by David Rothstein
Yesterday a Muslim teen on a New York subway train was verbally attacked by 3 white men. She said they mentioned Donald Trump, called her a terrorist, told her to leave the country, and “take that rag off your head.” No one on the train said a word as this happened.
As I read this and my blood boils, I think of the Good Samaritan story. Where was this girl’s Good Samaritan? Maybe the people on the train were too afraid, or maybe they agreed with the men, as many in this country do. This is not an isolated incident, as we know from other news stories about the rise in hate, racism and xenophobia since the election.
What in the world is happening? A very ugly and violent spirit has been raised up in this country. How did that happen? What words conjured up and empowered this spirit? We could argue it has always been here and just needed the right push.
I’m not writing to point fingers but to question what the spiritual response to this should be, now that it’s happening? As a Christian, I stand with Jesus who in his own life learned that the Kingdom of God must of course be wide and inclusive. He accepted the outsider and sinner, the Canaanite woman, the lepers, the Roman soldier, tax collector, harlot, thief, and yes, the Samaritan who stopped to help a man who was beaten and robbed.
I like to believe that if I had been on that subway train I would have risked getting beaten and told those men to leave that girl alone, that we are a country of immigrants, that she has every right to be here, and that you are the terrorists, terrorizing her. Would I have that courage?
I pray that this is all part of our growing pains as a society, that we will learn to confront this wrong, and peace will come with acceptance. But confronting wrong and accepting the other who is different from me—this is a spiritual practice, not political. Jesus died trying to build this kind of world, in the image and likeness of God.
I am encouraged by the many who are stepping up after this election to be more active in peacemaking and building understanding. This is a spiritual practice. Writing this is one small part. I hope I have courage to do more.