Have You Stopped Watching the News? Or . . . Why Should We Care If We Aren’t Wahoos?

I have friends and family members who have “stopped watching the news.”  It’s too upsetting.  It’s negative.  It’s unending.  It’s loud.   While I kind of understand this, I also believe it’s a luxury granted only to those who are not touched personally by pain.

Our TBC is a University of Virginia graduate and we have cried with her over the sight of angry young white men wielding torches and chanting “Blood and Soil” on the campus that was once her home. She saw people she recognized in the news footage.  HH and I have friends who were roughed up while singing hymns.

HH and I have wondered if we would feel so enraged if we didn’t have a personal connection to Charlottesville.  I hope we would.

It’s true that human beings are more distraught over tragedies when we have a personal connection or when we can imagine the tragedy happening to us.

It’s also true that institutions like the Church have been complicit in creating systems of racism and the only faithful choice now is to break down those systems. “White supremacy and racism stand in stark, irreconcilable contradiction to God’s intention for humanity” and it will not be tolerated.  

@OmanReagan took a clip from the 19 43 US Dept of War propaganda film Don’t Be a Sucker and it’s gone viral post-Charlottesville. It’s essentially a video version of the famous Martin Niemoller speech known as “First they came for . . . “

I wonder how we in Church leadership could have failed so miserably to teach the Biblical message that we are called to care for people even if we are not related to them, even if they are strangers, even if they are enemies.  

What do we not understand about the Parable of the Good Samaritan?  What do we not understand about caring for people we don’t even know?  Who is my neighbor?  The wounded guy on the side of the road.

I wonder how people can so easily forget the name of Tamir Rice who was doing what many 12 year old boys do on a fall afternoon.  He was playing with a toy gun on a playground when police pulled up and shot him within two seconds of arriving at the scene.  The police then handcuffed his 14 year old sister on the ground while her little brother lay wounded.  No one treated Tamir for four minutes.  Perhaps it goes without saying that Tamir Rice and his sister were black.

Can we imagine this happening to a child in our neighborhood?  Can we imagine the outrage if a 12 year old white boy had been shot in a playground in leafy suburb and left to bleed while his teenage sister was handcuffed?  We are talking about a 6th grader and an 8th grader here.

But I’m shocked to talk with people – smart, well-educated people – who have never heard this story because they’ve stopped watching the news.  And the Tamir Rice story is old news.

There are strangers wounded every day that we are ignoring because it’s either too upsetting or it doesn’t concern us personally.

But unless we are aware of what’s going on in the world, we will have no incentive to fight it.  For the love of God – literally – we have got to stand up to white supremacy and gun violence and terrorism.  Someday it could be our own children.  But the point is that today it is our neighbor’s child.

Thanking God today for the lives of three of God’s children – our neighbors – who lost their lives last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia:  Heather Heyer, Jay Cullen, and Berke Bates.



2 responses to “Have You Stopped Watching the News? Or . . . Why Should We Care If We Aren’t Wahoos?

  1. I was on hols in NY when this happened and was shocked to the core that such extreme Nazi views could be held by so many in a free and democratic country in the 21st century. Now back in the UK I’ve decided that my service this Sunday will focus on this topic. I want to get my ethnically mixed small Baptist congregation to reach out with messages of love to Charlottesville. In thinking of where to send our messages I searched for baptist churches in Charlottesville. Now admittedly I only looked at whatever google came up with, but I was really disappointed to discover that they all seemed to be either all white or all black. The black churches proudly proclaim to be African baptist or African American baptist, presumably because they feel they do not fit in the white churches. I am deeply saddened by this segregation even within our churches. I have found the United Church of Christ which seems to be a little more integrated but still predominantly white. Perhaps churches should lead the way by actively seeking to be truly representative of all God’s people?


  2. I have not stopped watching the news, but I have dramatically curtailed the frequency with which I seek it out. Twitter and Facebook are no longer sources of information for me. I disabled the browser on my phone, too. It feels like there are more and less helpful ways of engaging the tsunami of news coming at us all the time, because constant connection through numerous multiple channels of news makes me, at least, anxious and irritable, and it leaves me less well informed than if I wait for information that is more thoroughly presented, like in a daily news story.
    I remain very connected to particular people through my phone, though. They’re the ones who informed me about what was happening last weekend.


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