'Silence Is Violence'

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘The Tipping Point’, he writes how an idea can skyrocket into success… “These three characteristics – one, contagiousness; two, the fact that little causes can have big effects; and three, that change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment.”

The loss of life… George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others… is no little thing and therefore we find ourselves at a dramatic moment.  For those who may have thought that ‘racism’ was a struggle of the past, they now know, I hope, that racism is very much a struggle of the present.  Some who have said that black Americans have it better than they’ve ever had it, haven’t really gone beyond the façade of their own thinking.  Until we understand and treat everyone as equals, there will be racism and there will be understandable revolt.

We are all a result of our histories.  I am a white male.  I was born a white male with all the privileges that are afforded white men.  I have not had to be careful at traffic stops.  I have not ever worried about profiling.  I have always had the law on my side giving me the benefit of the doubt.  Through no effort of my own, I am a person of privilege.

The dramatic moments of these past few days have caused me pause once again.  They have caused me to question my calling in a new and unique way.  God has called me to ministry.  What does that mean?  I have been called to proclaim the Gospel of a man that was crucified because he stood for the least, the last, the lowest and the lost.  He ate with sinners, for God’s sake (literally).  Choosing to stand for those who struggled to stand for themselves eventually caused the power structure of his day to conspire against him and ultimately murder him.  We frequently refer to Jesus’ death by saying they ‘crucified’ him because I think that word ‘crucify’ has started to sound comfortably religious…so I choose the word murder…for that in fact is what happened.  Jesus was murdered by the establishment of his day.

What does this mean for me…for us…in our day?  What would Jesus do?  What would Jesus say?  Well, he has already done and has already said all there is to be done and said.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).  Treat another’s children like you want your children treated.  That is what he said.  He chose a non-violent posture that allowed for them to murder him so that the cycle of evil could be broken.  He did not return violence for violence.  He returned love for violence…to show us the way to resurrection.

My calling, as well as the calling of all who take on the name of Christ as ‘Christian’, is to not be silent when injustice is occurring.  I saw the sign “Silence is violence” during this weekend’s protest on Atlanta’s streets. Those words pierced my heart.  I am guilty all too often of worrying what others think to the point that I have been silent. Thus I have been a complicit oppressor and thus a racist.  No more!

What kind of world do we want for our living?  What kind of world do we want for our children and grandchildren?  It is up to us to get off our ‘do nothings’; to speak up and speak out.  What has occurred in the past several weeks is wrong and no amount of justification makes it right.  Save us, O Lord, save us!

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24

Always Thinking…

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