This post contains religiously-informed bias and argues from a perspective informed by the Christian faith. While this is true of many of my posts, this one in particular felt impossible to couch in other terms or avoid.
Doing what's right is hard.
That statement in and of itself seems to be a matter of debate in contemporary America, because we don't want things to be hard. We don't want to ask our neighbors of another ethnicity if we are actually showing them love and not hatred. We don't want to ask ourselves if we are adult enough to have the freedoms we have. Politicians on both sides push all-or-nothing agendas that leave nothing done, nothing for indigenous peoples, nothing for students, nothing for the poor, nothing for the foreigner, and nothing for the citizens. Life is "supposed to be" easy, natural-feeling, smooth sailing. When it gets hard, it's much more satisfying to turn the ship around and go back to harbor, go back to the same old church, go back to the same old friends, go back to the same old racism, go back to the same old arguments, the comfortable sweaters of discord we throw on each other in the full knowledge that nothing will change. Nuance is avoided, because nuance requires compassion, and compassion is hard. The other side is vilified. We whitewash the selfishness and bury ourselves alive inside.
Then, there's doing the right thing, sailing forward, braving the storm, looking beyond what has been true in the past, what season may be ending, what person we wanted to be, and going forward. It's hard, it's brutal, and if you're Jesus Christ, it kills you in the end. If you are a Christian and you are looking for a life that feels like smooth sailing, you should perhaps wonder what Christ you are imagining you are going to be like. Christ resurrected. That is the great hope of our season. He also stayed the course, all the way to the cross, without so much as a blow back at his enemies. And He died. And that is the part of the story we so easily gloss over, the part where we die. The cross we are to carry is not an accessory.
So when we are faced with the questions of the nation, or of the neighborhood, the question becomes rather simple: how can I love? The answer is also, almost always, rather simple. What is hard is implementing it. I don't want to die to who I am. I just don't. I like me with all of my failures and all of my excuses. I like my addictions. They are comfortable. I very much enjoy my sins. There is a reason I am tempted to them. There is a reason that I have a chain of people who I know I can call on when doing the right thing is too big for me: it's because deep down, I don't want to, and I have to die to that.
And then, the question becomes, what, really, do I want to see happen? Do I want to see more people alive, and loved, and safe? If I do, maybe some kinds of bans are never going to be effective unless I am prioritizing the saving of lives over the prevention of death. Maybe the things I believed were God-Given rights were in fact lies of the Enemy. After all, as a Christian, I don't even have a right to my own life. Maybe, just maybe, my whole country that I was raised to believe is blessed of God is in fact, in ways and places and times, blessed by quite another power, one that rewards lying to and then killing native peoples, destroying the land, and enslaving the children of God to, quite literally, wear more comfortable clothing without paying the price. Living with the mistakes of the past as an uncomfortable itch in the back of my conscience is easy, compared to bringing it to the light. Siding against homeland isn't easy, unless I remember that my country is not my homeland. I will not, in this lifetime, in this body so that betrays me so deeply and often, be at home. I need to stop asking America to be a place that it was never going to be, that it never could be, and that I promised I would not let it become the day I became a daughter of God.
I don't have to want this to be true. I don't have to like it. I am allowed to ask God why He asked me to do what he did. I am allowed to scream it, publicly, that I feel betrayed by Him, that there is no answer presenting itself besides the hard one. And yet, always "and yet," I am to do it in the midst of the part I don' like, the part where I die, whether in the body or to myself, in the grand hope that I will be resurrected, and that through that death others might also learn to live.