My wife (who has a Roman shrewdness though she’s more cheerful than Calpurnia) says I’m posting too much political material on Facebook—she fears both for my wits and my reputation. It’s one thing to be known as a gadfly but really quite another to be seen as a pest. She’s right of course and in my better confessional moments I know I’m an annoying person. I tell myself it’s OK as I’m not intentionally vexatious, or I say I’ve good motives and recite them silently—I believe in civil rights for women, people of color, children, refugees, all the disabled, LGBT, religious tolerance, help for veterans, the poor—it’s a long damned list—animal rights, biodiversity. God help me, I’m also an ardent Jungian who thinks our very planet has consciousness.
It’s a firm list. As Cardinal Newman said: “We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.” I know my choices well. I’m also of an age when (again quoting Newman): “You must make up your mind to the prospect of sustaining a certain measure of pain and trouble in your passage through life.” Did you know what fights were proper? Did you accept the consequences? Admit you couldn’t be liked by the ablest, the bigot, the homophobe? You accepted the repercussions. There would indeed be a certain measure of pain. We’re answerable for what we choose to believe, whether we’re religiously inclined or atheists. We’re also answerable for the choices we make when it comes to speaking or not speaking. In an age of calculated victimization, when universal human rights are besieged on all sides, not speaking is a choice but one I fear for which I’ll be answerable. You too.
I so firmly believe this that I’m not inclined to self-imposed modes of sufferance, shrugs, distractions.
My wife is correct: I’m quite likely speechifying too much on social media. But I’m driven by the New Testament especially “the Beatitudes”—
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10
Cornel West once wrote: “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
I’ll take disapprobation over silence.