God warned the people of an earthquake that would swallow all the waters of the land. The waters that would take their place would make everyone insane.
Only the prophet took God seriously. He carried huge jugs of water to his mountain cave so that he had enough to last him till the day he died.
Sure enough, the earthquake came and the waters vanished and new water filled the streams and lakes and rivers and ponds. A few months later the prophet came down to see what had happened. Everyone had indeed gone mad, and attacked him, for they thought it was he who was insane.
So the prophet went back to his mountain cave, glad for the water he had saved. But as time went by he found his loneliness unbearable. He yearned for human company, so he went down to the plains again. Again he was rejected by the people, for he was so unlike them.
The prophet then succumbed. He threw away the water he had saved, drank the new water, and joined the people in their insanity.- Anthony De Mello, The Song of the Bird
Phoebe read this excerpt from The Song of the Bird to us, DPF interns, the night before we were to say goodbye and go our separate ways. This story reflects the crazy world we are going back into, a world where those of us who advocate for ending Islamophobia and for a more just and humane way to deal with terrorists, who advocate that black lives matter and that the justice system NEEDS to be reformed, who point out that the US is supporting a government that actively oppresses and is slowly eradicating the Palestine people, who challenge the church to truly welcome the LGBT community, are often viewed as the crazy ones. We are crazy because we say that Jesus’ command to love our enemies applies to all-including those that the west designates as terrorists. We are insane because we point out that US understandings of legal justice are rooted in inequality and injustice. We are ridiculous because we dare question the idea that being pro-Jewish means being anti-Palestine and endorsing the Israeli government’s attempt to destroy the Palestinian people. We are crazy because we believe that the gospel-that Jesus calls us to be better and to do better.
When I began this summer, I just knew that I would get pushback for some of my beliefs, simply because that tends to be the general trend of my life. I am an equal-opportunity offender: it doesn’t’ matter where you are on the political or theological spectrum: liberal, conservative, progressive, moderate, etc chances are that something I say at some point will anger or annoy you. I firmly believe injustice isn’t the exclusive domain of any one side of the theological or political spectrum. Injustice must be spoken out against- no matter what theological or political ideology is used to justify it. For example, in this election season, most of the anger that has been directed my way has come not from those who identify as conservative but those who identify as liberal and progressive, who seem to believe that injustice should only be exposed if it tarnishes those on the Right or whose notion that the other party is the greater evil, excuses the slaughter and murder done in the name of the Left.
However, throughout the summer I was surprised by the welcome and understanding I received. Many agreed with my viewpoints and even those who did not, were willing to engage in respectful dialogue. This summer I felt…sane. It was the rest of the world that was crazy. The rest of the world with its obsession with guns and violence, with its insistence that bombing terrorists and civilians to bits would end terrorism, with its twisted belief that affirming the lives of black people would mean disregarding the lives of police officers, was crazy. I was in an environment where standing up for justice wasn’t just a quirk of mine, to be admired or loathed depending on whether or not I was asking tough questions about a particular political candidate or ideology, but it was expected. Christians were to advocate for justice-they were to stand with the least of these, they were to question the empire, not endorse all of its policies unquestioningly.
But now I am back in the “real” world and it is hard not to feel like the prophet in the above story: isolated and alone. I know that the world and its twisted values are the crazy ones, but I often get treated as if there is something wrong with me. It’s crazy to believe that when Jesus said to love our enemies it includes terrorists and it means not bombing them to bits or torturing them. It’s crazy to believe that one can be both pro-black and pro-law enforcement and that by asking law enforcement to recognize the humanity of all citizens, one is creating an environment that is much safer for all people. However, unlike the prophet in the story, I know that I am not alone. I know that there are other people, trapped in their own mountains who are struggling to remember that they aren’t insane. DPF provided an opportunity for me to leave my mountain and encounter other people who are just as passionate about social justice work. As I go back into this crazy world that insists that I am the insane one, I will remember that I am not alone. Yes, I have God. I always have God. But there are hundreds of prophets-some high school age who insist on showing the world a different way of being.
Note: I am horrible at blogging on a regular basis, but I am going to attempt to do just that. If you are interested in my thoughts on faith and politics, you can check out my blog Homeland Insecurity at https://homelandinsecuritysite.wordpress.com/