“Do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed” – Leviticus 19:16
There are people all over this planet dying this second. From starvation, disease, war, genocide, murder, crime, and senseless acts of violence. But here we are. Fighting about the Confederate Flag or suddenly becoming a Constitutional Law expert on the latest thing out of Washington.
After the Holocaust and the end of World War 2, the world cried out as one saying “Never again!” After the Rwandan Genocide, the world cried “Never again!” All the history classes I ever sat through went through great pains to emblazoned on my brain the phrase, “Never Again!”
But…I’m afraid, at least for myself, that it’s really simple to chant a slogan to salve our conscience about past atrocities…meanwhile we ignore an equally horrific one unfolding now, on our watch.
As ISIS advances across the Middle-East, they bring with them a wake of bodies behind them.Over 200,000 people have been murdered in Iraq and Syria, mostly Christians and Shite Muslims. Nearly 1 million Christians have fled their homes and now live as refugees from these countries.
Homosexuals are being thrown off the roofs and stoned to death. Babies are being decapitated, mothers are flayed alive, and fathers are forced to watch and then are executed.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise again in Europe – the likes of which we’ve not seen since World War 2. Jewish people are being harassed, killed, and tortured in Europe. Actually, French Jews are beginning to flee the country.
Every day we see YouTube videos that show a bunch of people standing around while someone is raped, murdered, beaten, or harassed…and all we can do is stand around and watch. It’s like I’m in the Twilight Zone.
I could go on…but I have to ask, “Why?”
It is because we’ve forgotten life. We’ve forgotten the sacredness of life as we build our individual and collective personal Towers of Babel as monuments to our luxury and self-aggrandizement. We are the walking dead who stare at screens when we’re not sleeping and even wake up to make sure we haven’t missed anything on Facebook. We go about our lives pretending that in our little bubble it’s all rainbows and skittles, all the while we ignore the massive majority of humanity dying on our doorstep.
Martin Luther King Jr. said,
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
And so let us be put on notice that justice is threatened.
Justice is threatened because we don’t value life. Justice threatened because the “it’s okay as long as it doesn’t affect me” mentality reigns in our hearts. Justice is threatened because we are consumed with our dreams, our rights, and our ambitions. Justice is threatened because racism is still alive and well in America and the world. Justice is still threatened while evil marches across the Middle-East and devours the lives of hundreds of thousands, and here we sit live tweeting about the Bachelorette.
We have forgotten life. Life matters. That lives matter (#livesmatter?) and that every human being should be afforded the dignity that they were given by God to be treated equally and fairly. That no one should stand by filming while people are ripped from their homes at gunpoint; while students are gunned down in schools; while someone is beaten on a busy street; and while people silently starve to death in some country we don’t even know about. That we have stood by and aborted more children in America than Twelve Holocausts combined! That we rename life as a “fetus” or a “zygote” or “Fetal material” to make it okay to snuff out a life.
But here we are, in the greatest nation on earth; the most blessed place in history…and we have forgotten about life.
So you can continue to stand around and wave your flags (or fight over them), thank God for all you have…and you can forget about them…You can sit around and remember to say grace as you polish off your second helping. You can give platitudes and sincere-sounding answers saying, “Oh we’ll pray” but I bet you won’t want to make their burdens yours. You’ll pray for their struggle, but you don’t want to make it yours.
Why? Because the more you take the less you have, the more you have the less you care, and the less you care the more you become blissfully unaware.
May God forgive us as we sweep this all under the rug and put it out of sight and leave our mess for someone else to clean up.
That ends for me – right now. I will not stand by idly as my neighbor’s blood is shed. I will not sit quietly when someone is marginalized for the color of their skin or their religion. I will not be quiet anymore. I will stand.
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
May God forgive His church for lazily bickering amongst ourselves while the world we were tasked with healing bleeds out in the foyer of our million dollar buildings, and we drown it out by singing louder.
Never again starts now. But I will not fight the way I am expected. I will not use my body or mind for violence. I will not trod the path of Cain or Caesar. I will not serve the Empire, but the Kingdom of God. I will non-violently stand up for life and dignity. I will fight not with guns, bombs, and propaganda, but with love and justice, mercy and compassion, hope, and prayer…and I’ve read the end world history…and I know one thing: love conquers and justice reigns.
Never again starts now.