I’m with Erin Boyle who said on her blog Reading My Tea Leaves, “I don’t like to write about gun violence, homophobia, or misguided politicians.” I too would much rather spend my days writing about the flowers Micah and I planted yesterday or how our four cats looked like Holsteins grazing in the grass in our backyard on a nearly perfect June evening. I wish all my days could be dedicated solely to the pursuit of beauty. But there are times when the world’s ugliness demands we do something lest the beauty of our world perish. In the church this is called the sin of ommision. Because there are times when not speaking out or standing up makes us complicit.
I don’t share this to point fingers (I’d surely have three fingers pointed back at me). As a pastor, I remained silent on matters that felt too political or controversial, afraid I might alienate parishioners and risk losing my job. I supported the church’s stance that living in community means we honor the beliefs of everyone in the congregation, even those that are different from our own. But I can’t make space anymore for everyone’s beliefs, certainly not those that are bigoted and seek to exlude people based on sexuality or race or religion. Yet, I continue to struggle with this since it means I am doing the very thing I reject: excluding people based on their beliefs. That’s the hardest part about speaking out or standing up for something, we inevitably pit ourselves against someone else (maybe even those dear to us).
I live in a state that allows for the open carry of guns. While at the barber, getting a haircut, Micah saw a man wearing a large cowboy hat and boots, carrying a handgun in a holster on his belt. This appalls me. I find much of Wyoming’s, and the United State’s, stance on guns to be reprehensible. And yet I love this place, too. I love Wyoming for it’s fierce protection of the rugged landscape and I love the United States for its fierce protection of individual freedom. My response to this kind of dissonance in the past was to simply do nothing. But I’m slowly learning that love includes healthy boundaries. Saying, “No,” is essential to any healthy, loving relationship (be it with a life partner or an institution). I can love my home state and my country and reject its (lack of) gun laws. I’m hoping that in finally doing something (however small) I won’t be left with the nagging feeling of guilt and inauthenticity from times past. I’m also hoping that through my own small acts of honesty and courage I’m helping to bring more beauty into the world.
Erin included in her article a link to a petition taking action on gun violence in America. I urge you to sign it with me.