It’s not that words have failed me. It’s just that silence seems a more fitting response to the news that has bombarded us, all of us, over the past several weeks.
Outrage is our go-to response. I confess that it has been too often mine, and I repent for it. I hope you will forgive me for the countless times when I’ve turned to outrage when I simply should have shut-up and chosen silence instead.
We are masters at outrage in this culture of ours. There is very little that we don’t get outraged about these days. And, yes, I agree, the outrage is often preceded by some horrific thing that makes us deservedly upset.
The situation in Iraq. In Gaza. In Ferguson, Missouri of all places.
Injustices abound all around us.
And should we be silent in the face of such glaring evils? Every fiber of my being says no. Evil prevails when good men and women say nothing. Those of you who have read this blog long enough know that I am the flag-bearing Queen of outrage against wrong-doings. I have written so much commentary about the evils of war, about the inhumanity of child abuse, about the injustices perpetrated upon the marginalized. And I’m not sorry for speaking out. Nor do I think you should be. We need to speak in unison about inhumanity in every situation in which we encounter it.
But it’s the outrage that has me stupefied. This notion that the way one ought to go about righting injustices, wherever one finds them, is through the use of more violence and more outrage. It’s as if there is some moral justification for hatred and ugliness in the face of hatred and ugliness that seems to drive us, compel us.
We are still getting it wrong, don’t you see?
If the thing that drives us to speak out against wrongdoing is our anger and outrage, we are only dousing the fire with gasoline.
And, yes, I am guilty, so very guilty of that.
So for now, I sit by quietly, so very saddened by the events in Ferguson and Iraq and Gaza, and the suicide of a man who made me laugh when I so badly needed to laugh.
And it’s not you I am holding the mirror up to, but me.
I was wrong not to have done better by you. I didn’t use my words more carefully. I haven’t encouraged you enough towards peace and forgiveness and prayer. I have failed to be a good steward of the gift God gave me. I’m disappointed with myself over that.
You don’t need another writer working you all up into a slather over this wrongdoing or that. You need a writer who can come alongside you and weep when you are weeping and laugh when you are laughing, and most of all encourage you to put your head into the wind and press on.
It’s not that we should ignore the events in Ferguson, or Iraq, or Gaza. That’s not what I’m saying. Of course, we can and must talk about them. But we should do so in ways that makes us all walk away from the conversation equipped to do better.
It’s not outrage we need.
Until we become a people compelled by compassion, and not fueled by rage, we can’t possibly do better by one another.
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain.