In Age of Trump, Silence Is the Worst Thing and Love Is the Hardest

Deformed faith, deforming fear, the power of fools -- these things may be the end of us. The noise of hell has begun on all sides, posted, going live, updated, tweeted. Our pathetic imagined apocalypse, our ironic greatness, our latter days: it's arrived, it's finally here. By executive order: children, grandmothers detained in airports. Let's hear it for the lawyers! But it's more than that, more unsettling. It's an executive order argued over by politicians and pundits and Facebook friends who know what's up, but that's not what I'm talking about. It's the foreboding form, the ethos, the aesthetics of the thing, the new character of it that frightens me.Forgive my poetry, but it's all I've got at the moment. Hyperbole, but is it? This, a new dark age when really silence is the worst thing and love the hardest. Our undoing is our own doing; we praise one God yet obey another, frightened into a false faith, our downfall, our plain hatred, our plain stupidity. Again, forgive my poetry, but it's all I've got.Faith deformed: Christians now speak of security instead of charity, safety instead of the risk of love, "Americans" instead of the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. The good Samaritan, God's love of the stranger, our father as a wandering Aramean we've forgotten. The fact that once we were no people; that God loved us when we had no right to it; that God put himself at risk and died for that love; that he commands us to care for widow and orphan or else risk his wrath; all of this we've forgotten or otherwise allegorized to suit our politics. Our national idolatry, our mockery of God's universal love, all barely hidden under very cheap praise, stirred up by so many false and very powerful prophets. (But they will one day meet God.)Not that we were ever a Christian country, more a country of so many heretics, scourging our Christ with our new national hatreds, scourging him in the least of these, in the Christ hidden in both migrant and Muslim.Our fear deforms us. It catches our eye, our clicks. Fear is profitable and marketable; it's why we buy everything from groceries to guns. Afraid of it, we'll pay for it. But at a greater cost: this new dark culture of fear, this new heavy atmosphere of suspicion. Common sense be damned, fear forgives every injustice. Hardly the home of the brave, now mostly frightened and mostly because of what we've watched on screens. We cannot fear and be free. And we've chosen fear, and we can't have it both ways.This again is but part of our demise. But not that we've evolved much, as our unwashed history tells. We've detained and imprisoned before like this, just like this; and with the same cool reasoning, the same justification, the same silence. Fear and then more fear, social then personal, as so few of us speak out, so few raise our voice. My fear, your fear, our fear -- that's how it happens, how it's happening.That's the power of fools: strange and unstable, like a twit bluffing his way through a job interview. He got the job, and now it's going as you would imagine, frighteningly horrible. But behind the buffoonery is real danger, real risk, real bigotry (thy name is Bannon). Power is playing upon our fears and false faith. A conspiracy? Doubtful. Just pathetic and full of it, like your loudmouth uncle at Thanksgiving. But now your uncle's got an executive branch and nuclear codes, and he hasn't sobered up. Millions of us voted for him because of fear and hatred and twisted faith. And it may be the end of us, our pathetic ironic end, our defeat as we sing our greatness. Bitter and blind to the very end.But where is hope? Where in this noisy darkness is it? In a question, an ancient question, a question we should ask ourselves again: "Who is my neighbor?" It's a question that for some of us is also a command, like unto our command to love the God we say we believe in. Who is my neighbor? It implies an ethics, an ethics we've erased by hatred, by the wrong sort of nationalism, by talk of "law and order," by a president who doesn't know what he's doing.Who is my neighbor? It's a simple question, not to be muddled by politics. And it's the only way forward for humanity and hope, the only way this lamentation can become joy and not the dirge of our end. Who is my neighbor? It's the only question to save us from this nonsense darkness that has made so many of us fools. Joshua J. Whitfield is pastoral administrator for St. Rita Catholic Community in Dallas and a frequent columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Email:  Continue reading...

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