…So I have just spent the last thirty days writing political posts on a blog that was never supposed to be political.
But these last three years have left me with something that needs to be more than a month-long rant. What unsettles me the most are the reasoned, thoughtful, pieces that discuss the loss of democracy through authoritarianism. Do you know how it happens? Good people like you and me simply tune out what is happening because: A) We can’t believe it has come to this; B) We simply zone out because of A; C) We don’t know what we can possibly do against something so BIG; or D) We don’t talk about it because our friends voted for the other party, and we know what discussing politics
has done does to friends and families.
But this is important, friends: It is no longer Politics As Usual. We bury our heads in the sand at our country’s peril. (And believe me, I am a long-time ostrich…) And so I pulled my head out of the sand, blinked in the sunlight, and wrote some things here that might offend, but I have tried to write them in the most reasoned way I could. We do not need to add another screaming voice to this already polarized country.
I was reading my morning scriptures today — I’m in Ezekiel (!) — and I was struggling hard to understand what Chapter 22 was telling me, when I came to verse 30: “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.”
No, it isn’t about building a wall. (Please read this post, if you need to hear my views on walls….) It is about being righteous, standing up for righteousness, for justice, for mercy, for love. Righteousness must be tempered by love, or else we have someone who is a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal; love must be tempered by righteousness or we have wantonness. Justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy on its own without justice makes us doormats. Love & Righteousness, Justice & Mercy–they belong on opposite sides of the same coin; one without the other is an imbalance, a lack of harmony, a breach…
These days the country is certainly imbalanced, harmony is hard to find, and perhaps the breach is miles wide, but what is democracy worth? For my entire lifetime, democracy has not needed to be fought for, and perhaps we have grown soft and complacent, thinking the United States of America was the founding of democracy, and we needn’t worry about it.
- After all, don’t we have the Constitution?
- Don’t we have three branches of government that balance each other?
- Aren’t we all certain of our freedom and our voting rights?
- Dictators and tyrants and authoritarian rulers are not our allies, are they?
If the events of the last few months have you wondering or worrying about these questions, I suggest that we remember that it wasn’t so long ago, we needed to fight for democracy. The odd thing about now is that it seems our democracy is deteriorating from within. And we can’t agree about who is doing the crumbling as the walls fall to pieces with people on either side shouting and throwing rocks.
What we need is courageous people to stand in the breach. Courageous people to say “Stop shouting.” “Stop Tweeting.” Put down the ugly sign in your hand, turn to the person next to you, and offer it to them.
I’ve been reading The Case for the Psalms by N.T. Wright and there is this beautiful quote toward the end. He writes about “…a people of praise who, out of their celebration of God’s goodness in creation and out of their eager anticipation of his coming in judgment at last, speak his word and his truth to those in power, reminding them that they are answerable to the God who will one day hold them accountable.”
Can we speak truth to those in power? Will we stand in the breach, or have we gone too soft after years of easy living? Will we offer our hands to those who are different from us? Are we willing to do the hard work of reconciliation or is it just easier to keep shouting and interrupting? Jesus stands in the gap for us, and calls us to do the same. How will you stand?