Pastor’s Perspective – October 2021
Every time I go to see the doctor, he hits my knee with a hammer.
If you have never had a physical, then this statement would be beyond shocking, but for most of you it makes perfect sense. You too have experienced the doctor testing your reflexes by striking parts of your body with a small and soft hammer. While I cannot claim with certainty why the doctor does this, I can say that it has never caused me injury or inconvenience.
Yet the opening words of this essay, to the unenlightened, might conjure images of thuggery and violence. Without understanding the context of the sentence, the doctor, might be mistaken for a monster who crushes kneecaps in some sadistic assertion of dominance. Of course, none of this is true, but we can easily understand how future generations and cultures might misconstrue the meaning and intent of your annual physical.
As odd as it might seem a recent story about border agents in Texas has taken similar turns to the absurd. Still images and brief video clips of Border Patrol agents attempting to control a mass of illegal immigrants walking across the border, have purported to show the whipping of immigrants in broad daylight. Early reports spoke of the use of whips. Revisions acknowledged that the whips were in fact reigns but maintained the fallacy that these reigns were being used as whips.
Video showed the agents twirling their reigns on either side of their horses, with commentators claiming that the agents were using these motions to intimidate the immigrants or to brush them away. Oddly in the videos shown the reigns never make contact with people. The most popular image shows an agent on horseback with a hand grasping an immigrant man and the reign of the horse dangling in the air. This image purported to show the agent whipping the man who he was attempting to grasp.
Now I am no expert in horse riding or whipping, but my understanding is that whips (or reigns used as whips) are used to keep distance between people or to strike someone outside of the range of one’s arms. It seems implausible to use a whip on someone that you are trying to grasp, both due to the fact that the whip would be useless in a close quarters conflict, but also because the purpose of the whip in crowd control would be contrary to the agent’s intent to grasp the man.
All of this is intended to show that the images neither show what the media claims they show, nor do they make sense in regard to the intent of those who have been accused of brutality and horrific behaviors.
Why then are we so offended by the images? Why then are we criticizing border patrol agents for whipping people (who have certainly not been whipped by any reasonable historical definition)?
If someone told you that their doctor hit them with a hammer, what would you say? Would you take it to the media? The police? If you believed the story, that is exactly what you would do. But you would likely do something else before publicly accusing the doctor of monstrous treatment. You would take a photo of the damaged knee.
Any decent attorney knows that to make a claim against a doctor (or a border patrol agent) there must be proof of injury. Where then are the injured parties? Why amid all these stories are there no photos of battered and beaten Haitian immigrants?
I am sharing this with you because I believe that this story has the US public crossing the proverbial Rubicon into a new and dangerous world. We have moved from accusations without evidence into the Orwellian world of accusations being brought with evidence that would reasonably be considered exculpatory (evidence that would exonerate or show a person to be not guilty).
This is particularly troubling in a nation of laws, rules, and due process. It erodes our confidence in our public servants and leaders and further separates us from each other. It turns evidence into perception and allows for partisans to ignore the truth for the sake of a cause.
This should not be seen as a partisan issue. This is an issue of truth and justice. Justice is often anthropomorphized as a blind woman holding scales. The woman is not supposed to be blind to the evidence, but to the station of those who bring the evidence. Justice is blind because when it is appropriately understood, it has no agenda, no political motivations, no partisan intent.
When justice (and the media that is so often integral in calling us to justice) is co-opted by a party or an agenda it simply becomes an agent of power. Another crooked cop, serving the rich and powerful. Another state-run media organization that controls the free flow of information for the sake of the tyrannical leaders in the Kremlin or the Reichstag.
When no one is wiling to say that the emperor has no clothes (regardless of whom is striding naked down Pennsylvania Avenue) then we are in trouble as a nation. This has added fuel to the fire of those who reject the advice of the CDC, State Department, or Governor’s office. One cannot complain about a government that systematically lies to the American people while simultaneously telling us that this time we are telling the truth.
The erosion of the truth damages all sides, and eventually dissolves the foundations of our communities and social order. We are watching it happen in real time. So what is the solution? Tell the truth. Live by it like it was as necessary as the oxygen you breathe. Don’t massage it for partisan purposes. Control your impulse to root for the home team and when possible, call it like you see it. Be fair, truthful, and unbiased. Don’t just accept opinions, research facts. And never stop asking questions.
Those who want to silence questions are usually hiding something. Don’t let this happen on our watch. This is not about elections, control, or personalities. It is about truth, fairness, and justice. We may not always agree about what we should do or how we should respond, but we need to be honest about what has occurred. Tell the truth and hold those who lie to account. It is the least we can do to protect our neighbors from tyranny and injustice.