If you’ve not yet awakened to the fact that the United States has changed in the last few months, it’s gonna be an even ruder awakening in time. It saddens me and many to see threats to the things we love about America from PBS and our National Park Lands, to censoring the media and removing all signs of science from national websites. If you haven’t watched “The Handmaid’s Tale,” you might be able to sleep a little longer, but the wake-up call is already here.
I can excuse people who voted for the narcissist-in-chief because I once had no clue what the signs of narcissism were. I can excuse people who are conservative and how that term once stood for decent, honest principles. I can understand those who voted for what they thought was the best for their party. I can excuse people who say they had no clue. I can excuse all of these things, but I cannot reconcile how Jesus taught us to love each other with racism. I just can’t.
I can go to church with people who think money is the most important factor in who they voted for. I can still worship with people who have differing views on a variety of political topics. I can even agree to disagree with most people. I have friends who voted all kinds of directions and I still view them as friends and people worthy of my love and friendship, but I cannot–nor will I ever be able to reconcile Christians who stand by and say nothing in the face of racism. I just can’t.
When I see Christians justifying the alt-right and Nazis in Charlottesville, when I hear people saying “Well, both sides were violent,” when I see people saying that tearing down the monuments that glorify slavery and all the abuse that went with it is a form of hate. I am saddened and surprised.
My husband and I lived in Louisiana for two years. When I first moved there I was not awake. I was fascinated by all the plantation homes in all their antebellum splendor. We toured many of them and even stayed in some which were turned into B and Bs. I began to read books about the history of the homes we toured and one day, while I was staring out the car window and thinking about the book I was reading called “The Plantation Mistress” all of the splendor faded into gloom and darkness because I realized these beautiful homes were built on not just the backs–but the lives of many slaves.
In the Bible, when the patriarchs wanted to remember what God had done for them, they often built an altar or made a huge pile of stones for a waymark so every time they passed by it, they would remember what God has done. When a child walks to school past a monument built to those who enslaved and raped her great grandmothers–that is not a historical marker, but an ongoing abuse of oppression. It is turning the goodness of God on its head and praising the evil that has enslaved thousands. When we say these monuments are history, we need to add that it is an evil part of our history and we need to always remember what happened in the past, but we should never, ever glorify it in the form of a statue because that is the equivalent of making a waymark to celebrate evil.
So I don’t know where you stand, you don’t have to agree with me, but thank you for listening. Let’s keep the conversations going because we cannot become silent about the things that matter and while all lives matter, those who have been enslaved, those who have been abused and used and those who might get shot at a traffic stop because their skin is darker, deserve for those of us who care to stand up and say, yes, black lives—the lives that were snuffed out by slavery, the lives that struggle in slavery’s wake should not ever have to see a monument glorifying their forefathers’ murderers in the public square. And Jewish lives should not have to watch a swastika marching past their businesses.
It’s is a shame so much bullying has been modeled by the current administration and so many racists added to our current cabinet that these young men marched with violence and headed to the part of town where they could do the most damage, yet they felt no need to hide behind any masks because they felt it was their freedom of speech under a president who would not speak out against them. This was further evidenced by known KKK leaders and racists who originally thanked the president for not attacking them. But hate speech is NOT free speech. One person’s right to speak up should never tear down another’s humanity. We used to have ethics about this, but it seems “the times they are a changin.”
Dark lives, brown lives, tan lives, black lives—they all matter and they matter just as much as white lives. The difference is that white lives are not in the same type of danger that the brown and black lives are experiencing, so who will stand up in the gap and say, “Thus far and no more?” May God help all of us to wake up!