I have a confession.
I struggle deeply with knowing when to speak out - even on things that I feel deeply passionate about. Even as a pastor- trained to 'speak out'.
As I've reflected on this- I see that there are three main reasons I don't speak out:
When it comes down to it- my defaults are 'pleaser' and 'conflict avoider'. There are many people I love who have radically different world views, religious views and political views than I do. So too often I remain silent, even when my heart is crying out.
Sometimes it seems like the shifts in collective conversation around the most pressing social issue can leave me with whiplash. There are so many needs in the world. So many injustices. And we often move as a society from one fire to the next very quickly. My pessimism and rebellious side keep me from wanting to be a 'bandwagon jumper'. I am cautious to assure that my support for the latest 'cause' is not comparable to my search for the latest style jeans: even if that 'cause' is something that is vitally important and I feel deeply about.
After a school shooting, we are all outraged over easy access to guns, our overly violent society, and the lack of mental health awareness and support. After the latest court ruling or public slur about immigration we all speak out and name our experiences and outrage over our broken immigration laws. Through social media each week things we never spoke of before are all of a sudden our lives passion: cancer, AIDS, marriage equality, environmental change, violence against women, homelessness and poverty- you understand, I'm sure.
While even if I totally agree with the need for support for each of these important issues- I can be hesitant to publicly speak out for fear of my support being 'bandwagon support'.
The privileged place I hold in society keeps me from personally experiencing the consequences of so many of these injustices first hand- leaving me feeling unqualified to speak. My 'privilege' makes it easy for me to spend more time thinking about myself and less time thinking about others.
So those are my confessions. And here's my wondering:
In this season of Advent, as I've been spending time praying and reflecting and waiting for "the in-breaking of Christ in the world",
I wonder- What if what seems like an ebb and flow of care and concern in our public conversation- a crescendo of tweets and Facebook posts and breaking news, and grocery store conversation, and late night TV comedic truth...
What if this rise and fall of focus does not speak so much to the fickleness of our society-
but rather, what if these rising and falling cries for justice are actually the rhythm of the 'kingdom of God' pulsating and pushing and trying to burst through?
What if the cries for justice and equality, in all of its various forms, are the cries of God's justice trying to be known in the world?
With each wave- perhaps one person
has eyes to see the realities of the brokenness
has found a voice to cry out for justice
has decided to reach out and look at the statistics
has come to see their own role in the pain of another
has engaged in a conversation respectfully
has found the strength to march, to cry, to listen, to sit with one another.
After countless very visible incidences of extraordinary unspeakable injustice and inequality- people are speaking out.
The statistics around the inequity and racism in our criminal justice system are astounding:
Prison Policy Initiative
The statistics and stories of 'police on black' violence are beyond shocking:
Criminal Enforcement Inequality
The stories are especially baffling for a 'white girl' like me who has certainly been given the benefit of the doubt in the criminal system. Here are some stories to show that:
To keep up on the cutting edge thought around racial justice check out:
As I watch and listen and stand in solidarity as people are marching, rioting, singing songs for liberation, expressing anger, and crying in heartbreak,
What if this is God calling out from those most marginalized, maligned and oppressed? What if this is God calling from within our communities and our societies and our systems-
trying to enter the world- trying to be born-So that all might experience life, equality, fullness, justice, freedom and healing?
How does this reality allow my fear of speaking out fall away? How does this reality shape my pessimistic view of our public conversations? How does this call me to see and name the privilege that blocks my vision?
This morning as I watch and listen to those crying for their black sons, as I see images of college students 'dying in' to make visible the injustice of our systems, I can't help but see the face of God coming like a tidal wave, crying out so that life, healing, equality and justice may also be made visible in this world.
And I feel a new sense of hope- because though this moment may pass without the full justice we all want, and though the collective conversation may soon shift to the next 'cause'--
I trust that the rhythm of God is beating. I trust that people are listening. And with each wave of community outcry, the 'kingdom of God' may be little bit more 'on Earth as it is in Heaven.'
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr