Our stories are powerful, and they serve to be a potent source of inspiration for others. The story of Emmett Till, a young black teen who was beaten and lynched in 1955, changed the course of history. In speaking about the day that she refused to move to the back of the bus, Rosa Parks said, “I thought about Emmett Till, and the injustice and brutality of his murder and I could not go back.” If you have been on social media recently, you have seen #MeToo roll across our collective consciousness, as women are bringing to light stories of sexual harassment inflicted upon them by employers, work colleagues, neighbors, trusted friends and even family members. Emmett Till’s story changed the course of the Civil Rights movement, and this social media movement has turned up the volume on a problem that has clearly existed for some time but which has been kept hidden or ignored. Only by telling our stories can we bring about change.
As Christians, we are called to rise up and shine the light of Christ into the darkness in our world. As it says in Proverbs 31:8, we are to “open your mouth for the speechless…” That means to me that when people are shut out of social institutions and economic opportunity because of their gender or race, our faith requires us to rise up. When runaway gun violence continues to escalate and threaten our peace and security, our faith requires us to rise up. And yes, when our mothers, sisters and daughters are made to endure the unwanted attentions, flirtations and unwelcome touching – or worse – from male colleagues and acquaintances, we may think that launching yet another hashtag movement is a waste of time – that is, until a million women post #MeToo.
For me, the lesson is that when injustice is allowed to go unchecked, we are in danger of normalizing it or believing it to be inevitable. It is my hope and prayer that we are inspired by these courageous people to tell our stories and listen to the stories of others. Then we may collectively rise up in the name of Christ to engage in the work of building the just and peaceful world envisioned by God.