Yesterday I was at a gathering of ‘good Christian folk’ who all seemed to have good intentions. They would say they were loving and faithful. They were the neighbors who live down the street with such different lives from mine, uncomplicated by any urgency for justice because they don’t live outside of its possibilities, and are privileged in ways they can’t comprehend or acknowledge. They were ‘nice’. My friend reminds me that ‘nice’ comes from two Latin words, ‘ne scion’, meaning ‘to not know’.
But that wasn’t the point. Some would tell me I shouldn’t have been talking politics. Unfortunately, that thinking ends up perpetuating the myth that we can’t have the important conversations and that we can’t work through our disagreements. We have fostered generations of folks who cannot or will not listen to one another. Even within their own families.
I broke that taboo yesterday and shared my fears about our current political situation. As a student of history I talked about the parallels between some of what we are seeing today and the advent of Nazi Germany. The response was, and I quote, “All politicians do it, they are all alike.”
This is where my spirit is broken: she could not see any difference between the evil of children in cages, the rise of rampant racism, the control of women’s bodies and autonomy, violence against members of the LGBTQ community, and common corruption. Has Trump and the Freedom Caucus (sic) so normalized abhorrent behavior that it is seen as acceptable political discourse? How can I not challenge the nice, Christian lady who is blind to her privilege?
I am sad and frightened and when I meet people who are nice and blind, I struggle. How can we move forward? Where is the hope? I cannot stay in this place, though it is important for us to live with the sadness or we deny and belittle the current reality. What we cannot do, what we must not do, is despair. Despair kills our ability to act and destroys our ability to hope.
We cannot live without hope. We can be broken, tired, grieving, perplexed, and overwhelmed, but our souls shrivel and die when there is no hope. Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann once said, “Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion.”
To my fellow broken spirits: keep seeking hope. Refuse to accept the ‘reading of reality’ of the majority – even the ‘nice and blind’ majority. We must keep our eyes open to what is in front of us and name it for what it is. Yesterday I said out loud to the ‘nice’ lady that there is a difference between corruption and evil.
Seek hope not as a light and airy feeling, but as the quiver in your voice when naming and challenging evil. Hope is not polite. It is grieving, broken people refusing to accept that we cannot be better than this. So stand, or kneel beneath the weight of the evil perpetuated in our names, and refuse to be blinded by whatever privilege you carry. Keep your eyes open and do not normalize the current moment. That is the hope we must carry into the world.