I’m not interested in whether you’ve stood with the great. I’m interested in whether you’ve sat with the broken.
Social media makes it easy to know the difficult stories, the tragedies, that rain down on all of us through the 24-hour cycle, the never-ending barrage of updates and breaking news.
And somehow, everyone feels empowered to speak out, to assess and comment on what’s happening, to add their two cents.
Have you read comment threads on some of the posts that circulate? I don’t frequent extreme sites, but even articles that show up in my Facebook or Twitter feed are full of opinions as to what should happen to people viewed as the latest enemies of humanity.
Not that I’m defending enemies of humanity.
But do the rest of us need to become monsters, in response to monstrosities?
This is not about enemies of humanity. It’s about the rest of us, and who we become, in response, to terrible things that happen in the world.
I try not to get caught up in the negative. But it’s frightening what people wish on others, and what extreme things people are willing to say, in the context of judging a situation they have no involvement with.
Are horrible things happening that demand righteous indignation and calls for justice? Yes, without doubt. And I hope justice is served.
But in the process of looking for justice, I hear voices calling for barbarity, for inhumanity, for extreme punishment.
One crime does not merit another. I don’t want to see torture or extreme punishment inflicted in the name of justice. We recognize that some humans do terrible things to others. We should be able to acknowledge that and look for answers, without becoming hate-filled.
There are surely ways to punish, to imprison or require restitution, if humanly possible, that are yet humane.
I’m not suggesting that all wrongs can be righted with imprisonment, and I’m not attempting to weigh in on a discussion of death penalty crimes.
I am saying…whatever punishments society hands out, we shouldn’t devolve to the same level as the criminals and terrorists we abhor.
Or if we do…how are we any better?
I can’t imagine losing someone to a terrorist attack…my heart bleeds for anyone who knows that anguish.
I can’t imagine being a victim of a hate crime, or a vicious personal attack, and I can’t speak for people who’ve experienced that damage.
But for those of us who are onlookers, who comment from the sidelines of social media platforms…even if there is a need to call for justice, surely we can make those calls without hatred and without desire for inhumane retribution.
I want to live in a society that defends victims and holds the guilty accountable.
I do not want to live in a society that occupies itself with meting out inhumane responses to the guilty. That makes us no better than the ones we accuse of hate and terror, of criminal acts and inhumanity.
Can we find a way to uphold the broken, the victims, the injured, demand swift and just retribution, without going to some dark and frightening place with our on-line comments, thoughts, speech?
For myself, I’ve learned to mostly tune out…I don’t watch news online, I rarely click-through to follow headlines, and I seldom read comments on posts that appear to be stoking the fires of divisiveness.
Everyone who reads and posts can make choices…to be part of healing, or to up the ante to extremes…violence, rhetoric, retribution.
I am not saying that crimes do not require punishment, nor am I saying we should be passive in the face of terrorism. I am saying, we should be careful. We should be thoughtful. We should ask if we’re fanning flames, or trying to put them out.
These are difficult times, and answers are often not clear cut…as a person of Christian faith, I often struggle with when to turn the other cheek, and when to voice righteous indignation at wrongs done to defenseless people.
The answer I can consistently find is this: I want to support the weak, sit with the broken, seek justice for the guilty, and promote respect for humanity and life. There are many doing just this, encouraging justice, love, and reason in the face of horror.
There are also those who say terrible things, in response to terrible things. And I just don’t see…how does that help anyone?
No one should become a monster, in the name of defeating monsters.