Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Task Teenagers Can Do Better Than Anyone

Christian Youthworker friends,
As reports of post-election hate speech, harassment, intimidation and violence against racial, religious and sexual minorities continue to roll in — and given that more than a few of those reports involve school children and teenagers — there's much that youth workers can do to guide their groups to a fresh understanding that there is nothing Christian (nothing authentically American for that matter) about hate speech, intimidation, vandalism, or personal violence.
Going a step farther, if the biblical text is to be believed, there's something profoundly Christian about defending the weak, the poor, the sick, the broken, the captive, foreigners, widows, orphans, strangers....
You know that the teenagers you serve are better positioned to see and respond quickly to hate speech, harassment, intimidation, and student-on-student violence than anyone else.
If you don't have a better idea, do something with safety pins.
Put a largish safety pin on your shirt, dress, or jacket, and offer one to anybody willing to identify himself or herself as a safe person at school and in the neighborhood for friends and neighbors who feel unsafe because of the present turmoil ... in particular: Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, immigrants, pretty much anyone with dark skin, women and girls, sexual minorities - whoever in your community feels at risk ... in some communities it may be Trump supporters who feel at greater risk this week than before the election.
Safety Pin people will protect anyone who needs protecting by 
  • standing with them
  • eating with them
  • walking with them
  • sharing a ride with them
  • dialing 911 for them
  • recording video of anyone who threatens them
  • taking screen shots of anything that expresses violent intentions towards them online
  • standing up to online bullies and trolls
  • not allowing them to be physically isolated or cornered by anyone who means to harm them 
At the end of the day - whoever they are - if people who need help can't get it from folks who say they know a little something about God, then where exactly are they supposed to turn in your community?
There may never be a more teachable time to help your group understand and embrace this sort of proactive peacemaking than the space between now and the weekend of Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017.
Consider doing something to engage your group in caring about and speaking up for our dispossessed neighbors:

  • this week, to strike while the iron is hot
  • during Advent as we anticipate the coming of God with us
  • at Christmastide as we explore the meaning of God's intervention on our behalf
  • as we celebrate Martin Luther King, jr. Day, just before the Presidential Inauguration
  • the week, or weekend of the Inauguration
IMHO, sooner is better than later. And from now on, would be best of all.

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