I’m not sure if religion is the opiate of the masses, but I’m convinced that indifference is the opiate of the privileged. We turn to it when overwhelmed by the discomfort we feel about our complicity in an oppressed person’s reality. To anesthetize ourselves against their reality, we willfully ingest this opiate and use it as a coping mechanism.
After years of the westernized church ingesting unhealthy amounts of indifference, we now experience delusional thoughts which blame the victims of injustice for their suffering. We have contorted scripture to please our ears. Ignoring the words and life of Christ, disregarding the narrative of Israel, and taking Christ’s upside kingdom and attempting to flip it right side up.
This inversion can be seen in endless justifications of a broken criminal justice system. Our addiction to the opiate of indifference has made us believe that it’s easier to find a speck of wrongdoing in the oppressed than it is to notice the plank in our own eyes, and when the plank can no longer be ignored we ingest more of this opiate and continue to oppress more innocent people.
We’ve been so delusional that I think we’re beyond the ability to have constructive conversation that would lead to effective nonviolent revolution. What I’m saying is not outside of our given consensual ethic. By no means do I wish to selfishly draw upon my own ethical agenda, but instead to draw upon a traditional morality, emulated in the life of Christ and written in the word we claim as God’s.
To my fellow inheritors of the Judeo-Christian tradition, I ask, “Are we not called to excoriate an exploitative sociopolitical system which shuns the idea of liberation and equality?” I fear there are too many of us privileged folk who are quietly nodding but still doing nothing. It is time to speak up.
Does there not come a point in time when silence is betrayal—betrayal of your equals, your God, and your own convictions?
If we lived in a society that was not apathetically silent to the oppressed person’s reality we would see far less violence. Violence comes when one feels their life has been robbed of it’s significance. The silence of well-meaning people communicates to these persons they have no significance.
A nonviolent yet indifferently silent person is just as dangerous, if not more, than an actively violent person. This is not to ignore the damaging effects of violence, but maybe this is why Ghandi said, “Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.” After all, violence implies that there’s a tangible presence and that there is some degree of concern about injustice. But please don’t mishear me inciting violence, or wrongly insinuating that Ghandi was for violence. I know that Ghandi was not for violence and I personally am not for violence. I am simply putting weight into the fact that as much as we are anti-violence so we should also be anti-indifference. Furthermore, if we want continued nonviolence we must have continued progression in regards to systemic justice.
In the same way a faith without works is dead, so too is a love without action. The US church is so far disillusioned that we’ve forgotten the pursuit of resurrection requires an inner revolution. The fact is justice will not come without blood. As nonviolent Christians we confess that this ought not be our enemy’s blood but our own. To seek justice is to seek out and bear the weight of the cross, an instrument of state-sponsored violence.
To be clear – the goal is not to hurt the enemy back but to love our enemy regardless. And we ought not forget: the “enemy” of Christ was not the prostitute but the religious elite. Again, the responsibility of our world’s violence rests upon the shoulders of those consumed by indifference. I’m convinced that there would be far less violence if there were far less indifference. This is not a pursuit of becoming an antihero of the oppressed but rather it is the pursuit of becoming an antithesis of the oppressor incarnating the love and very life of Christ.