the #newschool: Let it be.

This one is pretty simple: it’s OK sometimes to let it be.

While activism and working for change are important, there are also arguments that aren’t worth having and that will never be won. In a story in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was instructing his disciples to go out into the world and preach, and he gave this advice:

12 As you enter a house, wish it peace,
13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.
14 Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.

I also like to keep in mind a saying that was once shared with me: Arguing with a damn fool makes you a bigger damn fool than that damn fool. That second example, while far more vulgar than the Biblical passage, is equally applicable.

Even in our age of social media and 24-hour news, when some people will goad us into professing outrage with accusations about our “silence,” it’s still OK not to share all of our negative responses to the world. They don’t all have to come out for everyone to see and hear. And keeping our responses to the world’s ugliness to ourselves doesn’t negate the validity of our ideas and emotions, nor does it weaken the person who exercises restraint. Speaking out takes one form of strength; remaining silent requires another. Think about Rosa Parks answering the arresting officer by saying, “You may do that,” or about Martin Luther King, Jr. kneeling in prayer on Turnaround Tuesday.

As far as I’m concerned, hateful people and dishonest people are their own worst punishment. I can get away from them. I can leave their hate or their lies behind me and “shake the dust off my feet.” But those people have to live all of their waking hours with it, with hate and lies churning in their heads. What the rest of us can do, instead of contributing our own noisy anger to their noisy anger, is: be aware of them, be ready for them, and be diligent in not allowing them to affect good lives. It’s when we get mired in our own converse form of hate that they have won.

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