The last couple months have been uncertain and panic-ridden, then the last couple weeks added icing to the chaos cake. The contentious issues facing us are causing extreme polarization. I wonder how we can strike some balances and truly listen to people’s different concerns while still being bold, loving defenders of truth and justice.
Opinions vary greatly on the pandemic and social distancing. As I pointed out in my post on the double-edged sword of the internet, theories range from “this is an over-hyped political hoax” to “the worst of the pandemic is yet to come.” For the better and the worse, people don’t believe “the media” anymore. If mainstream sources are unreliable, only fringe sources and/or people’s own judgement (frequently based on hot air) can be trusted. I can’t contribute an educated viewpoint since I’m not qualified in medicine, business, sociology, etc. But there are several factors we must weigh carefully–preserving public safety and “flattening the curve,” the consequences of shutting down businesses, the mental/social ramifications of prolonged isolation, etc.
Black Lives Matter
People’s perceptions also vary on the backlash from George Floyd’s murder. I was glad to see almost everyone–race, age, gender, and political leaning aside–stand with George Floyd and demand justice for his murder. Many have participated in peaceful protests seeking understanding and compassion for the black community and black lives. As the sun sets, those protests morph into riots. I have pondered the rhetoric and the arguments from different viewpoints. Some unequivocally condemn looting as a criminal act; some compare looting to the Boston Tea Party and Nat Turner’s Rebellion; some insist that most cops are good people; some provide evidence that cops are instigating violence at protests.
In both cases–Coronavirus and BLM–there is no room for nuance. Is this even surprising, given the state of our politics? Every single social issue is arbitrarily deemed partisan. I digress…
Do you wear a mask? You’re just a sheep.
Do you NOT wear a mask? You’re an inconsiderate idiot.
Do you think we should’ve kept businesses closed longer? You don’t care about people’s livelihoods.
Are you visiting the beach or eating in a restaurant? You’re cavalier and ignorant.
Do you think looting is wrong? You’re privileged.
Do you think looting is a valid form of protest? You’re insane.
Do you think all cops are bad? You’re narrow-minded and unfair.
Do you NOT think all cops are bad? Again…you’re just a sheep! Open your eyes, man!
My eyes are wide open. I wish I could shut them sometimes; then again, I know the God of the Bible does not call me to complacency. All the pain adds a heaviness to my spirit. A lot of things do, actually. Like the fact that people who have a relationship with the same God as me think I’m doomed to hell for preaching a sermon as a woman. And married Christians who treat their spouses with so little grace and respect that I cringe in their presence. And all those in the world suffering from anguish, abuse, starvation, despair, persecution, etc. every single day. Just to name a few. At times like these, I’m grateful the Holy Spirit intercedes in my prayers, enunciating those groans in my spirit, casting my heart cries on the God of peace.
There is no easy answer to these problems; this post can’t have a tidy moral. But I am realizing a fruit of the Spirit we all need more of–gentleness. I need more gentleness–the strong, wise, Godly version anyway–to process the information, the viewpoints, the endless articles and newscasts, the disturbing videos. I need more gentleness to hear those who worry about their health along with those who worry about paying their bills. I need more gentleness to listen to and believe stories of racial injustice. I need more gentleness to understand the devastating toll looting can take on small business owners. I need more gentleness to unravel how poverty and racism intersect to destroy communities.
However, I also have a balance to strike between gentleness and boldness. I don’t want to be paralyzed into silence; I must weigh everything thoughtfully, but I’m just a tree with no fruit if I don’t stand with truth and justice. Dr. MLK Jr. wrote of the “white moderate,” who values order above justice. The God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament demand justice and condemn oppression (along with idolatry, greed, materialism, and vanity–read the prophets and the gospels if you don’t believe me). May God guide me in striking all these balances. Lord, open my eyes, my ears, and my heart.
Thanks for reading! Two cents welcome, but please be GENTLE. I feel nervous when I post anything remotely controversial or potentially alienating, especially since Christians are called to the ministry of reconciliation. Then again, my feeling hesitant to call Christians into partnership with Jesus speaks volumes on how biblical messages have been distorted and ignored. Reconciliation requires addressing the complex, not-so-pretty topics; reconciliation means we must care enough to speak and act.
Not to worry–I’ll presumably go back to normal next week. 😉
P.S. #WearTheDangMask (might as well be safe) & #BlackLivesMatter (God’s heart hurts when His children hurt; protests in all 50 states and 18 countries reveal a world of pain)