Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast1 Peter 5:6-10
We live in increasingly scary times, with people dying in hospitals of a strange virus and George Floyd’s listless body and pleas for mercy ignored at the brutal hands of an individual charged with protecting us, and rioters in the streets, looting and destroying property. If one can turn away from the TV, laptop and phone screen and the relentless images of death, anger and destruction for a moment, it’s possible to see an age-old story being replayed before our eyes.
As we’ve seen a pandemic take lives and livelihoods, and watched a man breathe his last breath under the knee of a police officer, I’d wager the vast majority of Americans have had similar reactions: something appears to be seriously wrong and we can take sensible steps together to make things better. Whether that’s wearing a mask to slow the spread of the virus or engaging in dialogue or peaceful protest in pursuit of positive change, most folks are ready to work together.
Unfortunately, our country and all we represent are under attack from smaller groups outside the silent majority, representing extreme views, working to create disruption and chaos. These groups stoke our fears and prey on the singled out, silencing them with shouts, slurs and sometimes violence. Their power grows every time they silence someone without a response from the well-meaning majority, and their use of intimidation expands as their influence subverts our sense of trust and civic virtue.
At one end of the spectrum, some claim the moral high ground of wanting a fully-restored economy then refuse to wear masks in public as a show of personal freedom, regardless of the viral harm. At another extreme, some claim the moral high ground of social justice then foment riots, looting and violence while hiding behind a mask for their own selfish protection of identity. Both extremes need to be pointed out for what they’re actually doing.
These groups that provoke disruption and disunity are not interested in meaningful solutions because solutions put them out of business. Instead, they fuel the fires of fear to expand their power. They confront well-meaning people with a choice: are you with us, no matter what evil we do? Or are you against us and, thus, the next individual target of our verbal, digital and physical violence? Scripture tells us that God is with us when we stand for what’s right.
So, first, let’s remember Jesus’ call to love one another then, second, let’s act on it. Let’s regard wearing a mask in public to slow the spread of a virus as an act of love and ride that wave of compassion toward a restored economy. Let’s question wearing a mask in public to conceal identity while throwing bricks at first responders and store windows as an act of evil cowardice. Then let’s unite in standing for what’s right, what’s good and what’s uplifting.
To put it simply, any idiot can steal, kill and destroy, but it takes loving people of courage and compassion to build up, stand up and speak out together in the face of their attacks. Let’s all stand together in the defense of what is good and right about Texas, about America, about humanity.