We live in horrifying times. Usually, I try to make commentary that’s upbeat and hopeful, but friends, I find that more difficult lately. As I hear the rumble of fireworks being blown up in celebration of America, I am just sad this year. So, because my column runs on a Sunday, I’ll use these 564 words to preach a little bit.
The abject cruelty our government is inflicting on refugees at our southern border is escalating in such a manner that we can no longer avert our eyes. And yet, aren’t we?
The detachment with which we take in images of the dead lying face down in the Rio Grande, or snot-caked toddlers jailed like sardines with no idea where their parents are takes my breath away. I’m stricken with my inability to do anything and am devastated at the amount of callousness, acceptance and excuses I see coming from so many of my Christian brothers and sisters.
We are all hypocrites, indeed. Myself probably more so than many. But surely, even the best and worst behaved believers can agree that what is being done in our name as Americans is disgusting, immoral and indefensible.
I’ve thought a lot about Dietrich Bonhoeffer this week. Bonhoeffer was a German Christian pastor/theologian and anti-Nazi dissident who was murdered at the Flossenburg concentration camp in 1945 just two weeks before it was liberated by U.S. soldiers.
“Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power,” wrote Bonhoeffer. “Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.”
Those decades-old words are prophetic today. In the pursuit of power and influence, too many good people have traded the truth for a lie. We would prefer everyone to just be polite and keep moving about our business like all is well, because after all— the economy is BOOMING! But silence in the face of evil, wrote Bonhoeffer, is evil itself.
Pearl-clutching over politeness and quiet thoughts and prayers are not what is called for right now. I grant there’s a lot of complicated theology out there, but when it comes to the vulnerable, the mandate is clear.
We Christians proclaim to serve a God who talks continually about justice for the foreigner, the orphan and the widow. We are to love our neighbor as ourself; we are to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. These are more than platitudes framed as wall decor down at the Hobby Lobby.
Because I’m pretty outspoken and unafraid to discuss uncomfortable topics, I have lost friends over the last several years. Some I have cried over, a few not so much. However, speaking out about public policies that target, traumatize and destroy families and children is a hill worth dying on.
But what can one middle-aged woman in Muskogee, Oklahoma, do in the face of such overwhelming ambivalence? I’m open to suggestions and opportunities. Meanwhile, I am recommitting to calling my elected officials regularly, and I’m going to give to organizations whose work reflects Proverbs 31:8: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
And I’ll also use this platform to occasionally talk about things that make us uncomfortable.
. . .
We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer