For better or worse, some personal ruminations on this weekend’s news events… What happened in Charlottesville, VA, this weekend is horrific. There is no question about that. Racism, white supremacy, neo-nazism are all evils. There can be no justification for acts or doctrines of hate or violence. Nor for a President that empowers and emboldens these hate groups. Yet, as I’ve been following the headlines and people’s responses I’ve wondered a lot about what I can do personally about this infestation that has plagued our nation for so long. Should I post a condemnation on Facebook? Part of me, in my privilege, is still in disbelief that I would actually need to state publicly how and why racism is an evil. Shouldn’t we all know that already? And does posting on Facebook really do any good? At least in my case, it’s mostly preaching to the choir. Or sign another petition? Does that actually help? Of course there are things we can do: we can speak out, not just to people who believe like us but to everyone; we can write letters to our government representatives; we can attend an anti-racism workshop; we can attend a local or even a national protest (or even start one); we can contribute to worthy causes: NAACP, SPLC, etc.; we can try to be aware of where we encounter racism in the little events of our everyday lives and not be afraid to speak up in the moment. Perhaps others can add their ideas…
Too often I take the easy route, doing nothing but sitting back and shaking my head in anger, disgust, and shame, wondering what has happened to the world I thought I grew up in. Basically stewing in my privilege as a white person because the world as I fantasize it was and should be has never existed. But as a Christian I’m also all about hope. I really think that world can exist and I think we are called to build it – a world founded in love, respect, and compassion instead of hate and fear. But it takes the courage to step out for justice and love. May God give me that courage.
Having said all that, I’m also struggling with some of the responses that people make to events like Charlottesville. Responses like “if your preacher doesn’t speak about Charlottesville this Sunday, you need to find a new church” or “if you’re not speaking out you’re part of the problem.” Both of these may (or may not) be truthful statements but they can also be distractions, coming across as shaming and self-righteous (i.e. my response is better than your response). That doesn’t mean they don’t need to be said. Sometimes they do. But I struggle with them. Maybe that’s my own guilt / shame about wondering if I do enough?
So, I have a lot of failings and insecurities when it comes to being an “activist.” But I do want to live in a world where there is peace and hope, love and compassion. And it’s partly up to me to help realize that world.