Well Friends, I have been dumbfounded. I haven’t been sure what to write about lately because there is just so much sad news, I can hardly bear to write about it. When you grow up with oppression and live in fear of a belt and are refused an education, your hope turns to the government and church—people who try to make laws to protect you. But when your church and government rise toward authoritarianism it can really bring on your CPTSD. These days we all need to keep a paper bag nearby to breathe into or puke into–depending on the news du jour.
It’s even sadder to realize our own social media feeds probably contributed to the election of the lowest life form to ever enter the White House. The more intelligent people who voted for him are now beginning to realize he is not keeping his promise to drain the swamp, but selling it off to vipers through the highest bidders.
So what can we do when women are bullied and belittled as sex toys and not allowed to speak of the truth of racism in congress? We will persist and make our voices heard.
What can we do when other-abled people are made fun of and bullied by the powers that be? We can educate and stand up against bullying–and I’m not talking about protecting one spoiled millionaire’s child, I am talking about the brown kids, the fat kids and the gay kids down the block and most women reporters.
What can we do when a mother is separated from her children by an invisible wall that ultimately threatens their very existence? We can educate and offer empathy to those who are worried this will happen to their own families.
What can we do when racists and people who do not support the separation of church and state are able to buy their own seats in the cabinet of our land? We can pray and educate and write and call our congress men and women.
It’s hard to speak up and let our voices be heard when our Christian brothers and sisters disagree. I don’t have all the answers, but I recently came across a paper outlining the history of the Seventh day Adventist denomination in Nazi Germany. It was the most incriminating article I have ever read about the church I was born into and raised in. You can read it here. We cannot ignore our history, because history often repeats itself and there are many today who deny the holocaust ever happened. So here are a few voices to remind us of history.
“I remember: it happened yesterday or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the kingdom of night. I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.
“I remember: he asked his father: ‘Can this be true?’ This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?
“And now the boy is turning to me: ‘Tell me,’ he asks. ‘What have you done with my future? What have you done with your life?’
“And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
“And then I explained to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must–at that moment–become the center of the universe.” -Elie Wiesel
“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
“Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
These words come from a Protestant pastor who spend the last seven years of the Nazi rule in a concentration camp:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–
And there was no one left to speak for me.”
What can we do when other Christians insist we should be quiet? We can point out how the religious right is not very spiritual and not very right. It’s not enough to have a flag on your profile and post KJV Bible quotes at random. These things do NOT make a Christian. This war we are fighting comes from the kingdom of darkness—
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is NOT a war where we should post inflammatory memes or spew hate toward those who think differently than we do. Save your breath for breathing and breathe out love. Only love can heal the world.
Love does not boast,
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonor others,
Love is not self-seeking,
Love is not easily angered,
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil,
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects,
Love always trusts,
Love always hopes,
Love always perseveres.
-1 Corinthians 13
By this all people will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.
Love speaks the truth—whether your friends understand or your pastor agrees or your teacher cares. Just ask Viktor Frankl, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Niemöller, Maya Angelou, and Jesus. If we have learned anything from the past, it’s that we all need each other and all of our stories matter.