I went to bed last night after watching this exclusive on the events in Charlottesville thinking about the passive racism in areas like where I grew up. No one wants to believe they’d be swept up in a tide of hatred and violence, but what if you’re gradually moved, one inch, one speech, one tweet at a time, and suddenly you’ve arrived?
There’s been a lot of sly propaganda given to gradually turn dormant racism into active hatred. Rhetoric matters – Hitler didn’t start by saying, let’s kill the Jews. He started by telling the Germans they deserved more and they deserved better, that it was the “other” who was threatening their security and their economy. He laid blame on someone else and cultivated hate and fear, winning people with his inflammatory speech and dramatic gestures. He wanted to make Germany great again. And the people were won over.
The current is growing, and its movement undercuts our country’s foundation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The current is working to gradually distort the truth, to bend and reshape reality, to cast doubt on the sources of information that have served to educate and inform the population, until there’s only one news source some people will trust for information.
And when you have the undivided attention of a group of people, the power of your propaganda grows.
Who is there to speak truth in love? Who is responsible but me, you, us, to speak up?
Our conversations with family and friends and neighbors ought to be littered with things that matter, and this latest blatant display of hatred matters. How will our children know what is real and good and true if we don’t tell them over and over, condemn violence and hate, revere what is beautiful?
In our time of social media and sound bites, conversations are hard. The rhetoric has worn a deep groove and the water is moving. If you fall into a strong current, experts say the best way to survive is to keep your head above water. Position your feet downstream to protect your head. Look downstream and keep calm. Breathe with the flow of the water. And as soon as you find a calmer current, get out. Swim toward shore.
Keep your head – speak with love and don’t lose your temper. Position your feet for action and protection. Look ahead to hope and truth. Listen and question and move with the flow of conversations but keep speaking. Keep breathing truth, love, peace, humility, kindness. Ride the current all the way to calmer waters and then exit to shore.
Then stand with love, on the side of peace, in the presence of hope and faith, against the darkness.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Isaiah 5:20
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5