Dear My Fellow Americans:
President Trump has promised to deport 11 million illegal immigrants. I think about militaries and citizens’ brigades and children wailing and families decimated and weapons drawn. I think about the impending destruction of the EPA and the dirty water and air that will spread to encompass us, city after city. Flint was just the beginning. I think about all the barely tested drugs he wants unleashed on the public. Every morning since the election, I awake to a fresh, raw sense that everything is going to be as bad as I believe, and I begin to fight it. By the end of the day, I’ve pushed it back enough to fall asleep at night, waking up at 3 am, wondering if I’ll be attacked in public simply because I’m a 19 year old black man in America. Wondering if public education will be destroyed. Wondering if we’ll be able to survive privatization of social security and Medicare. And it begins all over again.
My fighting self says do something, but my denial self says wait and see.
Wait and see – the rallying cry for decent citizens everywhere throughout history, before the crackdowns, detentions, and violations of rights or martial law. Wait and see – the blinders we wear when the abuses start. Wait and see – the mantle of disbelief worn before our neighbors are arrested, our children harassed, our jobs handed over with nepotistic abandon to the loyal. Anyone who has a sense of history knows that this is where we are headed, unless we stand up now.
The calls for reconciliation and unity are, perhaps generally, an understandable move in the right direction. If you want peace, work for Justice. Justice requires a coming to terms with the condition of the possibility for such division. The hateful campaigning, fear mongering, and discriminatory rhetoric, all of which has frighteningly given the disenfranchised a sense of empowerment to verbally, psychologically, and even physically harm women, men, and children has been the wedge that further fractured an already divided nation.
I am interested in dialogue and reconciliation and unity. But I don’t believe that such things are possible apart from honest accounting for conditions that have led to this divide. Fear is the enemy of Christian discipleship and we must not be afraid. We must not be afraid to stand with one another against injustice, to speak up when witnessing harassment or violence, or to risk the vulnerability that agape love demands of Christians. It is especially necessary that we do not remain silent ourselves, or retreat into the ghettos of silence, or become what Thomas Merton famously described as “guilty bystanders.”
Thank you for reading!