I’ve been quite purposefully staying away from this blog for a minute, Reader, while I calmed down about the recent American elections. I realized it wouldn’t do anyone any good for me to get on here and swear a blue streak, although I must admit that’s what I wanted to do. I’m mad at conservatives who decided supposed economic security was worth selling the safety of various groups; I’m mad at liberals who can’t seem to hear their own narrow-mindedness while yelling at others for theirs; I’m super, super mad at the fools who didn’t vote at all. And on top of that I’m utterly heartbroken and ashamed that my country is so broken that a misogynistic asshat is going to be the president.
Right, so as you can see I didn’t get all of my angry out. And I don’t actually plan to; I think I need angry right now, not in the sense of the “rah burn shit down” kind of rage but in the “power music to change the world” kind of focus. Righteous anger—that’s right, righteous, with all the forceful overtones that carries—is something that we need to redefine and reclaim. I agree with the idea that this is the best thing to happen for the Church because it is so easy to align ourselves with the ideals of this world and that ain’t it. The Kingdom of God is brought with a sword, not in the Crusader sense of hacking people apart but in the sense of refusing to stand by and allow injustice simply so we don’t have to inconvenience ourselves.
We Christians are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. By Jesus. And that verse has been used so often and we have gotten so used to the cross that we think of it—that I think of it—as oh, man, I have to be nice to people at Thanksgiving.
No. Christianity is not about nice. Crosses are not about nice. When Jesus was crucified, it was the most shameful and exposed form of death the Roman Empire could find for those it deemed counter-cultural and dangerous. It was a slow death in which people’s own body weight killed them as they bled out, naked in front of whoever decided to come watch. It was a statement that robbed the dying of anything even resembling dignity and made sure they had plenty of time to mull over the fact that the Empire had won.
Let me be clear—I am not advocating that people overthrow the Trump government any more than Jesus suggested His people overthrow Rome. (His refusal to do so, in point of fact, was part of what endangered Him.) Nor am I saying that people should just shoulder whatever comes as their own cross, their own burden. I’m saying that we are called for just such a time as this every bit as much as Esther to risk ourselves for the safety and well-being of others. If literally all that you can do is wear a safety pin and be prepared for whatever comes with that, that is your cross; bear it. But do not build the cross of wearing the pin and then walk away when people call you on it, refusing to carry the burden of its realities.
Beyond that, get involved. Research the things your friends say, whether you agree with them or not; do not blindly agree because something fuels your anger or hurt or fear. Keep an eye on what is going on in your state legislature, your town councils, the federal congress. Call offices, take surveys, send emails. Make your voice heard by the people who can effect change on the topics that most concern you. I don’t mean that you should make of yourself a 24-hour governmental watchdog (exhausted people are unhelpful to themselves and their movements, so know your own limits), but I do mean that your reaction—and mine—to the new administration must run deeper than Facebook comments and blog posts.
Remind yourself that there is an outside world. Yes, there is much to be said about the election fallout, but Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have drinkable water. East Tennessee is currently on fire. Syria is still being torn to shreds by war, part of which is the fault of us, of America. Brazil is still grappling with economic insecurity as its government shifts unsteadily. Great Britain is still figuring out how to deal with the fallout of Brexit. Boco Haram is still wreaking havoc in Nigeria. America is not the only nation with problems, nor is the election America’s only problem. Remember that we, as Christ’s hands and feet, are needed in more than just Washington, D.C.
And start praying right now, Reader, as to what is important to you about what America is. A lot of promises were made on the campaign trail that shake down the dignity of the very citizens the American government is supposed to protect. So fight for what you believe, speak out for that which is important to you, but know yourself: are we willing to stand for those who cannot? Are we willing to speak for the voiceless? Are we willing to bear the crosses of seeking justice and extending mercy? I have to pray my own prayers of reflection. Am I willing to carry the cross of feeding the hungry, loving the leper, eating with tax collectors, healing the sick? Am I willing to challenge legislation and to speak against communication that endangers or dismisses those who are female, who are LGBT, who are of color, who are refugees, who are immigrants, who are poor, who are survivors of sexual assault, who are human? I don’t have to agree or support; I have to protect. My safety cannot be more important than another’s.
You alone can’t fix the world, so please don’t try to engage every injustice and burn yourself out totally. But do see the places around you where Christ beckons, come, pick up your cross.
May His yoke be easy.
Because this won’t be.
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Israel,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;
because they sell the righteous for silver,
and the needy for a pair of shoes—
they that trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth,
and turn aside the way of the afflicted[.]” (Amos 2:6-7b, RSV)