I was recently talking with the parent of a high schooler, who said that bullying incidents tied to the election of Donald Trump have been noticeable around Central high school. The parent noted that school officials seem hesitant to speak out against the behavior. I haven’t talked to those officials, but as someone who is also in a public position, I’m wondering if it’s fear of backlash from parents who might align themselves politically with Mr. Trump.
How did we get to a place where school officials and pastors are concerned about speaking against behavior that is clearly wrong, because we don’t want to seem partisan or political? How does a change in administration mean that we suddenly can no longer speak out against things like racism and bullying?
So many issues have become partisan over the past several years—things which should not be. Welcoming refugees and treating immigrants with respect, for example, should not be a partisan issue. Even if you have differences of opinion on policies or laws, every American is descended from someone who came here from somewhere else. Even Native Americans migrated here from Asia. We were all once strangers in a strange land, and we all deserve to be treated with decency and humanity.
Similarly, there’s a battle in the public sphere about fake news—what stories are true, and which might be exaggerated or even made up. All of us should want the best information, well researched, fact-checked, cross referenced, and verifiable. Just because we don’t like a particular story doesn’t mean it’s fake. Similarly, science is not something in which to believe or disbelieve, it’s based on evidence. Climate change is a fact, and people’s opinions about it don’t change it being fact. These should not be partisan issues. Conservatives and liberals will have different opinions about how to react to certain facts, or how (or whether) to enact policies around them, but ignoring reality is only going to hurt us all.
If you can’t tell, I’m a little frustrated by this. Again, being in a public role, especially in a community that values diversity of opinion, I don’t want to appear partisan. But nor am I willing to be silent when people are being dehumanized, degraded, or slandered. Nor am I willing to be silent when truth is labeled as “fake news,” and reality is put up for debate.
These are hard times, friends. If you’re inclined, would you please pray for me, that God might steady my nerves and clear my focus? Please also pray for each other, and for our leaders. If we all do our best, and help each other when we need it, we can get through this.
Grace and peace,