These are strange days. Each day I encounter news that I could not possibly imagine would ever exist. There is a hashtag called #nottheonion, because ludicrous stories may be satire – or they may be reflective of something real.
Some quotations have worked their way into my consciousness, so I have been praying with them and pondering them.
The first is this one from Dr. Martin Luther King, who we will remember in a national holiday on Monday. I am acutely aware that for many Americans, their own comfort and convenience, their own safety and security, trumps (oh that word) all other things. At some level we are all guilty of this, aren’t we? Yet, when we get right down to it, especially for people of faith, things like comfort, routine, convenience, and so forth are all expendable. What matters is – as Dr. King noted – where we stand at times of challenge and controversy. And I do believe that we are entering a place of great challenge and controversy.
For example, at the so-called news conference on Wednesday, the president-elect ignored a CNN reporter’s question, berated the reporter, and then called CNN fake news. Let’s just say that that kind of behavior does not strike me as either presidential, or as behavior that is attuned to the First Amendment. That this moment stands for challenge and controversy is an understatement. Of course there is an irony to all of this as CNN was practically all Trump all the time, so they had a hand in his election.
News, fake and otherwise, brings me to my next quote. Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich. It was his job to make sure that people believed what the Reich wanted them to believe. His words about lies often repeated seem to be upon us in an a new and dangerous way.
Propaganda exists in all governments, but extreme propaganda is extremely dangerous. Hence the need for that pesky First Amendment and a free press. Yet, it in Goebbels’ day, it did not take long for people to believe what they were told to believe. In fact, they were led to believe that their comfort, safety, security, and so forth, was dependent on a certain way of being. That propaganda killed six million Jews, and a multitude of others. Remember – that made many people feel safe and comfortable at the time, in fact they believed that had to happen in order for them to be safe and comfortable. Just remember that, because it may come up in our future. Maybe not the Holocaust, but something on the same spectrum.
While reminding me to look back at the Dr. King quote, I found that there was another that fit the bill for today. It comes from author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling, and said by Dumbledore. The full quote says:
“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon, we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. But remember this: You have friends here; you’re not alone.”
We all have choices. For those of us who are people of faith, let our faith guide our choices. One quick reference for me as a Catholic Christian is this… if my comfort or convenience comes first, it may not be best for the greater common good. Jesus was very clear about these things. As far as I can tell, salvation is not about personal piety, but about pouring out our lives for others.
We do all have choices. Many of us made choices on November 8, 2016, and come January 20, 2017, a new president will be inaugurated. We already are facing choices, all of us, even before that day comes. Choose wisely, because what is right is typically not easy, and it costs more. Your comfort and convenience begin to shift at that point. Remember you will be faced with decisions to make, choices. Choose wisely, and remember that you have friends here. None of us is alone.
Some choices have been made, let us make good choices going forward. May we choose wisely, together. Always together.