Posts Tagged ‘bullying’

A Time for Silence and a Time to Speak

October 8, 2016

This is one of those blogs, it has been a long time since and a long time coming, that I write for my own peace of mind and therapy. When I find myself wrestling and pondering life, faith, and journey, I write, it is how I process.

I have been relatively silent for some time now regarding many things in our world, nation, and church. Part of that silence has been intentional. A portion of that silence can be attributed to my focusing more on my leadership and work at the church. A portion of that silence is linked to my school work and the need to focus on my academics. And, if I am entirely honest, a good portion of the silence is mental and emotional exhaustion regarding my work, activity, thought, and considering social justice and the state of our world, nation, and church.

The level of discord, hatred, bigotry, injustice, disconnectedness, and division is just overwhelming if one spends time considering all that is going on around us. I am confident I am not alone in this overloaded boat that can seem, at times, to be drifting toward a treacherous waterfall.

I had the incredible gift and opportunity to escape from it all a week ago. TruDee and I drove to Colorado and stayed in the mountains for a week. We spent time driving through the beauty of the changing colors of the Aspen trees. We drove and witnessed the majestic elk in Estes Park and listened to them bugle in the midst of their mating season. We ate too much wonderful food, we napped, read, sat together, and reconnected with dear friends over breakfast and coffee. It was a much needed retreat to reassess, rethink, relax, and renew my sense of direction and purpose. My heart, soul, and mind are full, my cup is full and re-energized.

My time away reaffirmed my commitment to my continued passion for social justice in our political system both civic and religious. As I consider our current political atmosphere I have been pretty much silent in regards to the presidential race, in part for the reasons listed above, but also because of my commitment to separation of church and state. While I believe I am entitled to my opinion regarding politics and party, I do not want to breach that separation should anyone deem I would be supporting a candidate by virtue of my position in the pulpit and church.

All this being said, as a citizen, a pastor, a husband, father, and grandfather of two incredible granddaughters I cannot keep silent any longer. The following pondering, statements, and words are not as a representative of the church I serve, nor is it to be considered as any kind of directive for those I serve. This. Is. Just. Me.

As I have watched the political campaign unfold over the many months it speaks deep to my overwhelmed-ness of thought, spirit, and emotion. Whether it is the instant information age in which we live or whether this has gone on since the beginning of our nation, I know it is both and, it certainly feels more prevalent now to me than any time before. The level of bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, ignorance, bullying, and hatred filling the airwaves, the news sites, and the internet feels like a tsunami of social injustice to one whose passion is working to end injustice in the world.

It was clarified for me today as I lay on a fishing dock listening to a meditation entitled Finding Clarity and Letting Go. This overwhelmed feeling I have been caught in stems from all of the isms, phobias, and vitriol language that has been permeating not only what I read and hear, but the very heart of who and what I am.

In the most recent release of comments made by Donald Trump I find myself angry and enraged at his continued misogynistic posture and these comments that demean women and are in and of themselves assaulting and descriptive of who he is and how he thinks. I would have to say, watching his campaign, unfortunately I was not surprised by what I heard, and it is a pattern we have seen since the beginning of his candidacy. As a husband, brother to a sister, father-in-law, and a grandfather of two granddaughters, the thought of having this person, with these views and practices, as president of our country is beyond me, I simply have no words other than horrified disbelief that it could even be considered.

It became clear to me today this candidate is, in some sense the encapsulation of so much of what is wrong with our country and world, a culmination of all the phobias, isms, bullying, incivility, anger, arrogance, and ignorance, and social injustice of which I long to eradicate in our world. It breaks my heart that there are so many in our country who believe he is the right person for the highest office in our land.

While I identify my disdain for this one, I also call myself into check in terms of my ability to remain engaged in the process and conversation with others. This candidacy also encapsulates what I see as a growing trend in our country both in politics of country and even the church. A trend that is a, my way or the highway mentality. It is a trend that is more concerned with being right than compassionate, it is a trend that has an insatiable need to be right and the other wrong, and to be right at another’s expense.

While I do believe this in the very core of who I am, there are times when I am moved to say simply, “No, you’re wrong,” in this case, “No, Mr. Trump, you’re wrong.” But being wrong or believing one is right does not dismiss one from the work of remaining connected and engaged in the process of bringing about justice and resolution.

Pondering my recent leadership courses in my doctoral work I would say this kind of speaking out and engaging is part of appropriate leadership whether one is working in the halls of government or in the halls of the church. Leadership is always risky, willingness to say the difficult thing, point out the injustice, make decisions and comments that may or may not be popular, but remaining engaged is part of the process. Some will be willing to remain engaged and lead alongside for the common good of all and some will not choosing to isolate and disengage themselves from the ongoing conversation and work.

I know there are those out there who will disagree with me. I know I have friends and family who will disagree with me as well. But I believe it is possible to disagree and still remain respectful and in loving relationship.

Surely our country, our churches, our communities and lives are better than a life and faith driven by hatred, distrust, and fear. Surely we can hear the clarion call of our for-bearers, complete with clay feet of their own and wrong in their own areas and thinking, who put forth the notion that all persons are created equal, regardless of gender, race, orientation or identity, national origin, religion or lack thereof, all persons. We are all in this together and we will either learn to live together as brothers [and sisters], or we will perish together as fools. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

I pray for together. I pray for Mr. Trump. I pray for our country. I pray for all of us. But prayer is not enough, prayer is nothing if it is not a precursor for action. Pray and pray we must, but stand and speak, stand and act, until all are welcome, appreciated, respected, transformed, educated, and loved.

May it be so. May it be soon.

Rev. Kent H. Little


CHUM Making it Better

October 26, 2010

   I remember having to deal with the playground bully growing up. All too often it is a common experience among us. There are all kinds of bullying; physical, emotional, and mental. There is no age limit on the bullied or the bully, children do it to children, adults do it to children, and adults do it to other adults.
   There are all kinds of reasons our children and adults are targets of being bullied; sexual orientation, religion, race, social status, age, appearance, and the list could go on and on. Sometimes I think bullies do not really need a reason they just come up with something on their own that makes for a good target.
   In recent weeks our lives have been filled with news of the suicides of numerous teens who were obviously bullied to the point of hopeless despair. I recently preached on the topic and invited persons to share with me their stories. I have to say as I read stories, through my own tears, from my gay, lesbian, as well as straight friends about the horrors and abuse they endured, it was perhaps the most difficult sermon preparation reading I have ever done.
   I have watched videos from around our nation of people speaking up with encouraging words to say “It Gets Better.” I have read blogs of colleagues and friends who implore us all to tend to our words because “Our Words Matter.” It is a sign of hope and somehow some way we need to get the word out to all of our teens, and as the result of recent weeks, particularly our gay and lesbian teens that there is hope. We need to share with them there are safe havens they can go to be heard, loved, affirmed, and encouraged to be who they are without threat or fear.
   Here at College Hill United Methodist Church we have decided to do something about the issue. It is still in the beginning conversational stage but we believe it is time to stand up and speak a word of hope with our gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and trans-sexual community, as well as all persons who are bullied simply because of who they are and/or what they look like or believe. It is time for the madness to STOP!
   Here at the Hill there will be two opportunities to stand with our teens and those who are bullied in the near future. The first will be the week of November 14th through the 20th. This week is Bullying Awareness Week or Anti-Bullying Week. We encourage all of our members to invite others to be a part of raising awareness and standing up for justice and kindness during these days. There will be more information as the time grows closer.
   On December 6, 2010 at 6:30pm we will be having another Forum here at College Hill where we will bring resource persons in from various agencies to share with us their work in this area and how we can be a part of the solution to this epidemic in our schools and society. Please place this on your calendar and join us for this important gathering as we seek to be faithful voices for those whose very lives may be counting on a word of hope and grace.
   It is time once again for College Hill to be a Beacon of justice, kindness, and grace in our community and conference. The voice of The Progressive Church must be heard on this issue to show and encourage all persons that there are safe and sacred spaces for them to come and be heard, understood, and affirmed. Please join us in this critical outreach and message.
   For more information please feel free to contact me via email or the church office, and my door is always open. This is one more way we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table.
   Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.