One can only take so much….
as in…we have been here before…and now we are just stuck here.
You know what I mean, Rosanne, Bill Maher, the fight over who can say what about who, the question, if it is unacceptable for one person to call someone an ape, then why is it acceptable for someone else on the other side of the spectrum. Of course, I am referring to the Rosanne Barr tweet that dominated the airwaves while border patrol agents separated children from their parents and air ambulance companies forced families into bankrupcy because the recent changes in the healthcare system have meant that some insurance companies do not consider these “necessary services” as they once did. Or while white women call the police on black families enjoying a quiet grill-out in their local bay-area park or a on a black college student sleeping in a dorm common area. At the same time some are attacking teenagers who I have no doubt really want the security of being able to show up to school without the concern that they will not be coming home.
Honestly, I do not know how we keep track of all of it, and to be honest, we really cannot. if we tried we might drive ourselves to lunacy. We are so distracted by all the things happening around, another kid shot by the cops, another school shooting, another this, another that. All the while we stand on opposite sides of a picket line and yell at each other thinking that somehow if we out yell one another we have somehow won and what we want will happen. The incoherent babble of both sides, the noise, is enough to make you cover your ears. People are not even shouting talking points at each other.
It kind of reminds me of road trips with my siblings, you know, someone does something that you do not like and then the fight escalates and then turns into “stop” and “don’t kick me” and then just shouting “you’re stupid” which obligates the reply of “No, YOU’RE stupid.” Except instead of using the term “Stupid” we are throwing much more terrifying and yes, evil, names at one another. Or we weaponize what were once qualifiers, like “white’ or ‘male’ similar to how southern whites used the term ‘black” and ‘colored’ and *insert word I refuse to say* during the Jim Crow era. Meanwhile acting as though this sort of barbarism makes us somehow more enlightened than the people on the other side of the picket line.
And yes, both sides are doing this and both sides are doing it well….too well…
I imagine, one day, sitting down with my son as we talk about history and he asks me, “dad, why were people so mean to each other.” and I will say; “well son, when you can take away someones status as a human, what we call dehumanizing, it is easy for you to not listen to what they have to say, it is easy for you to ignore, belittle and use words and actions to destroy them, then it is to consider them valid and human.”
One of my mentors talks all the time about how we are to be “human and Humane.” As in, we must look at one another not as objects in the way full of untruth or as something “less evolved” but as humans who are made in the image of GOD and worthy of respect, honor and dignity and, dare I say, the chance to flourish.
Lately I have taken to referring to myself as the Last Conservative, just like George W. Bush and his dad are sometimes referred to as “the last republicans.” What I mean by this is that there are times I feel that, in the circles I am in, traditional, conservative circles, there are times I feel I am the only one actually speaking for the conservation of life on all levels. I know I am not, and that this is not a “Me against them” type work, but conservatism, hijacked, yes, hijacked by Reagan has now fully ceased to conserve anything in relation to humanity despite crying out for the preservation of philosophical rights. The modern conservative party is not interested in conserving humanity, for that matter, neither is the democratic party. Both sides have become so corrupt it is astounding. Both sides spend more time dehumanizing each other and trying to block president Trump or formerly president Obama, or the other party or whomver they want to silence now, that they are willing to go to whatever lengths neccesary to do that. All of this starts as we continue, after 300 years, to fail to define what a human being actually is and so, we can dehumanize anyone because our subjective standards of what makes a human have to rule the day.
The funny thing is, this is a game Christians should not play and never should have played. After all, we are swimming in the soup that our politically minded ancestors gave us. As in, from the founding of the world there have been those who look down on another for skin color, ability/disability, look, eye color, which hand is used etc. The west has been particularly nasty about this through the implementation of what is called the Discovery Doctrine which came out of Spain during the discovery period of the high middle ages. A doctrine that said, against scripture, that if you come to a native people and they will not accept a forced conversion, then you should wipe them out. The same doctrine was the driving force behind the slave trade, since Africa was “discovered” and people there needed “civilization.” Ironically, Christianity in the west receives most of its theological tradition from Africa and the Ethiopian Coptic Church is the oldest church in the world.
I guess I can’t help but think about the lessons I learned growing up, learning that I was no better than the janitor or the CEO while being bullied and being told to “kill myself” by my peers. So when I look at the news sites and hear the discourse of the left and the right and hear that the suicide rate is skyrocketing and all the things that have been on the news lately from Rosanne Barr to the vitriol permeating the SBC to the way we still talk about those who come from other ethnic backgrounds (which includes all whites too by the way) I can’t help but think of the pain that those who are experiencing this hatred and vitriol and being forced to endure hate-speech and persecution and even death in the name of ‘being right’ (that includes those “Basket of Deplorable s” that Hollywood, Presidential Candidates and political party leaders on both sides keep deriding and insulting while doing nothing to step the opiate crisis and rampant poverty that have brought some into conditions similar to the third world in some places.)
I am angry about all these things and so much more. All of this infuriates me, especially since we want to talk about the rise in suicides but do not want to change the public discourse and genuine meanness and all around primitivism that has led to its rise because it has spurred depression. This isn’t even just those pesky “evangelicals” you hear so much about on the news, everyone is doing this, everyone is dehumanizing each other and the increase in depression and suicide is a part of this terminal illness. Yes, I am angry, but I want to use that anger to make a change in this world, not continue to make it worse.
So in my anger I send out a new rallying call, #EndDehumanization, it is time. If you are not a Christian, let’s define a human as anyone who comes from or who is coming forth from another human all the way through that persons legacy. Let’s look at the color of a persons skin as a chance to learn about them and culture they came from and honor them as people who live unique lives, are worthy of protection, having basic needs met through working together to make sure that we all flourish as human beings. From conception to death.
As Christians, this means accepting that all humans, yes, all humans are made in the image of God and because of that they should be treated as such, which includes everything in the paragraph above and everything contained in scripture for the living of two or more humans on this planet.
Let’s care for the widow, the orphan, the refugee and you and let’s ultimately #EndDhumanization for the sake of living. It is time for us to start treating one another as humans, and be humane. I long for the day when we stop just screaming at each other and sit down and talk across the table in peace. That day may be very far off, beyond my lifetime, and to some it may seem like wishful thinking, they may be right, but I am going to fight for this in the way I treat everyone so that those around me have a chance to know they are human and worthy of dignity and honor. I’m tired of the game of Dehumanization, I refuse to play.
Jonathan David Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel in the North Shore of Boston and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church.