Truth and Meaning: Silence

Truth and Meaning: Silence

Midland Daily News Editor Jack Telfer recently blogged about the frustration he feels lately. He expressed his sadness over people who “have no tolerance for Christians who believe the Bible is the word of God and that it provides all the wisdom we need to live our lives.”

I can certainly understand the frustration when one receives criticism and negative comments from people who reject one’s religious viewpoints. But far more worrisome for me than the barbs of critics is the deafening silence from those who purport to be religious.

This nation lies in the grip of a fundamentalist movement typified by mean-spiritedness, selfishness and intolerance. Legislators denounce people daily whose lifestyle differs from their own, or who lack the privilege granted white, straight men in this country. This group disrespects our president, even when doing so is inconsistent and illogical, and I am hard-pressed to not attribute some of this hatred to their bigotry. They have ground the functioning of our government to a standstill and continue to throw political tantrums (and millions of taxpayer dollars) at attempts to block our provision of basic, affordable health care to 50 million Americans.

Far more mystifying to me than the regressive politics of these extremists that have hijacked the Republican Party, however, is the silence of many Christian colleagues and friends. This group purports to speak not only for conservatives in this country, but also for the Christian majority. And in doing so, this group promotes cutting aid to the poor, attacking civil rights of minorities, trampling medical care access for women and children, and undermining governmental support for community infrastructure.

Victim-blaming has become a national pastime — from an innocent boy stalked and murdered in Florida, to countless women raped and beaten, to gay youth bullied every day into suicide. To people of faith, when are we going to say “Enough is enough!” When are we going to say that it is time to institute common sense gun control laws? When are we going to start telling men that rape is NEVER permitted? When are we going to stand up to the bullies and command them to stop hating their neighbors?

This is not anti-Christian rhetoric. The wisdom of the Bible is very clear on these matters — as is the wisdom of the Qur’an and the Tao te Ching and the Analects of Confucius. Love your neighbor. Care for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned. Do not worship golden idols. You will be judged not only on what you believed, but by what you did in life — “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

If you remain silent when your brothers and sisters ask for your help or demand justice, then don’t be surprised at the response your silence receives.