I don’t know what to do.

“If there a judgment day I’m not going to answer for this.” 

I needed counsel from a pastor friend recently. While we talked she said this, it stuck out. 

I have been staring into the middle distance over the past few days almost numb, again. I can’t think about what to do because anything I do will not change anything. There is too much apathy from the middle and commitment to a lie on the right for anything to change and I am beyond sad. I do not really have the words anymore. I have used them all up. 

Where do we go from here? How do I live in a world where a toy is more important than a child? How do I talk to someone who does not live in the same reality I do, use the same facts I do? How do I exist in a world where evidence is an agenda, where commitment to my neighbor is partisanship? I am afraid. Where does this end?

El Paso Shooting Sam Hatton Tea Lights

I am afraid of what we will accept as normal. I am afraid that I will be the next scapegoat. I am afraid of my neighbors. I am afraid of your church. I am afraid that this will not end unless something breaks. I am afraid that this ends in a train on the way to a camp. I know it may sound hyperbolic to some people but I have run out of words. 

And yet…

I cannot look away.  I cannot ignore my neighbor struggling to make ends meet while working two jobs.  I cannot ignore hungry children who are looking forward to school starting because it will mean two meals a day for most of the week.  I cannot disengage because I am worried my marriage will be declared illegal after waiting so long for the right to live as a family. I cannot look away from the blood of Texans spilled in shopping centers, clubs, and schools.  I cannot look away from violence done in my country’s name and paid for by my money as asylum seekers are treated as less than the human individuals they are.

Some days, looking is all it seems I can do.  I can bear witness and I can grieve. But, when I think about how I want to spend my life, on how I want to use the time given to me, it is not enough to only bear witness.  Even when it is hopeless, I refuse to be silent when people are being harmed.

My friend also sat in a class by another pastor describing fighting for his community, sometimes winning and sometimes not.  She asked why he did not purposely and strategically pick the fights that they could win. That pastor-teacher smiled and answered, “It matters to successfully protect each other.  But even when we fall short, there is joy in the fight.”

There is joy in the fight.  It matters to protect our neighbors and to stand up for families.  It matters to work with our community to make our home a place that is safe for all of us.  There is joy in recognizing the inalienable rights of each person we encounter and there is joy in the mutual dangers and labors of working to perfect our union.

What you do matters. If there is a judgment day, we will all be judged for the time given to us and how we choose to use it. Whatever that day may bring, there is a joy to be had today in standing together and protecting each other.  Choose to be joyful. Choose to be kind. If that day comes, I hope God will show more mercy than we have shown each other.