It seems that in this holiday season, there are so many things to think, feel, and engage with. Both abroad and at home, we have terrorism, the fight for racial justice, refugee crises, climate change, and divisive political clamor. Grief, fear, anger, support, cynicism, apathy, confusion, and pride come crashing together from all sides.
Personally, it has been absolutely head-exploding to hear about a Christian university president urging more students to carry guns to “end those Muslims,” baffling to see widespread protest and even flat out refusal among US states to admit refugees (not to mention some presidential candidates suggesting to prioritize Christian refugees as though somehow they are “safer” and more deserving than the rest), and puzzling as to why racial justice is not a more important issue to many churches in the US. In the midst of all the analyses and op-eds (all of which are vital for navigating these issues), I feel in some ways we are losing grounds for mutual understanding. Yes, I am being naïve and idealistic – out of all things, how can I possibly call for “mutual understanding” in the face of blatant bigotry and injustice? Mutual understanding sounds like child’s play. It’s an unreasonable pursuit, when we can be slogging through systematic barriers to achieve real change…
So what do I make of all that? I really don’t know, so I’m just going to share some of the thoughts swirling in my head.
First I have to confess that I have lived and thought as though the world was made for me
But more and more it seems I’m just another person entering an entire world narrative
A narrative already familiar with joyous times, revolutions, and horrors
A narrative that has, is, and will exist beyond our lifetimes.
With that smallness, let me share my foolish hope.
Warmonger, bigot, simpleton
I’d call myself that, had I been born into a different life
Born into blinding privilege, a different culture with a different mode of thought.
I’d tell myself all the same, you know, you have a responsibility
To learn, to realize, to accept, to act
Would I be able to rescue myself? Maybe.
But maybe, probably not
Because for some people words are enough, but for others fists aren’t enough
I’d be too stubborn to learn, to realize, to accept, to act
Because remember? I’d think the world was made for me
And the world gives proof for everything everyone wants to believe
I’d drive them crazy, burn the remains of patience into fire
And when fists come my way, I’d cry out
See how they act. I was right all along
Everything they say is wrong
They are a bunch of thugs.
And there will be people to praise me for standing my ground – a happy ending.
What is the road to changing a nation?
My heart tells me reconciliation, not retribution
My mind tells me we are running out of words.
Sometimes words can’t describe our feelings, so we must express
Joy, sadness, anger
But often we can’t communicate our feelings to even those closest to us
Friends, spouses, ourselves
Mutual understanding, like I said,
Is foolish hope.
I believe that Jesus breaks down barriers
That there is hope in Him
But many will scoff and for good reason.
How can one man’s death substitute
For the wrongs of so many, over so long a time?
I ask those same questions
As I lie at night
As I am silently told
That I must continue to seek that which is deemed foolishness.