It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.It's been an extremely long time since I was able to post here—overload at work and overload at home, plus a general sadness at the direction the country is going. That quotation above from Tale of Two Cities sums it all up in a way, and the last week or so focuses the direction of the last few months more than ever.
Worst of timesWe have listened to an unrelenting flow of abuse from our most public politicians, abuse aimed at all manner of political opponents. It's become routine. When confronted about insults ("Totally dishonest" "Very low IQ" etc.), the usual response has been to either ignore the comment or to claim it was a joke. The "it was a joke" attempt is the usual one when actual violence is the topic. Nobody was laughing. It's no longer a joke to threaten people.
This week was a time when a couple of "true believers" swung into action, sending bombs and committing mass murder in a Jewish synagogue. The flow of verbal abuse from the very top of our government is having an effect, and this might be the very beginning, the tip of the iceberg.
Best of times
Matthew Shepard, who was killed twenty years ago because he was gay, was finally laid to rest in Washington National Cathedral. Once again, the Episcopal church became a very public voice speaking for tolerance, inclusion, and protection of sexual minorities. And our voice did get heard, perhaps the only positive news item in a terrible week.
How shall we live?
I don't think it's paranoid to expect continuing discrimination and violence against gay people, people of color, Jews, people from the Middle East, and many more who do not fit the cultural stereotype of "real American." Women, poor, and handicapped all will be targets. This kind of hatred and violence will not just vanish, especially because it's being encouraged from the highest levels of government. As a parish, as a denomination, and as individuals, we need to actually do something (not just post items on Facebook) to stand in the gap for these people who are being targeted.
- Vote. Don't let those who support hatred and intolerance dominate the political stage.
- Send money. Organizations that are working toward real, positive change (Bishop's Annual Appeal, ACLU, and others) need our financial support.
- Show up. Civil rights victories weren't won by people sitting at home and watching TV. It's time again to make your presence felt.
- Speak out. When hate speech is the only speech in the public realm, they are the winners.
- Reach out. People who are part of targeted minorities need to know that we are on their side.
The red door of refuge is beginning to have more than a symbolic meaning.