And So Are They
[Disclaimer: This is not a political post. One of my rules for this space is to avoid politics. I have a great variety of friends and acquaintances. My goal has been to pull together and lift up rather than pull divide and put down.]
Yesterday, I ventured to the big city of Sturgeon Bay. Land of traffic lights and pedestrians. I believe the ancient Potawatomi for name for Sturgeon Bay means something like ‘three bridges and a Culver’s’. For the universality of precautions, it surprised me how many people walked and shopped and talked with no masks and little concern of the danger of these days.
I have not always been one to follow the rules. In 9th grade I was reprimanded for chewing gum. The punishment was to write a 500-word essay. I wrote my essay on the injustice of not being able to chew gum at school, for which I was awarded three days in detention. This did not deter me from chewing gum at school. It made me smarter about breaking the rules [which is not a good skill to have as a teenager.] [or an adult.]
I understand people have the choice to wear a mask—or not—in public. I have seen the wisdom, “I wear a mask to protect you; you wear a mask to protect me.” I understand this as goldenesque rule…treat other as you want them to treat you (or better). Even if you don’t worry about yourself, consider the other. If it is not a rule to wear a mask, it is at least a conscientious effort to limit the spread of the virus.
This picture shows Vice President Mike Pence visiting the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday maskless. I will not judge Mr. Pence’s choice. I will judge the choice of the other thirteen people in the photo who said nothing. They all had an obligation to say something, to say anything. We can take issue with Mr. Pence’s choice. I have a bigger issue with those who remained silent (and also ignored distancing measures while not being properly PPE’d).
I find it hard to know when to speak up and when to keep our mouths shut. I know people fatally flawed in their ability to remain silent and at peace in the face of conflict. I know people fatally flawed in their inability to keep their mouths shut in the face of conflict. Truth be told, I have great respect for the first group, but have a lot more fun with the second.
How do we speak the truth these days? How do we hold our truth without trampling someone else’s truth? Truth needs not be mutually exclusive, either/or antagonism. I believe that Truth is big enough for us each to have a part without being able to see the whole thing.
In our now interrupted confirmation class, I used “Old Turtle and the Broken Truth” by Douglas Wood to tell the story of the Church. In the book, the people found a piece of the truth which said, “You are loved…” The people and the whole creation fought over this piece of truth. In the story, a girl departs on a quest to find the Old Turtle for answers and the hope of a better way. Turtle returns the girl to her people with the other part of the truth, “And so are they.”
These are not two alternating truths; they are two parts of one truth. You are loved; and so are they. I believe passionately in this truth. I have devoted my life to it. I have great hope in the fulfillment of this truth.
For some reason, when we need it most, this truth evades us. So, for today, let’s remember the truth that we are loved unconditionally AND the truth that so are they. Let that truth guide our steps, alter (or altar) our lives, and define who we are and who we want to be. And if need be, say, “Hey Mike, you forgot your mask. I have one for you right here.”
I love you.
[I need you.]
I hope for you.
Please be safe.