Wednesday Word: Silence is Not Golden
If I were to remain silent, I'd be guilty of complicity – Albert Einstein
In my last couple of sermons, and in last week's Wednesday Word, I've addressed the issue of abuse in a variety of forms, but primarily the abuse of women. Unfortunately abuse happens in many circumstances – women, children, and the elderly being primary. Abuse can be subtle or overt. And abuse always happens at the hands of those with power over those who have little or no power.
Which is why it is unreasonable to expect those who are abused to end the abuse. There are a myriad reasons why this is not always possible, but the number one reason is due to the power imbalance. Expecting the abused to put an end to the abuse is like telling your six-year old child to go find a better place to eat if they don't like what's for dinner.
Abuse of people will never end until the kingdom of God is fully established. But we can address it, we can help to fight it and hopefully decrease how often it happens. The key is for those of us with the most power – read, white men – to shine a light on this dark practice when it happens.
Certainly this means when we see anything obvious, but it also means stepping up and speaking out at the least obvious times. Everything from boorish behavior to comments about body image to “locker room” talk to boys-will-be-boys excuses need to be brought to light.
We are asked, and we have promised, to live into our baptismal covenant every day; not just on Sundays during a particular liturgy when it's convenient. How is allowing this behavior resisting evil? How is this behavior proclaiming the Good News? How does allowing this behavior exhibit love of neighbor? Maybe most importantly, how does allowing this behavior respect the dignity of every human being?
Yes, doing so is uncomfortable. Yes, doing so may put you on the receiving end of what has been dished out to others. Yes, this is difficult. But again, nobody said following Christ would be easy.
If we allow our fear to drive us, if we are silent because we don't want to cause trouble, then we ourselves are complicit in actions taken, and we ourselves are as guilty as the actual abuser.
In the case of abuse, silence is not golden; silence is insidious.
May God grant you the wisdom to identify imbalances and the courage to fight for equality and respect.