fight loosing battles unless our strategy changes. And just like that war in Southeast Asia, who in Milwaukee is being called to fight? Who sits out from participating in the struggle? And who profits most from the perpetual problems?

Every Sunday at church we hear about God’s love. I am devout in my faith. But almost nothing I see in the daily headlines reinforce the idea that love lives in this world. Evangelicals have perverted a faith for their own angry ends, and not even they know what they want to be at peace. Making the Kingdom of God on Earth is more than the extermination or conversion of everyone who does not believe as they do.

There are no shortages of scriptures used to condemn people for everything they do that is against a particular agenda. Many paper Bible editions quote Jesus in red text, and pretty much everything he said was about love. So much love, it could make someone sick to listen to. And perhaps that is what Evangelicals reject.

Expressions of love made Jesus look weak. Yet for those who follow the Christ, the Messiah, When people use religion to support their persecutional beliefs, they never quote passages of love. Perhaps the idea makes them feel sick too. A Jesus who has compassion is far too weak with all that love talk. So it is convenient to ignore those parts, basically all the red words and underlying message of the entire New Testament. It is easier to embrace a wrathful Old Testament God who only punishes under the law. Or Jesus with a gun. Those people fashion their faith into a weapon that seeks to shackle a world into a slavery that Jesus came to set them free of.

Everyone is to blame, liberals and conservatives, and the complicity starts right here in Milwaukee.

Instead of pushing people by stick or carrot to do good, if we cultivated in our hearts and community the will and desire to actually be good, that would drive the motivation for everything else. Helping the poor would not be a political fight, it would be the obvious thing to do. If people had a respect for “the other” there would be no need for hate crime laws or their unequal enforcement.

We often hear that “it is what it is,” instead of admitting that it is what we make of it. Or, it is what we allow to happen.