Note: This post is an example of me enacting Assertive Spirituality. It is doing so about the recent zero tolerance US immigration policies. If you’re new to this site and want to know what Assertive Spirituality is, check out my part 1 and part 2 of the site’s definition posts. If you want to know what’s going on at the US border, please google major news outlets that fact-check their work and admit to errors when they accidentally commit them.
I’ve heard all of the defenses of current immigration gymnastics regarding the situation at the border, and frankly I’m over it.
Let Me Be Absolutely Clear.
If you claim to be Christian and are supporting the current administration’s acts regarding the weak and vulnerable and oppressed, including the immigration issue, you are supporting immoral acts.
Not Judging Your Identity or Final Resting Place, but Yes, Your Behavior!
Note: In saying this, I’m not judging you (under my interpretation of theology only God can do that, if God is in that business). I AM judging these acts you’re supporting, and judging your actions. I’m doing that using the metrics discussed regularly in the Bible. The Bible is unclear on a lot of things, but the whole supporting the stranger/oppressed/vulnerable issue is pretty clear. No grey areas about that.
So let me be crystal clear: If you are silent about these acts when you disagree, if your reason for taking a break isn’t to provide self- and/or other-care in a time of unreasonable stress for yourself and your loved ones or to get a contemplative distance from which to make reasonable decisions, you are taking on the side of the oppressor.
Why People Say that Neutrality/Moderation Is Complicit
If you are a “moderate” or “independent” in the US who is supporting this administration’s tortured explanations of their policies, you are enabling immoral human rights violations.
These are not “agree to disagree” issues.
There is no neutrality here. As the famous quote says, neutrality is enablement. Neutrality is complicity.
A Call for Change
Again, if you’re in any of these camps, this article is not a personal judgment but a call for those who have ears to hear to make a serious about face and change their behavior. I trust that you have every capability of making that change.
This article is making a statement about the consequences of these kinds of postures in hurting other human beings. Neutrality and defense of the current status quo alike are postures that in reality make your behavior complicit in these human rights violations.
Why Not “Christian Nice”?
These are questions of immoral behavior and supporting immoral behavior. They are toxic. (If you’re curious about how I arrived at this interpretation, please check out my article on the toxic sides of “Christian nice.” If you’re not a Christian but just “Midwest nice” or “civil society” nice, the same holds true—any act that suppresses this healthy exposure of gangrene is complicit in maintaining the hurtful disease causing it.)
Why Defense of “Civility” Is Cordial Hypocrisy
If you’re wasting the time of those who are trying to stick up for the rights of the oppressed when you are unlikely to be persuaded, please don’t pretend to make room for disagreement—to pretend you are being open to rational civil dialogue. That’s cordial hypocrisy.
If you are determined to persuade others of these things, go ahead, but be honest about it and know that you are enabling immoral acts by doing so. You are trying to whitewash tombs.
If you’re a Christian and you know your Bible, you already know Jesus had something highly uncomplimentary to say about whitewashing tombs. (If you don’t, spoiler: he was opposed to the whole tomb-whitewashing enterprise in no uncertain terms.)
Don’t Feel Bad If You’re Saving Up Your Strength or Doing Small Actions
Let me also be clear: This doesn’t mean that if you disagree and are taking actions offline to stay sane and help those around you do so that you are complicit. Self-care and other-care is important, and these are stressful times. Just please support those who are out there speaking up as well as possible, celebrate them when you can, please, and join us when you’re able.
This also doesn’t mean that if you’re using your sphere of influence in one area or through small actions to make change that you are complicit. That’s awesome—keep it up!
If You’re Tired or Burned Out, Just Don’t Displace, Please!
Just if you’re not able to join in the fight, please, please please don’t work against those of us who are out there trying to fight for reasonable solutions. That includes tone-policing or swear-policing those of us who are rightfully righteously angry about these things and working to channel it into informative, persuasive, and/or motivational words and helpful actions. Please don’t do that. It’s unhelpful.
No Tone-Policing, Please!
And please, it’s time to stop using that tired old blanket ban about not wanting to “be political.” If we’re getting in the way of putting out the fire and taking it out on you in major ways, please let us know. But please don’t tell us not to “be outraged” or “angry.” These forms of conflict avoidance are acts of incivility, in that they preserve your seemingly peaceful bubble at the expense of the vulnerable.
Stop Trying to Pretend the Country’s Not on Fire!
It’s time to really understand that it’s no longer normal to pretend that things are normal. It’s time to stop pretending that the country is not on fire, with vulnerable babies being covered with toxic stress gasoline that is already lighting them on fire. Fire that will scar them for the rest of their lives.
It’s no longer moral to pretend that listening both sides equally is the moral thing to do when we’re in such a state of emergency.
It no longer works to act as though the current administration is remotely trustworthy. It is not. People are not “unfair” in stating that fact.
A Glimpse of Why the Policies are Literally Hurting Children
To claim that both sides “have equal vitriol” is simply not true. The current policies of the right are unnecessarily traumatizing children for life. There’s lots of science that shows us that. I don’t say this because I’m being partisan, but because it’s a fact. As I’ll be explaining in Monday’s post, I know this is true because it lines up with EVERYTHING that is known in this area. Yes, medical science. Also psychological science. And sociological studies. And communication studies. And standard Christian theology. Standard moral ethics. International human rights law. ALL OF THESE THINGS tell us that these things cause harm. That they are immoral. They harm the body and psyche, sometimes for entire lifetimes.
These immigration policies are new, and they are hurting people. And even if they weren’t new or proposed by this administration I would be fighting them. Proposing that I’m being partisan by doing so is meant to be as an insult to me, but it’s really hurting the children and that’s why I resist it.
Pretending the Fire Isn’t There Is Gaslighting
Those defending the current immigration policies, and tax policies, and lots of other policies are not just enabling but actually joining a campaign of gaslighting, which is a technique used by authoritarians and domestic abusers alike since time began to try to convince people that what they know from their senses, corroborated by reasonable evidence, is not true. Doing so is not a good moral look on you.
It’s not morally neutral.
Again, Self-Care and Other-Care Is Good, But…
Hey, it’s stressful out there. Those of you that are exhausted, take breaks. But as you do so, please don’t displace your desires for peace on those of us in the trenches being assertive. And please don’t demand that we take action only through “adopting refugees into our homes” when the current immigration policies leave us none to adopt. If you don’t like the lack of peace, take a short break to recover, but then channel your frustrations into meaningful actions that lead to change. Vote. Donate to good things. Look for and celebrate the helpers. Encourage and motivate the helpers to keep helping. Persuade others who aren’t motivated to join and help.
So many good small actions we can all take to use our stress in productive ways to do our part to rise to the occasion.
We can do this together! Go team assertive spirituality!
- The Toxic Spirituality of “Christian (Midwest Middle Class White People) Nice”
- The Toxicity of “Christian Nice” Part 2: Some Tips to Counter Cordial Hypocrisy
- Swear-Policing Part 2/”Christian Nice” Part 3: The Robert DeNiro Vulgarity Case
- How “Christian Nice” Literally Makes Us Sick
- Christian Folk, Let’s Stand Up to Abuse!
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