A note about the border…

Stephen Colbert makes such a beautiful and convicting point in this clip. How unfortunate that a late-night talk show host is acting as our voice of conscience here, but here you have it…

I am not an expert of, well, anything. I am a simple small town girl, a citizen of the US who is appalled by the things that are happening in my name at our southern border.

I say that to say this is not a treatise on the merits of our immigration policy, or policies surrounding those who flee to our borders seeking asylum. To argue from that vantage point would be foolish on my part. I know enough about the process to know that those who present themselves at our border seeking political asylum have not in the past been immediately processed as criminals and separated from their children. This has not been our practice under any other administration. Characterizing asylum seekers as “criminals” is wrong. To assume that every person who approaches our border asking for help is a criminal is atrocious. Separating children – including nursing infants! – from their parents is barbarous and cruel to an extreme.

And common sense would tell you that a person seeking to illegally cross our border would not present themselves to any authority, but would find another means of entry, away from the watchful eyes of the government. Targeting this population, which is made up of mainly women and children, is just inhumane. I cannot countenance any other argument.

And most assuredly cannot countenance the use of the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 13 to justify this action. I nearly came out of my skin when I listened to these words spilling out of AG Sessions’ mouth yesterday. A cherry-picked verse that did not account for the circumstances into which Paul was writing or the context of that verse to the rest of the chapter. It was not lost on me that this same passage was used to justify slavery not so long ago in this country, a fact that directly affects me and mine as a Black woman. To say I was triggered wouldn’t explain the half of it. But my trigger was not pulled exclusively or even primarily because of my ethnicity.

My allegiance to Christ and His Gospel bears down on me with even greater force than my ethnicity ever will. It is NOT biblically justifiable to destroy families to uphold a broken, flawed, and deeply discriminatory immigration policy. I am not even talking about the fact that all of these men, women, and children being detained at our border are Spanish-speaking and Hispanic. Let’s lay aside the race card here and speak strictly on the grounds of common humanity. The fact that, as a Christian, I believe that the Word teaches that we are all created in His image, after His likeness, to reflect His glory. There is no distinction.

Romans 13 calls for us to submit to governing authorities and do what is right. The people seeking asylum are following the rules our government set forth long ago; they are not breaking the law. As such, this argument is meaningless to what is now happening. The administration has capriciously decided not to honor the rules and laws our government have set forth for those seeking to come here for protection. There is no law governing what our government is doing.

But aside from these things, Paul is speaking to Christians living under a very different form of government than we have here in America. And he is speaking to Christians and how they ought to respond to these authorities. His point was not to give justification to Rome for their persecution of Christians and their authoritarian empire; his point was to teach Christians how to live in this setting. Just prior to this chapter, Paul goes into great detail in Chapter 12 about how we ought to live in light of our faith and in view of the great mercy and grace showered upon us by our Lord. Chapter 13 is a continuation of this discussion. Ultimately, we can submit to this authority regardless of what is done to us because it is the Lord’s to avenge, not ours. The Lord’s justice is ultimate good and ultimately just.

But destroying families and traumatizing children to make a point is not a Christian response, and it is an atrocity to use the Bible to justify it.

And lest you think this is a blind screed against the Trump administration, the Obama administration was dinged for a similar practice in 2015 and was ordered to stop (see here for details). The only difference was that they did not separate mothers and children. But their actions were determined illegal then, and these should be even more so for the sheer inhumanity of this added trauma.

That’s all I have to say…for now.

Random thoughts on “Thoughts and Prayers”…

Another tragedy is unfolding in a high school in America, this time in Santa Fe, Texas, where a gunman opened fire on an art class. At least 8 people are dead and 6 wounded, including the Resource Officer on duty at the time.

I just watched an interview with a student who was in the building at the time of the shooting. The reporter asked her if there was any point during the ordeal where she questioned whether it was really happening; she emphatically shook her head “no”. He asked, “Why not”. Her response cut my heart to pieces: “It’s happening everywhere. I always knew it would eventually happen here.”

Asking our government officials to pass laws that help curb the number and power of guns on the street is not the same thing as advocating for a complete reversal of the Second Amendment. This is a false flag, a distraction from having a truly honest, gut-checking conversation about guns in our country. I personally wouldn’t own a gun, but I would not tell my neighbor he or she cannot. But there are things that we can do to help stem this tide that land in between a free-for-all and an all-out ban. This is a false choice and should be rejected for the nonsense that it is.

Lamenting the violence that is occurring on a regular basis in our school and communities is not the same thing as believing that it is completely on the government to fix everything and parents and teachers and fellow neighbors have no role to play. Again – false flag. What’s up with the zero-sum game we’re playing here? Why does it have to be either/or of two extreme choices? Where did the wisdom of the middle road go? Can’t this be a “both/and” situation where the law and the people come together and form a collective solution?

To add to this: advocating for stricter laws, even something as limited as universal background checks do not make you a Pollyanna that thinks laws will stop all gun violence. Laws against theft and murder don’t stop all crimes – so we should dispense with these laws as well?

Thoughts and prayers…thoughts and prayers. Yes, I think; and I most definitely pray. But John stated in his first epistle the following:  “If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer[i] in need but withholds compassion from him—how does God’s love reside in him?” (1 John 3:17). And James reminds us: Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. (James 2:18b). Neither author is advocating for works-righteousness; they are affirming what Jesus speaks about when He refers to the “least of these”.

I am a private citizen with little real political power. I speak my mind; I vote; I write my elected officials; I try to love the children in my sphere as best I can. I do what is within my limitations and abilities to do. And yes, I pray. I pray all the time. I ask God to move. But we are required to do something too. We are required to MOVE too, not just think and pray. Constantly listening to men and women who are in positions where they could make a difference simply say they are “thinking and praying” when each new tragedy happens is frustrating. Eventually, those words are meaningless. And then they get the point of inciting anger and rage in people who just don’t get what all the thinking is praying is about if it is not about helping your fellow citizens find a solution to a very real problem.

You may not agree with me; that’s fine. But why do our children bear the brunt of this insanity? Why does it seem that we care more about our guns than our children?

I don’t understand. I just don’t. Lord, have mercy on us, I pray.

More later; until then, grace and peace…

What are we remembering?

So this is the deal…I can’t not comment about what happened in Charlottesville this past weekend. I’ve held off on saying much because my reaction to what I witnessed on TV, the commentary from Trump, and the barrage of comments on both sides would have resulted in a screed, and much of that screed would not have been very Christlike. I don’t want to contribute to that. But I do have a lot to say.

The other day my cousin posted an awesome response on his Facebook page. His particular focus was on Trump’s equivocation of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Here is what he said:

“If we’re talking about a founding father, i.e., George Washington, yes he was a slave owner, as were most of his contemporaries. He probably didn’t believe slaves should be free or equal. However, he fought another nation for the freedom to create this nation. Because of the government he established our society was able to mature to the point that people of good [will] of all races will have come to where we are today… The distinction I make is that Lee fought to break the union Washington helped fight for and found. Lee fought to further domestic oppression based on race. I get that he was a central figure in the civil war. [He fought on] the side that wanted to preserve a way of life that existed, in part, based on subjugation of non-white people based on race.

The thing [Trump] misses is that despite what he may want to believe, we have evolved as a society. What was acceptable in Washington’s time was divisive in Lee’s time. Today, the idea that we could do that to each other or subscribe to those beliefs is un-American.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself…but I will add to it.

I cannot, in good conscience, be anything but supportive of removing monuments that were erected in public spaces to memorialize or venerate leaders of the Confederacy. The Confederacy came into existence because of one issue: slavery. Yes, there were other issues, but they all coalesced around the issue of slavery and states’ rights to continue that practice (to view the original documents related to the formation of the Confederation, visit this link; this link is also a good resource for source documentation on the Civil War).

So what are we really memorializing? How are leaders who fought to break apart the union considered patriots? I do not doubt the sincerity of their beliefs that what they were doing was right; but as my cousin rightly pointed out, we have evolved as a society. We should be able to look back on this era of our history and see the error of these beliefs, not to celebrate them, but to learn from them.

What I find so interesting is that the monuments we speak of were not erected immediately after the Civil War. They were erected in the climate of the post-Reconstruction South, when Jim Crow laws were being formed and rights that had been won during Reconstruction were being taken away from Black people. Their existence was twofold: On the one hand, they were built at a time when Civil War veterans were beginning to age and die. They acted as a memorial to them, many of them erected by family members of fallen soldiers.

But, unfortunately, there was also another purpose. In particular, statues of Confederate leaders acted as a symbol, a message, of the true desire of the Jim Crow South to keep Blacks “in our place”. Their presence, especially in places like county and state courthouses, communicated a message of White supremacy and control. This second purpose is not divorced from their presence, and is the main reason they are a flashpoint of division along racial lines.

A  side note: The Confederate flag returned to prominence during the Civil Rights era, and again was a symbol of racism and oppression against the advance of the Civil Rights cause.

This is my primary point: Removing these monuments is not an erasure of history. In fact, I prefer that these statues not be destroyed so much as relocated. They belong in a museum, as a testament to history. Those monuments that were erected to memorialize to fallen soldiers by their families should also pose no real problem or threat, and perhaps a distinction should be made as we discuss the various monuments and statues in question.

As I think through this issue in my mind I have to ask the question: What history are we remembering here? More importantly, I think the question we must all ask ourselves as we consider this is: Are we remembering history aright? As it pertains specifically to monuments that honor the leaders of the Confederacy: If theses monuments obscure the painful reality of what the Civil War was about, they do not properly represent that history. If they serve to idealize an era that was brutal and painful, and that celebrated a belief that is completely and utterly antithetical to not only what our country is supposed to be about, but most importantly to the truth of Scripture and the message of Christ, then they need to be removed. If they venerate someone who led a fight to dismantle our country for the purpose of maintaining an institution that subjugated and dehumanized a race of people – of whom I am descended – then I cannot support their continued existence in public spaces.

As long as we allow these symbols of our past to remain and be celebrated, without being fully truthful about all facets of that past, we will not heal. The wound of race was inflicted on us upon our founding. We removed a race of people who were already here, and then took yet another from their homes and countries on another continent to build up this land and this country. This is the foundation upon which America was built. We cannot escape that; we must face it and realize that we are simply reaping what we have sown. God has indeed blessed America; but that does not mean He will not call us to account for our wrongdoing.

We cannot point the finger at the indigenous people who were here – and still are here, even if we don’t acknowledge their existence – and blame them. We can’t even blame the African people who helped sell off their own. The slave trade was lucrative for them because we participated in it. Our guilt is as great as theirs. We cannot project it all onto them, for it does not negate the reality of we did.

And I say “we” because I am an American citizen. I may have some general idea of where my family came from in Africa, but I have no tangible connection to it, no names, no understanding of custom. And my ethnic makeup is “mixed” in purely technical terms. I have European blood in my family history too, so where then shall I be placed? What would I “return” to? This is my country. And I care about its future. We must let go of an idealized version of our past in order to see that future.

This is not a theoretical issue for me. The people who marched in Charlottesville have a particular goal in mind: To advance and enact their belief of White superiority over every other nation and race of people. They are not “nice people”; they do not wish anything but harm to people like me. They were chanting “White Power” and “Jews will not replace us” as they marched. Any well-meaning person who sincerely wanted to protest the removal of the Lee statue would have left as soon as they heard these things and saw Nazi salutes flying all around them. There is nothing good or well-meaning about what this movement is about.

You may wish that I “get over” slavery, or “get over race”. But the clinging to and celebration of symbols of an era that was defined by it betrays the fact that we as a country have not yet gotten over it. For all the things the Confederacy may or may not have stood for, one thing it most certainly stood for was the continuation of a brutal, dehumanizing institution. I cannot celebrate it or its leaders. We should remember them, but I firmly believe America should not celebrate them either.

For more information, please check out the following:

Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy

National Geographic: Why the U.S. Capitol Still Hosts Confederate Monuments

How Charlottesville Looks From Germany

Vice News – Charlottesville: Race and Terror – WARNING: This video contains adult language and disturbing imagery. Please mentally and spiritually prepare yourself before watching.

 

LA92: A must-see documentary…

I don’t know if it was the wisest thing to watch given my mood on Friday, but last night I watched National Geographic’s documentary on the LA riots of 1992. It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years, most painfully because we are in a place where I believe it would not take much for us to return to see this happen yet again.

The most striking part of the documentary was the juxtaposition of the riots of 1992 to the Watts Riots of 1965. Both were sparked by clashes between LAPD and the Black community, issues with police brutality, and the city’s tone-deaf response to these issues. What made the Rodney King incident different was that his March 1991 beating at the hands of four white police officers was recorded. The four officers were actually charged for the incident, but were later acquitted of all charges. Their acquittal on April 29, 1992 was the spark that lit the match of unrest and anger.

Another thing the documentary brought out was the compounding of frustrations that made the verdicts even more painful. In the same month that King was beaten by the officers, a Korean convenience store owner shot and killed a 15-year-old girl named Latasha Harlins as she walked out of the store after a dispute over orange juice. This also was videotaped. Harlins can be seen walking to the counter with orange juice and money in hand. An argument ensued, with the store owner, Soon Ja Du grabbing for Harlins’ backpack. Du believed Harlins was trying to steal the orange juice, despite the presence of money in the girl’s hands. The two argued, and Harlins turned around to leave the store, money in hand and without orange juice. Du threw a stool at her and then grabbed her gun and shot Harlins in the back of the head.

Du was found guilty of manslaughter, but received a sentence of 5 years probation and 400 hours of community service for the crime. In her ruling, judge Joyce Karlin cited her belief that Du was unlikely to be a repeat offender as part of her reasoning for the sentence, saying that it was not at time for “revenge but for healing”. This was not sufficient for the Harlins family or the community and was seen as an appalling act of injustice and devaluing of the life of a Black teenager.

In essence, this verdict reinforced their belief that Black life meant nothing to the criminal justice system, therefore was deemed not worth defending. While revenge was not on the minds of most, justice most certainly was; and probation for the senseless death of a teenager did not feel like justice. As one person who was interviewed stated: “It is not racism that a Korean woman shot Latasha; it is racism that the justice system let her get away with it.” Tensions were high in the community as a result, and this is the atmosphere into which the King verdict was released. Like open flame to natural gas, it exploded on that fateful day.

Watching the documentary was hard. There was no commentary; it consisted completely of original footage from that time. In piecing together the story from the perspective of the police, the courts, city officials, state and federal government, and the news media, the producers excelled in portraying the build up of tension that led to the violent outbreak. The actions of news outlets seeking to bring the reality into the homes of Americans made what some would call crazy decisions as they covered the story, risking their lives to record the drama unfolding. One of the most dramatic scenes for me was a shootout in Koreatown, as Korean business owners armed themselves to protect their businesses from looters. With shots being fired all around them, you can hear the newscaster shout “Someone has been shot in that car? I think we need to get out of here.”  The footage is raw and graphic, the anger and frustration and pain palpable. The senselessness of it all clear and poignant.

Rioting is a phenomenon I will never fully understand. I cannot condone it, but I can see and feel the pain and frustration that brings it to life. The feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. When you have nothing to lose, you can come to a point where you cease to care. When you have turned to the one place where you think you can find relief, and it lets you down, you feel as if you have nothing left to do. The anger and fury demand an outlet, and violence becomes the only option that seems available. It will get the attention of those who have refused to listen, those who have shown indifference to your pain, those who have even derided and demeaned you for those things that are out of your control.

But the rioting only causes those who were innocent to suffer, to lose. It brings attention, but not necessarily the kind that will bring lasting, tangible, real results that will make things better. And in the end, all lose, as the community where people must now live is left in disarray and devastation. Even more devastating than the loss of property and livelihood is the loss of life, and the reality that law enforcement now has tangible justification for heavy-handed tactics to tamp down crime, . And the vicious cycle continues on…

In the aftermath of the riots, over 1,000 structures were damaged or destroyed by looting and/or fire. Whole city blocks were reduced to smoldering rubble. South LA and Koreatown were the hardest hit, but fires were also set in areas like Hollywood. More than 60 people died during the riots, most of them Black and Latino. More than 2,000 people were injured. The cost of the damage has been estimated at over $1 billion.

The LA Riots of 1992 lasted for five days.

In many ways, I don’t believe we have gotten over the LA Riots. As I watched the documentary, I felt a tremble in my soul, as if to say, this can and will happen again. Comparing the Watts Riots of ’65 with the LA Riots of ’92, the same spark started the flame, the same frustrations mounted and were ignited with a single “final straw incident”, and the outcome was the same. People died and property was destroyed. Community leaders came together in the aftermath to clean up and call for peace and unity. City officials made promises to do better and address legitimate issues. But as time wore on and the memory faded, status quo returned, frustrations began to mount anew, as one incident piled on top of another with no resolution in sight until critical mass was reached. And we sit in this place now, walking ever closer to the edge of a large precipice that will plunge us into chaos yet again.

In his address to the nation, then President George H.W. Bush appealed to the rule of law, stating that we must allow the system to do its “slow work of justice”, even when we disagree with it. He denounced the rioting without acknowledging the underlying injustices that lead to such frustration and rage. We have waited for the “slow work of justice” – but in this case, it was the justice system that failed the people. It was the justice system that failed Latasha Harlins’ family. It was the justice system that the people did not trust. And it is the justice system that we still cannot trust. How then, shall we wait for it to “work”?

Tears streamed down my face as I watched last night. As if to add insult to injury, I watched a second time, and wept even louder. I am not a prophet, but I cannot shake the feeling that this will happen again. And who knows how it will turn out this time given who we have in the White House and at the helm of our Justice Department.

So much more to be said, but no time right now. More to come…

Grace and peace…

What am I forgetting…

During my second year in seminary, I participated in a trip called a “Sankofa journey”. The word “Sankofa” is a word from the Kwi language of Ghana and translates to “go back and get it”. There is a proverb that uses this word that says, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten” (Wikipedia).

In the spirit of this proverb, a Sankofa journey is a walk through history, a discovery or rediscovery of a forgotten past. For us, that meant traveling to important places in the story of the Civil Rights Movement. We started at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, site of the Civil Rights Museum, and the place where Martin Luther King was murdered. We then traveled to Birmingham and worshiped at the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four little girls were murdered in a bombing; we walked through the park where attack dogs and fire hoses were unleashed on young people marching for the right to cross the street into the all-White business district. We spoke to one of the women who marched that day, and learned why Birmingham’s nickname was “Bombingham”. From there we traveled to Selma and then to Georgia before journeying back home.

For me, the most profound moment of our trip was when we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The bridge is a huge arch, and as we made it to the top of the arch and looked down, I could imagine in my mind’s eye the imposing line of police officers mounted on their horses, billy clubs in hand, defying the marchers to continue their trek to Montgomery. They were marching for the right to vote, and the officers were tasked with stopping them. In one breathless moment, they stood, protesters and law enforcement, face to face. No words were spoken in that moment. And then it happened. John Lewis was one of the marchers in the front of the crowd, and as they took their first steps over the county line, the officers charged forward, pursuing the marchers back over the bridge, beating and tear gassing them.

None of these marchers were armed. They were not violent. They did not fight back or resist. They simply wanted the rights of full citizens of this country. And they were beaten for it. I cried that day as I walked. I cry now as I write this post.

Many people would say that we need to forget the past. That the reason we can’t move on is because we refuse to forget. I would disagree; I would say it is because we refuse to remember.

The history of my family is the history of slavery; of Reconstruction; of Jim Crow; of lynching; of Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. It is not for pity that I remember, but for strength. It is a reminder that what I am today, who I am today is due in large part to the very real suffering, strength, vision, and courage of those who came before me. It would be a dishonor to their sacrifice to forget.

I do not remember to make people feel guilty.

I remember because it encourages me to go forward. It teaches me lessons to take down the road with me. I cannot compartmentalize my life to edit these things out. I’m a “what you see is what you get” kind of girl. I am not ashamed of my heritage; and I am not fearful of my future. This is the life story I have been given by my Father in Heaven. I want to use it for His glory. And to do that, I must be real about it.

On this day, I choose to remember. I choose to go back for what I have forgotten, so I can press on with greater wisdom toward what is ahead.

Because freedom is never free.

What am I trying to win?

Today I read the following on Beth Moore’s Facebook page:

bmoore-quote

This hit me for a number of reasons:

I am a news junkie, probably because my first career choice was to be a journalist. And…because I’m nosy. Mostly because I’m nosy; but perhaps that’s why I wanted to be a journalist, so I could get paid to be nosy!

Anyway, I still have that natural impulse, and pay close attention to news media. It is also my natural impulse to share what I’m learning, not just because I am a journalist at heart, but because I am also a teacher at heart. The process of learning is not fully realized for me until I’m able to share what I’ve learned with others. When these two impulses are married with the speed of social media, I find myself inserting my foot in mouth, or “oversharing”, which is my term for sharing the information with my unsolicited opinion blended into the mix. It’s easy to do, and hard to control when you are tweeting or sharing at the speed of light. I find this especially hard to maintain and control on Twitter.

I have moments when I do realize what I’m doing and scale back – and then some new outrage occurs and I’m back to my old habits. “Old habits die hard” is a cliché because it is so annoyingly true!

So these are my current thoughts about this:

I can’t say I will never post another political post again. That is a set-up for failure for sure. But I do want to heed Beth’s warning here and consider the speed and volume of my posts. And by volume I mean, the outrage meter, if you will. There are some pretty yucky things going on right now, but the level of drama and the sheer volume of cyber-ink that is spilled over some of this stuff is a distraction from what’s truly important. If we are outraged by everything, is there a point at which nothing is truly outrageous anymore? Would that make it difficult to spot the real stuff, the truly outrageous stuff that is worthy of our attention and action, if we’re occupied with the busy work of the trivial?

It’s time to scale it all back, slow down and actually take something in long enough to fully understand it so I can discern what the real stuff is…

And, church, the real stuff is that we love our neighbor regardless of what the government does. We look to the government to do the things we ought to be doing. We apply worldly philosophies to the task of caring for the poor and least of these. We take on the identity of our political preferences over against the identity of Christ; and then we baptize our views in Christian language to make them sound “Christian”.

This is not an exclusively liberal or conservative tendency; both side are equally guilty of doing it. Please hear me: I don’t want to get all self-righteous here, because I have no room to be so. I am talking to myself just as much as anyone. I am part of the problem! I value my comfort more than the life and well-being of others who may need my help. From a distance, it is easy to dehumanize the other, to blame the other for their lot in life, without truly knowing how or why they got there. And even if they are to blame for their circumstance, mercy will see them not as a lost cause, but a grand possibility.

Mercy is what has kept me; mercy is why I am still here. Mercy is the reason any of us have what we have. And mercy, by its very definition is something that is not deserved. I am called to be merciful, even as my Heavenly Father is merciful…how am I doing in this area? I shudder to think of the answer to that question…

But I’m digressing again…I always digress…ugh! Back to what I was saying…

Scaling back for me is taking a break. Taking a sabbatical of sorts from all this news media chaos that happens on social media. I do not wish to “win the internet”. I want to follow Christ. Period. How I best do that will not be discovered in my FB or Twitter newsfeeds, but in the Word of God. And my ability to act in a Christlike way will not be determined by how fast I can post something, or how well I can articulate my opinion that no one really asked for. It will happen slowly, quietly, as I meditate on God’s Word and seek to obey it in every area of my life.

To be quite frank with you, I am just worn out at this point. It’s only been a month people – we have three years and 11 months more to go! I can only speak for myself, but I think now is a good time for me to be slow to speak and quick to listen. So, this will be my last post about politics, at least for a while. I need to get back to the source of our wholeness, namely Jesus Christ. I must reorient my heart, my life, and my focus on Him. All the other stuff will be clearer when I do that…

More later…grace and peace…

Silence is golden…and sometimes necessary

So, after that long, drawn out diatribe about politics, I have gone silent again. It’s a necessity right now.

This past Sunday, we started a new sermon series called “Words”. To say that it was convicting is an understatement. The opening statement was “Your talk is never cheap; your words have weight”. Well, OUCH! And then there was this zinger:

Speaking redemptively is all about choosing wise words. And that means not merely choosing what to say but what not to say. Sometimes it’s better knowing when NOT to talk than knowing what to say.

Ugh…

So this is where my thoughts are right now. There is a time to speak. And then there is a time to be silent. And I also believe that the medium matters based on the message you’re attempting to send. Not every medium fits every message. There is a genuine struggle that goes on when I stare down a story on WaPo or WSJ and try to decide whether it is wise to share or to keep to myself. I search my motives to see if they are “pure” in the sense of seeking to shed light or simply seeking to create heat (read: drama). Many times the shedding of light has the unintended consequence of creating the heat – but is that reason enough not to share it? I think an argument could be made either way, but how much is too much, and when is it not enough? The area is grey, nebulous, and slightly unnerving.

The beauty and tragedy of social media is that it provides up to the minute information on important things happening in the world. A natural disaster hits, or a horrible event occurs and you are immediately connected to the scene. If you have loved ones there, they have a way to tell you they are safe. All fabulous things, and wonderful blessings. But the immediacy of this information also is fraught with pitfalls and snares, most importantly that information is sometimes not properly analyzed to determine its truthfulness. It takes mere seconds for something crazy false to spread like wildfire; but often, the correction is either never distributed or ignored because we’re on to the next thing.

So what do you do, especially when you’re a news junkie (confession is good for the soul)?

Slow. Down.

Oh yeah – and be quiet…

I’m talking to myself right now. I am quick to hit the “Share” or “Retweet” button after reading something that is utterly appalling to me (I’ve been utterly appalled a lot lately) without thinking through the consequences of posting, or even the accuracy of what I’ve read. I try to keep my sources within a strict window of established news organizations with varying political leanings. But everyone has a bias, and we all lean toward that which validates our own view of things. I lament that we cannot hear the other side without immediately going into all-out war mode at the slightest whiff of disagreement.

So, here I sit…wading through story after story that upsets, concerns, or enrages me. I see injustice swirling all around. I want to stand on a mountaintop and shout. But what should fill the words that are coming out of my mouth (or in my case, my keyboard clicks). Total silence is not the answer, I know. But wise silence is sometimes warranted. Only in that silence can I weigh my words carefully to be more sure that what I’m writing or saying is truthful, and how, when and where I say it is honoring to God and respectful to those created in His image.

More later…grace and peace…