I can’t do that anymore.

firsttheycameIn high school and college, I followed politics voraciously and closely. I was up for any debate. But then I slowly took a step back,  burnt out and disillusioned as the country and world became increasingly hostile and angry (as well as the lack of bi-partisanship, and frankly, aggression, between parties). I stopped following the news as closely, staying informed, but removed emotionally.

I can’t do that anymore.

It would certainly be more comfortable for me not to speak up. Many bloggers I know make the choice not to make their feelings on “issues” public (including myself). I get it; I have been there. At best, it takes a lot of energy to dialogue in a respectful way and at worst, it becomes mud wrestling in the comment section. Announcing opinions on the internet does not always leave room to change one’s mind.

Let’s face it. Who actually likes those people on Facebook who are constantly posting politically incendiary things, no matter the party? I don’t. I can’t. It’s like sensory overload. It’s easier to keep my opinions to myself, to close my computer.

But I can’t do that anymore.

You see, when I took a step back, I just expected other people to do the work. I expected others to course correct when a person or political party said something ridiculous or there was an absurd proposal. It’s not that I didn’t care. It was that sensory overload, an emotional exhaustion, and I just figured others could pick up the slack.

But I can’t do that anymore.

I can’t avoid online conflict because the fact is, whatever its size, this is a platform. And for me not to speak has officially become more terrifying than standing up for what I believe is right. Let me tell you why.

It started a few weeks ago, in the wake of the Paris attacks, when Trump* announced he thought there should be a database for Muslims (afterwards, he amended his idea to monitor Muslim refugees and “some” mosques).

Was this real? Could a front runner for president from our country’s two party system actually say (or perhaps worse, think) such a thing? My insides started to quiver. It brought to mind two instances–a hint, a faint whiff, subtle–where a group of people were monitored based on their faith or ethnicity: the days of Nazi Germany (it started as “monitoring) or what we did to the Japanese during WWII (they were forced to leave their homes, jobs, businesses, everything, to live in interment camps).**

When it comes to the latter, let me emphasize: we did that. Things like that can happen in America. Sometimes I think we–I know I do this–all believe we are a little protected because this is America. That word, this place brings to mind the Statue of Liberty, the American Dream, the Bill of Rights, and so much more. We believe we are the good guys and that we will always be the good guys.

But I can’t do that anymore.

Trump’s plan was only the beginning. Within a few days, over half of America’s governors signed their names to a document saying they would not accept any Syrian Refugees. When I tweeted my shame that governors in America did this, someone I respect greatly pointed out that whether refugees are accepted or denied is a federal issue. The thing is, I knew that. But I didn’t care. They signed their names to a document that said the people, the refugees of Syria, were not welcome in America. 

That’s shameful.

Writing about controversies here is not fun. As a blogger, in two years, I have maybe posted five truly controversial posts and then signed my name to those posts. I’ve had plenty of opinions but I haven’t written them here. I haven’t signed my name to them.

But I can’t do that anymore.

Then there was the mayor in Virginia who said this: “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

My insides began to shake, not just quiver. Could this really be happening?

But then the latest plan of Donald Trump’s: “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”***

This is happening here. Right here. I understand that it’s a proposal. But he’s the frontrunner for president from the republican party and to not take him seriously would be a mistake. For a long time, when he said things I found absurd, I didn’t take him seriously because I saw him as the guy who put huge letters on the building near where I worked in Downton Chicago and told people, “You’re fired” on The Apprentice. I was wrong. It’s not just polls either. People I respect, people I go to for life advice, believe he is the best candidate. I underestimated him.

But I can’t do that anymore.

I know it’s nice to go about our days. I understand it is easier to go about life as normal and I would prefer to run my errands and shovel my snow and cuss that I forgot to buy milk at the grocery store, be wary of the laundry pile, wish my kid could sleep through the night, change the sheets on my bed and curse that damn fitted sheet (or whatever your version of normal is). I understand. I do. Because I am trying to move right now and everything in my life is a mess. I would prefer to handle that and only that.

But I can’t do that anymore.

If I don’t speak, if I don’t use whatever “voice” I have, to denounce all of this, then what? What is next? Each time one of these things happened I could not believe it and yet I never expected it to get worse. But it is getting worse, increasingly so.

And so I cannot be quiet anymore.

Recently, I saw a comment on Facebook. Someone was complaining about something that the federal government does–imagine taxes, insurance, all that pesky stuff that is annoying. This person’s complaints were not out of line but then this person said something like: I usually don’t like to talk about politics but this is really ridiculous.

It hit me that this translates to: I usually don’t like to talk about politics but this affects me so it’s different.

This person is not an anomaly. This person is you and this person is me. Even as I write this, I am trying to put my list of things to do (rental insurance, changing my address, packing, etc.) out of my head. We care when it affects us.

But I can’t do that anymore.

These are dangerous times.

Here is a story: I fell behind in answering comments and so a few days ago, I replied to a comment originally written about the post I wrote in reaction to Paris. She said something about how crazy it is and how sad, that she can no longer think when an act of terrorism will happen but only where it would be, that these horrible events feel inevitable.

Do you realize, I wrote back, that by the time I am replying there has already been an act of terrorism, a mass shooting, in San Bernardino?

These are dangerous times.

A man running for president, the canidate who has by far gotten the most media attention, and continues to be the front runner for one of the parties in our two party system has said that he will not allow Muslims into this country.***

Don’t worry though. If you are Muslim and already a citizen, he isn’t going to deport you or anything.

Don’t worry though. If you practice another faith, this won’t affect you either.

Don’t worry though. They’re talking religion. Your sexual orientation, your skin color, the amount of money you make, you won’t ever be affected based on those things.

I hope you sense my sarcasm because I don’t believe him. I don’t believe him–and people like him–at all.

I’m not suggesting this is the Holocaust.** But what I will say is that Hitler did not announce out of the blue that he was putting all the Jews, the handicapped, the elderly (and others) on trains to concentration camps where they would be killed in gas chambers. It never happens like that.

It happens slowly. It creeps along, hatefulness like this. Have you ever heard the anecdote about the frog? If you boil water and put a frog in, it will jump right out. But if you put a frog in some water and turn up the heat slowly, the frog does not jump out. I can’t say whether this is scientifically sound but it feels like we are all the frog, that the water is slowly warming.

I’m a Christian and everyone is welcome here. But I am calling out my fellow Christians: we can’t do it anymore. 

We cannot be silent. We cannot ignore the commands of Jesus. We cannot pretend that this is not happening. We cannot try and justify the policies of people in a certain party because we have voted a certain way our whole lives. We cannot raise our voices over abortion and not raise our voices over this. We have to seriously examine the intensity of the connection between claiming to be a Christian and not just defending the right to bear arms but an unwillingness to examine gun control in this country. We must recognize that according to the Bible we are sojourners here, that we are citizens of Heaven, and as such we are refugees too. We cannot ignore passages like this one, Jesus’s words, because it is just easier:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).

A part of me does not want to publish this. A part of me is afraid. In the past, that fear would dictate whether this actually was posted.

But I can’t do that anymore.
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P.S. I tried to cite everything and use a variety of sources (because it is important to me that I am informed by a variety of sources) but since some of the things I talk about happened in the recent past and every day there is a new headline, I did the best I could.

*I wrote this before Trump’s CNN interview. I have no idea how that is going to go. Also, this is not about Trump but rather a series of events that have had me examining my own heart and the Gospel. I hope that is clear.

**I am not comparing Trump to Hitler. I hope this is obvious but I am putting this here just in case. I find that argument to be insensitive to the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust when Hitler committed a genocide against a race of people.

***There are caveats to his plan.

Finally, Jen Hatmaker said it better than I ever could .

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14 thoughts on “I can’t do that anymore.

  1. Lindsay

    I am legitimately scared by him. Like frightened to my core. And the people who support him scare me. We swore in a new governor Tuesday and he is Trump-like. I cried. Spending 4 years under him is terrifying. Thank you for speaking up on this… I will be doing the same.

    1. Nina Post author

      I think, and I could be wrong, that maybe we need to be more worried about not him as a person, but allllll the people who continue to say they would vote for him. And allllll the people who don’t have a problem with any of the actions or the policies I talked about hear. That’s scarier to me. He couldn’t do anything without the will of the people, you know?

  2. Rhonda Batiuk

    I think that quote by Neimoller is so powerful. In Canada there are factions of the West that are very fearful especially as our new prime minister is moving forward with decisive action in bringing 25,000 refugees before the end of the year. I live in the West so I hear and see these sentiments posted on Facebook frequently. It makes me want to avoid Facebook. I could only imagine if the news and our political leaders also shared these sentiments. Here the news stations are presenting a more practical and less impassioned viewpoint. I think the majority of Canadians now are only mildly curious to see the influx. It is brave to engage in the conversation but when and where and with whom should also be carefully considered. When engaging with individuals who are operating from a place of fear the natural response is to fight, freeze or flee. Fear mongering is a powerful tactic.

    1. Nina Post author

      I very much agree that there is a time and a place when to engage. Fear mongering IS a powerful tactic. As I talked to people who do like Trump or don’t have a problem with any of the issues I bring up, it really is a matter of their fear taking over (whether it is the politicians using it, propaganda, the media etc.) It will be very interesting to see what happens when the refugees arrive in Canada and your pov is interesting. My guess is that nothing will happen. These are people who left their homes because of ISIS. I just can’t imagine turning them away.

  3. Rebecca

    Nina, good for you for speaking up! All of this has been weighing on my heart but I’ve been too fearful of jumping into the politics debate with my own opinions on my blog. The verses there are so perfect for this moment in history (and many, many others, indeed). I am absolutely anxious that trump will be elected, and then where on earth will we be? Rapidly becoming an enemy to even more of the world than we already are, and that’s frightening.
    Keep sharing your heart. It’s a lovely thing.

    1. Nina Post author

      Rebecca, I am still fearful! Haha. It is scary to think about the fact that not only is the front runner in one of the parties saying this but that he is the front runner because people are backing him. And yes, I do think what the ramifications will be in the Middle East a generation from now, more alienated than ever. But people who don’t agree with us would say that it doesn’t matter, they have to think about now. And I just want to remind them that Jesus doesn’t promise us safety. Actually kind of the opposite. Thank you for your encouragement because it super hard to share it. xo

  4. Alanna @ Alanna & Company

    I love that you tackle the hard subjects and write so eloquently about them. At this point, I think Trump’s tactics are all about the shock value. I think I might have mentioned this a little while ago when commenting, but it’s just so easy to perpetuate ignorance with the technology of this day and age. My wish is for more mutual understanding and acceptance of everyone. My hopes are for the best out of this election and to make sure that as America, we continue to be a land of the free with the continued freedom of religion.

    1. Nina Post author

      Alanna,

      Thank you for the compliment. It takes a lot for me to press post, particularly on this one. I really did go back and forth.

      I do think some/all/who knows how much of what Trump says is for shock value. That’s why I didn’t want to make it all about Trump as the man or the reason for the post. Because the fact is, even if he is saying it for shock value, people are responding to it. And I don’t just mean the media is covering it (which is also a major thing obviously). But people are saying, “I would vote for what this man stands for.” To me, the things he says make me worried about whether he could provide continued freedom of religion in this country. And there are people cheering for those things he is saying. So I felt like, though it would be more comfortable to not speak up, I had to say something because these are not things to cheer for.

      I so appreciate you!

  5. Kristyn

    When he said that, I cringed. I can’t believe people still support him and think this is a good idea. And his approval rating actually went up after those comments. I feel for the refugees of Syria too, and the victims in San Bernandio and Paris. But not allowing Muslims or Syrians into America is crazy. Steve Jobs would never have created Apple if he weren’t allowed into the country (he’s was a Syrian refugee). Think about what other wonderful people/ideas/companies you would be eliminating if you didn’t allow them in. So ludicrous.

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