What I Stand For
These days I hate to read the news. I hate to click on links that people post to Facebook (though sometimes I click on them anyway). When something happens in the world, I want to hide away and not come out to look at it at all.
I do want to look. I do want to read. But when conspiracy theories are around every corner, I don't want to read at all. I don't want to look. Because no matter what it is, no matter how well-researched, no matter how partisan or non-partisan, there is going to be someone who dismisses it as fake. The Sandy Hook shooting -- fake. Climate change -- fake. Trump's ties to Russia -- fake. Vaccines cause autism -- fake. Vaccines don't cause autism -- fake. The New York Times is a reputable publication. The New York Times is crooked. White supremacy is real, and to be denounced. White supremacy is real, and to be encouraged. White supremacy doesn't exist. Republicans are ignorant and evil. Democrats are baby-killers. And so on, and so on, and so on, until we break under the strain and cower under our desks... duck and cover, hoping that'll save us.
When facts aren't facts anymore, where can we go?
When everything is suspect, by someone or another, how can we live except in fear? And how can we protect ourselves from those who would take advantage of that fear?
There's some comfort in knowing that professional standards aren't going to disappear overnight: that people still have to go to med school, there's still a bar exam, students somewhere are still learning formal rules of debate. There is comfort in that. I still go to a writing group on Monday nights, and we still critique each other's pieces in a constructive, friendly way. My family is still going to celebrate Christmas together. Not everyone is paranoid; not everyone is dismissive.
But I am exhausted and disgusted and ready to tune out.
Because of this, I am going to spend more time offline and more time with other people. I am also going to write letters to the people who represent me in government, and I am going to tell them where I am and what I stand for. Tuning out is an easy response, but it doesn't accomplish anything alone, only makes the extreme voices louder in the silence.
I stand for equality for all human beings. Every one of us needs the fertile soil of tolerance so we can thrive.
I stand for respectful disagreement. When people lose respect for each other, I stand for the humility which can bring us together again.
I stand for freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I stand for freedom of conscience.
I stand for all who are trying in good faith to work for change, even when we disagree on what that change should be.
I stand for those who are afraid. Underlying the fear, there is the rock of God.
I stand for the love of God that sparks in our hearts when we listen for it.
I stand for those who are in despair. You are not alone; come walk with me.