I have a backlog within the filing cabinet of my mind of dozens of articles I want to write. I put these all aside while I worked on my novel, tirelessly day after day. Now that the manuscript is in the hands of the editor, I have a window of opportunity to put some of these mental articles down in “ink.” Don’t be surprised if I do a lot of posting here for the next few days. I will, however, try and make these introductory type articles and limit them to one page. I still have a multiple page article to write, which is Part II of my City of God and will appear in a few weeks. Around that time, I will get my manuscript back from the editor and once again I will be consumed with my final rewrite for the month of June.
A few weeks ago, I did a video blog message about why I speak up here and in other social media sites on certain controversial topics. Many would call these “political,” although that is the furthest thing from my mind. I have no political agenda and would just as easy vote for a Republican as a Democrat if that candidate supported my underlying principles (which I will mention later). But the question that I want to raise this morning is why don’t others speak up? None of what I write will be accusatory in nature, but to raise questions for others to think about. I’m not the one to judge the reasons you decide to speak up or not.
First, I want to describe what my basic principles are, the things I think are worth speaking up about. While many others, including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, or atheists share these principles, for me they are intimately tied to my Christianity. I believe that life, human life and other life has intrinsic value because God created it. I believe that the material world is also part of God’s creation and therefore has great value. In respect to those first two statements, I believe in justice and basic human rights. No one deserves to be abused or exploited. I oppose racism, which is simply making assumptions about someone based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, national origins or any other surface marker. I oppose animal cruelty. I oppose damaging our environment, the nature of the world God has created. I am a lover of truth and those who lie should be opposed and I couldn’t care less of the liar’s political orientation. I oppose the valuation of wealth over human’s intrinsic value. I am an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and it has nothing to do with him being a Republican, but because he violates many of these principles.
So, I start with the premise that most people don’t speak up against violation of these basic principles and I want to discuss why, and I will mention a couple of special situations first.
Business Owner. I was a business owner once and I will be clear, in those days I would not speak in a public form on controversial topics. When I owned my business, I blogged on my site, Christian Monist and often was critical of evangelicalism. My purpose there was to agree with those who came and hated evangelicalism and pointing out that Christianity exist outside of that particular subculture and they could remain a Christian without being an evangelical. This was before the days of Trump, but if it were not, I would not share my opinions about Trump as a business owner. The reason is, there would be “customers” (patents) who would not visit our business because of my opinions, and I wanted their business. I will add, that while I would respect those customers, I personally would never make a choice of where I would patronize based on if they were Trump supporters or not. It would make no difference unless they constantly spoke of Trumpism rhetoric. I did stop visiting one barber in Anacortes because I went there twice, and she forced me to watch her favorite TV evangelist while getting my hair cut but putting a small TV right in front of me and telling me that I should watch this wonderful man and listen to his message.
Pastors: Pastors have a difficult row to hoe because their congregations, in most cases, are very heterogeneous. While he or she may share my same basic principles, they are cautious about speaking of anything that could be taken as political. I understand that. However, I do believe that some strive so hard to be apolitical, that they do not stand up for principles when they should. But there is a way to support those principles. For example, you can present the truth that refugees and immigrants are decent human beings, created in God’s image and deserving respect and dignity without ever mentioning Donald Trump and his racist rhetoric. I know that these pastors wrestle with this dilemma, but I ask, do they need to do more to combat racism, hatred, destruction of our environment and lies in these days of Trump? One of my old evangelical pastors now has a pro-Trump website.
Christian Organizations: I was curious that my old organization, The Navigators, seem to be quite silent. I still know several Navigators and they never, ever say anything about any of these topics. Even if there is something hideous like a school shooting or environmental disaster, they never comment. They actually have a policy statement (and I did not take the time to find it again link it here) that they are called to share the gospel and make disciples so they do not take social or political positions. However, with no opinions about human rights, the environment, justice, and truth . . . what is left of the gospel? Has it not been neutered? Once the salt has lost its saltiness it is worthless. I think the Navigators, as I remember my 14 years with them, is quite dualistic, seeing the universe as the spiritual and material and only the spiritual (as they define it) has merit to be considered.
I then come to personal choices. I know a lot of people who have made the choice to not speak up about these topics and they do for a variety of reasons. I’ve had this discussion with Denise as she is one of these no-speakers. For her, part of it is her public profile and is akin to the business owner’s dilemma. While she shares the same views as me on most of these topics, she would not speak of them in public, being afraid that it would reflect on her place of work. I get that. But she says that she is a private person, as her family members are, and they try to avoid making controversial statements. But when pressed, and she is normal and I am not, she thinks it is linked to her desire to be liked. She does not want to create enemies by saying things that some people find offensive. I think this is very typical. But I challenge this idea without having the confidence to say my perspective is correct.
Tied to this last view is a special consideration of Christians. Christianity hasn’t always valued being nice. However, during the Victorian age of England (last half of the nineteenth century into the first quarter of the twentieth) protestant Christianity become more and more focused on the external traits and, what some historians call, “The Cult of Niceness,” where it become paramount for Christians to appear nice or to not be troublemakers. But I ask, should we be less nice? I’m not talking about political viewpoints, but the essence of values such the issues I’ve raised. I think we must speak up for truth even if we loose friends.
Mike the Lake Hermit