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Silence is Violence

The other day I drove past a church that had a banner hanging on the side of the building that read “silence is violence!” The message was powerful. It said two things quite clearly: 1) obviously this wasn’t your average church and 2) and probably more importantly, it is really easy, with all of the craziness that seems to be going on in the world, to not do anything about it until we have to. At least, that was the version of the second thought that came to mind nearly immediately for me. There are certainly other ideas that come to mind, but the the root of them all is the same: violence happens when those who have the power to do something do nothing. I have thought about this sign a lot this week. The timing of driving by that church and seeing that sign couldn’t have been more perfect. I have been feeling a lot lately this urge to be more active and vocal about things in our world that just seem not right. But, I think like many, it easily feels overwhelming. There is so much going on that needs to be spoken about, so much action to be taken, too much to carry. “Where do I start? What can I do?” This is the voice that easily creeps in.

Add to that the idea that as some one who believes in universal spiritual principles, that somehow, somewhere along the line came this notion that we can’t ever stand against anything; that we can and “should” only ever stand “for” something. An idea that says “against” energy and thoughts are somehow destructive and negative and bad, and we “should” only ever have thoughts that are constructive and positive and good. While simultaneously claiming oneness.

I believe this idea has been badly misconstrued, that somehow we are to only ever recognize that which feels good and positive, while that which feels anythings less than that easily goes ignored by us in the movement.

What a privilege it is to never HAVE to stand against anything. There is nothing wrong with privilege. In fact, I look forward to the day when no one has to stand against anything - when all share that privilege. But today, there are things - many things - that need to be stood up against and questioned; some even broken down. The idea of standing for something does not mean we don’t recognize that which is not right or that which needs to change. We must look at life head on, claim what is true, and work to change what is not acceptable.

So while we stand against injustice, we stand for justice. When we stand against inequality, we stand for equality. When we stand against hate, we stand for love.

This week, when contemplating the banner on the side of the church that I drove by, I was so strongly reminded that change takes those of us who don’t have to do anything to just do something.

I know that it can often feel overwhelming for those of us looking to do something. It can often feel like we should do everything, which ironically often keeps us from doing anything. But if we were to just start by doing one thing… if we all did just one thing… and then the next one thing... and the next…. To go out of your way to do the next one thing when you don’t have to, that is what brings change.

And in case there was doubt around whether that is enough, we very recently saw what can happen when we each just do the next one thing. On certain sides of social media earlier this week there was a wide call for individuals to reach out to the Kansas City, MO Prosecutor to insist he do the right think and hold accountable the man who, after shooting teen Ralph Yarl, was let free to go home with no charges pressed. I wasn’t there so I can’t say for certain what the exact impact was of those of us who reached out to stand for justice, but I can say that the right thing has since been done.

This post today is not meant to be as much about this specific instance of justice, or even as much about the banner outside that church. The message today is to call to task the idea of standing idly by as some sort of spiritual noble stance and instead recognize the power that rests in us all when we are not silent even when we could be.

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