our words and silence matter

I am saddened and heartbroken, but not that surprised by the events today in our nation’s capital. Today, we see that heated words and silent complicity matter.  Jesus warns us: “I tell you that people will have to answer on Judgment Day for every useless word they speak. By your words you will be either judged innocent or condemned as guilty.” (Matthew 12:36-37) Today, amorality, mockery, disrespect, race baiting, untruths, name-calling, bullying, dog whistling, coarseness, vulgarity and self-aggrandizement bore bitter fruit. The damage is done, but what will we learn on this judgement day?  Will we learn that our words and our silence matters?  

 Many are asking how can we heal as a nation? How do we make peace when we are so divided? It will be hard, because there is no healing without truth. Only, the presence of justice allows a fractured community to slowly grow from division towards goodwill. Justice involves truth-telling and personal accountability.  We are better at blaming than taking responsibility. As Christians we can and should forgive, but forgiveness does not paper over the harm someone has done or allow them to keep doing harm.  Ezekiel warns that the false prophets call out, “Peace” when there is no peace, and “He is building a wall” when they helped lay the plaster.” It is not enough to call the fire department and weep over the ruins, if you helped set the house on fire or downplayed the arsonists’ threats. We surely should forgive, but we need to remember those who stoked the flames or downplayed the danger.  If we want to be united then we must not allow those who divide us to lead us any longer.  

Being a peacemaker is hard work. Few will be named such blessed children of God. Peacemakers live by the golden rule, they do not delight in the wrongs anyone suffers, they do not wish upon their enemies the harm they have endured. They break the cycles of retribution and vitriol even as they demand justice for the oppressed. Knowing the searing pain of the cross they do not want anyone to die. Knowing the thorny crown of rejection they embrace everyone. And yet, somehow Love laid bare on the cross calls out Herod’s mockery, Pilate’s silence, Judas’s kiss and Peter’s denial.  And so today, let us carefully check our votes, our posts, our hearts and our silences. The truths we find there may be the only road to our personal and collective healing.

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