On Easter night I watched the movie, Heaven Is Real. I don’t know if you saw this when it was in theaters a couple years ago. At the end of the movie, a pastor concludes:
Heaven is real. And if we all really believed heaven is for real, we would all lead different lives, wouldn’t we? God is love. Don’t we say, “on earth as it is in heaven.” And so, haven’t we already seen heaven in the cries of a baby, in the love of a mother and a father, in the courage of a friend. Haven’t we already seen the heaven of love but yet we choose the hell of hate, the hell of fear.
Is this life we’re living each day real? If we believe it is real then why do we do some of the things we do? And if we believe it is real, then should we be doing something different? I challenge myself on these questions often. And I look at the question through the prism of what is going on in my family, my city, my state, my country, churches, politics and communities across the groups I interact with.
Last week we commemorated 50 years since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the last several years of his life, he was a hated man by white nationalists, KKK and white southerners who didn’t want the improvements of life for blacks that he was fighting for. Even in black communities, some feared the change he was seeking but many were courageous enough to stand with him and support him. His courage and the courage of those who stood with him was real.
To persevere for what we believe is right even when the odds are stacked against you, that is real. The struggles that many people endured for civil rights, human rights, women rights, the rights of blacks & Latinos, etc., to have access to what the constitution and laws provide … all of these struggles are real. These struggles take perseverance despite others telling you that your rights aren’t real. You almost have to be more than human, a magical super hero to overcome the massive struggles of slavery, reconstruction, the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow-era, segregation, post-segregation and even the era we’re in now. Jesse Williams, the actor, spoke very eloquently at an awards show about the strength it takes to get through these struggles:
When we stand up for what we believe, that is real.
Sometimes though, there are occasions when we use what is real / what is truth as a weapon. When we defame others or tear down others in the process of truth / reality just to make ourselves look good, that tarnishes our cause and in a way it invalidates what was real. Is it still real when you take truth and contort it or taint it to make you look better? We may be doing it without malice, maybe out of self-preservation but the result is the same. What was real no longer looks real. To be honest, I personally have had to check myself sometimes on this and I have ended up chastising myself. Beware of those times when self-preservation or self-defense turns into contorting what is real. I doubt that I am the only one who has done this.
It’s no longer real if we change what was real to the point that it is no longer recognizable truth, no matter what our motivation is. That’s what we would call “incredible,” as in not credible. Not real.
I started writing this particular blog several days ago. It doesn’t usually take me anywhere near this long to write my blogs. I wasn’t sure how to frame what I wanted to say but I had this topic on my mind to share. I thought about whether to put things in the context of the zany “fake news” that we’re hearing so much about because that is clearly not real. But this thought of “what is real” has been on my mind and not just in the political sense so I didn’t want to overemphasize that. So, just a few words on the politics of what isn’t real.
It’s not real when the facts are one thing and we refuse to believe the facts. As they say, you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. No amount of lying or fooling the public will make the facts change … lies still don’t become real no matter how many times they are said. One of the areas that has annoyed me the most since the presidential election of 2016 is blatant lying as if those lies were actually real. I just can’t get over it and can’t imagine the gullibility of ordinary people going along and the complicity of knowledgeable politicians going along. Oh but I digress … enough of that.
Here’s the thing, I think what is real is felt in our bones. I think it’s that simple. I think you know when it’s not real, you truly just know it.
I think people instinctively know what is real, feel what is real. We might want to ignore those instincts but we know what’s real. I believe that love is real. In fact love may be the only sustainable thing that is real … love extends across life forms.
That’s why heaven is real. That’s why truth is real. That’s why struggles are real because they lead to truth. That’s why civil rights are real because fighting for them lead to truth. That’s why courage is real because being courageous is love. Love=truth=courage=real. And that is heaven here on earth.