Like many of us, I was raised with the admonition, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” So I have been silent in this venue for a bit. Being silent, however, can sometimes be construed as giving silent agreement to words or actions that may be unjust, harmful, or demeaning. How do we navigate this divisive time in our world when it seems that it is now okay to say anything about anyone whether or not it is true, helpful, or insightful?
This week I saw a video of Lady Gaga who, I am learning, speaks and acts from a deep center of faith and commitment to justice. Along with the Dalai Lama, she talked of how important it is for us to be “relentlessly kind.” Instead of “pointing fingers at where we think the bad guys are,” we need to forget the labels and act out of our common humanity with kindness. This is not the same thing as allowing injustice or hatred to go unchallenged. It does mean to remember that we are all children of God whether we agree or not. As Willimon writes in Fear of the Other, “The Other may be regarded by us as Other, but is never an Other to God. The Other may be an enemy to the United States, but God is not an enemy to the Other. The Other may hate us or God, but God loves the Other.”
Where and how can I act with relentless kindness today, tomorrow, and every day henceforth?
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?