Saturday, April 01, 2017

Lent: Darkness

I've seen darkness. I stood across the street from it once, the day it came to my city. It stood across the street from us, carried ugly signs that said things like "Rabbis rape kids" and "God hates fags," and it sang.

Other times I've felt the darkness. On 9-11 it was terrifying. I woke up at 10 am. after a late night in the news room, and rumors were flying. Planes had hit the Twin Towers and a spot in Pennsylvania. My neighbor told me that there a dozen more planes in the air, and the Air Force had been ordered to shoot them down. No one knew where the president was. No one knew what was going to happen next.

I saw the face of unfathomable darkness on Dec. 14, 2012. That was when Adam Lanza gunned down 20 students and their teachers in Newtown, Conn.

Lately it seems that darkness has been growing bolder. A man was arrested in New York this week after traveling there specifically to kill black people.

A 12-year-old girl a few days ago saw her father arrested by ICE officers who intend to deport him, not because of a felony but because he is in the country without documentation. The U.S. Congress signed away our privacy on the Internet to help line the pockets of cable Internet providers.

The national GOP has announced its intent to continue its quest to remove insurance protection for Americans.

The president and his family have disregarded every ethics rule and expectation that they can, and seem intent on looting the country for as long as they can, and all the while his chief adviser is an avowed white nationalist.

The darkness is heavy, but darkness is dispelled by light.

When Westboro Baptist Church came to my city on October 28, 2009, I stood there with my oldest daughter for as long as their rally lasted.

I was there because I have gay friends, and I cannot allow homophobia to go unchallenged.

I was there because I have transgender friends, and I cannot allow transphobia to go unchallenged.

I was there because I have Jewish friends, and I cannot allow anti-Semitism to go unchallenged.

I was there because I have black friends, and I cannot allow racism to go unchallenged.

I was there because I am human, and I cannot allow hatred to go unchallenged.

I was there because I am a father, and I need my children to understand that while we cannot stop people from doing evil things, we can stand up against them and identify with the people they hate. It's never enough just to attend a counterdemonstration. We can stand in the way with our words, with our voices, with our friendship and even with our bodies.

It doesn't matter what the politicians say, what the crowds say, or what the people with the badges say. When the darkness moves in, it's our job to hold up a candle and chase it back.

"The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Copyright © 2017 by David Learn. Used with permission.

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