Tag Archives: neutrality

forging bridges of empathy


Sara Nović, author of Girl at War

“Writing is always a political act, but I expect that will become even more explicit in light of the Trump administration-to-be’s well-documented animosity toward the academy and journalistic practice. Now, more than ever, writing and art is critical for its capacity to educate, transport, and forge bridges of empathy. But we are beyond business-as-usual, and art alone is not enough to induce the mass cultural and political change this country now needs. Writers must now use any public voice we have to push that change forward and be on the front lines in protecting and amplifying the voices of vulnerable populations. Elie Wiesel said it best, I think: ‘Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim … Sometimes we must interfere.’”

As I continue to grapple with the present reality I am encouraged knowing that we have the power to speak out and make our voices heard. We have an awesome responsibility, a moral responsibility, to make sure we “forge bridges of empathy” with those most vulnerable under the new leadership of our country.

As I wrote in an earlier post this week, “Those of us who live in love have to take sides. We have to speak out against every hate crime we see, and we must, likewise, take every opportunity to prevent hate crimes from occurring. Silence on this issue is not an option.”

we must take sides

I am alarmed  that the number of documented hate crimes has risen dramatically since the election of President-elect Donald Trump. This isn’t just a coincidence.

Our newly elected President’s ugly rhetoric, and viperous verbal attacks on our nation’s marginalized have encouraged many of his followers to act out their own hatred of those they they fear and those with whom they do not agree or understand.  This cannot be allowed to continue.

Those of us who live in love have to take sides. We have to speak out against every hate crime we see, and we must, likewise, take every opportunity to prevent hate crimes from occurring. Silence on this issue is not an option.

We must take sides. We must stand with those being oppressed. And we must speak out against anyone (including the President, or any other leader), who engages in or promotes hate crimes, either verbal or physical. There is no neutral ground on this issue.

Silence in the face of hate crimes is acquiescence. And I, for one, will not stand in silence in the face of intolerance and hatred.

We must take sides. I am standing on the side of the victims. Whose side are you on?


“We must always take sides.”

As I have said before, sometimes silence isn’t golden. Sometimes remaining silence is just plain yellow. Allowing others to be humiliated without speaking up and coming to their defense cannot be justified. If we see suffering and do not act to defend those being oppressed we become as responsible, as guilty, as the oppressors.


on elephants and mice

What side are you on? There is no middle.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it quite plainly. He stated it both forcefully and succinctly.

“If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has his foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

And this is really at the heart of the matter, isn’t it? Where do we stand? What side are we on when it comes to the issue of justice for all?

We live in a world unbelievably blessed, a world with enough food for every one of our human family. Justice demands that all of us have access to those life-sustaining resources. The fact that over a billion people on the planet live in extreme poverty without access to sufficient food is morally unacceptable.

Knowing that we live in a world where injustice holds a billion of our family hostage to hunger demands action. And that demand for action brings us back to that original question.  What side are we on?

We can say we are neutral if we want. But, as the good Archbishop has pointed out, that clearly places us with those who are the oppressors. That’s not where I want to be. We have to make that elephant move.

I am on the side of the poor and hungry. There’s enough food for all of us. Isn’t it time that we learn to share? Isn’t it time that we start living more faithfully, and actually start practicing a lifestyle more reflective of God’s love and care for all of creation?

Lent is just around the corner. I, for one, think that will be a perfect time to take some positive steps toward living more justly. Maybe if I deny myself just a little I will have a little more I can share with those who need it far more than I do. At least then I can demonstrate a little more clearly that I am trying to get that damned elephant to move his foot.