From Bystander Silence to Claiming our Voices

Last night, Javen and I joined members of my church to see a church youth (pictured) perform in the Edina High School production of MEAN, a musical about bullying. The show emphasizes that people can find every reason to pick on one another (reading ability, headscarves, weight, sexual orientation, etc), and the consequences can be deadly. It struck me as relevant for people of all ages, since our society has become toxic in its displays of intolerance, partisan taunting, and bitter division. Yesterday afternoon, for example, Javen and I joined others from our congregations at an interfaith solidarity response at Dar Al farooq Islamic Center, after Muslims in Minnesota were slammed for “infiltration” simply because they were learning how to caucus. Bullying happens long after teens leave their high school cafeterias.

The closing number of MEAN calls on the audience to “stand up”, to speak out for one another, and to learn from differences among people. This is what Jesus demonstrates too, as he learns from a Samaritan woman, and defends a woman caught in adultery, among other acts of mercy. We as Christians are likewise called from bystander silence to active engagement in shaping a world that reflects “the joy of Christ’s love”. This coming Tuesday we have an opportunity to do just that in the Minnesota caucus process, claiming our faithful voices in defending the vulnerable, resisting political scapegoating, and calling for another way. If you’re in Minnesota, I hope you’re planning to caucus at 7pm on Tuesday night. If you’ve never been to one, you can learn what happens at a caucus, figure out which party in Minnesota best supports your values (of the many listed here), and find your caucus location here. You might also consider the unified, non-partisan Faith Agenda put together by people of faith through ISAIAH, and add your name as a supportive caucus-goer if this fits your vision for Minnesota. Together we can express a faithful, joyful, hopeful vision of the future, rather than resigning ourselves to bystander silence in this moment for our communities.

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