The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that over 200 incidents of election-related violence have occurred since November 8th. Actually, that report was 3 days ago and so the numbers are higher now. Some are saying that these incidents are a result of a backlog of pent-up hate and anger which can now be unleashed because the President-elect himself has spoken such words. Others are saying that political correctness is no longer expected or required.
In my own post-election travels I have heard both strangers and friends make comments that leave me speechless. They range from the grossly misinformed (The man who made my omelet in a hotel restaurant: “I am a Democrat but I voted for Trump because Obama poisoned the water in Flint” ) to the utterly disappointing (A friend/former friend?: “People need a sense of humor. Kids are yelling ‘Build that wall’ at immigrant classmates to be funny.”
It’s not funny. And I can no longer afford to be speechless.
Some people are wearing safety pins to identify themselves as allies of the vulnerable. But we need to do more than wear symbols. We need to be symbols.
I love this story about the neighbors in Nashville who wrote welcoming words in chalk on the sidewalk in front of a mosque. These kinds of actions involve a little more effort and intentionality than wearing a pin. (Although if you are finding it empowering to wear the safety pin, do it.)
Take homemade cookies to your local mosque, Planned Parenthood office, immigration office, LGBTQ community center and then ask them what they need. And then offer that thing. They might need money. They might need volunteers. They might need letters written. Or maybe they just need to know that people are standing with them.
We can’t stay safe in our own little worlds anymore. If you are a follower of Jesus – or if you simply admire the teachings of Jesus – be like Jesus. He befriended a Syro-Phoenician woman. He traveled through Samaria. He touched lepers. And he did all these things to display love, not political correctness.
How can we build a store house of love? Imagine unleashing that. But it doesn’t happen without preparation:
- We need to educate ourselves on everything from the Biblical commandments to love our enemies to anti-racism training.
- We need to Open. Our. Eyes. Who is in the room? Who is not in the room and why?
- Pay attention to what we hear. And don’t let hate speech go unaddressed (address it by engaging the attacked not the attacker.)
- Take de-escalation training. (see above)
- Try to see each other with the eyes of Christ. It’s really hard.
The one good thing about this election if we are fearful and anxious about the results is that we can no longer be idle. It’s time to ratchet up our capacity to serve the vulnerable and love even our enemies.
Note: I am really sad and not ready to love my enemies quite yet. This post is a sermon to myself.