My sister the Trump supporter texted me last night. We didn’t talk politics; instead we talked about my nieces and how my grand-nephew was entering first grade and how that seemed absolutely impossible and how he looked like the Red-Headed Menace.
It brought up for me the issue once again of how to interact with my sister. I know people who would urge me to cut “those horrible people” out of my life. I don’t want to do that. I do love my family, as much as I think they’re wrong. And increasing divisions in this country strikes me as counterproductive. So I think of Micah.
The verse from Micah in the sidebar has been instrumental in influencing my political worldview. But lately, I’ve been wondering what it all means, especially in the context of today’s political and societal landscape.
Micah 6:8 clearly lays out three requirements for goodly living. To take the last one first, we are commanded to “walk humbly with your God.” How is one supposed to do that? Is that walking humbly with respect to other human beings? Is it not using God as a smokescreen for things you would do anyway but which you want to wreath with a shroud of sanctity?
I also hit up against what do you do if you struggle with God, or even you don’t believe in God at all. Then the first two requirements for Godly living become paramount.
“To do justice” (also translated as “To act justly”) seems pretty straightforward. You act in accordance with what you understand as the just action to take. You support Black Lives Matter, if that seems important to you (as it does to me). You protest unjust action by the government, even if it’s just a letter to your congressperson. If a company acts in ways that hurts society, workers, or customers, you boycott.
But it also means justice in small ways. You give credit to the coworkers who came up with that great idea. You hold the youngest child accountable for his actions, especially if he tried to fob off responsibility on his older brother. You talk to your kids about justice, and about how privileged they are, and how important it is to always remember that.
You tell the truth as best you can, no matter how difficult.
Do I do these things? No. Do I come close? I try. I have the most difficulty in speaking the truth in uncomfortable situations. I work on it, but I am silent all too often. I never lie, but I bad at confronting people – including my family. (I blame my Southern upbringing for that.) I am struggling with it. Writing in this blog helps: I find it easy to speak the truth, to “do justice” here. And sometimes what I write here gives me the courage to speak out in other places.
And there is “love mercy” (or “love kindness). I find the difference between the two translations confusing. Kindness is extended to everyone, regardless of status or relationship. Mercy is extended to those who need it: those in trouble, those in need of forgiveness. In some sense, people have to earn mercy. I have always preferred the translation of Micah which called for mercy, and it only occurred to me recently that it was because it required less of me.
But kindness or mercy run smack into justice. I can see where telling someone the truth, even if they don’t want to hear it, can be merciful or kind, depending upon how it is done. But justice sometimes requires anger. Protesting in the streets, speaking out loudly, cleansing a temple – they’re necessary, but how can they be merciful? Or kind?
I will continue to ponder Micah 6:8. I will be just, and kind where I can. Whether I can walk humbly with God remains to be seen.
I can but try.