So much seems wrong in our culture today. I feel like it’s a struggle to get things done well, to get polite treatment in public institutions, and to hold people to the promises they have made. But, I hesitate at times to speak up because it seems like we’re told as Christians to be nice. I need to know how to think about this.
I so appreciate this question. Christians often reflect the worst patterns of our culture. Somehow being nice, defined as being pleasant or not ruffling feathers, is mistakenly interpreted as how the gifts of the Spirit should be exercised. That kind of niceness may just be indifference or a desire to avoid conflict.
I once heard someone say, “Silence may be golden, but it can also be yellow.” I can’t help thinking of an intelligent essay entitled “Why Don’t We Complain?” by William F. Buckley Jr. He bemoans the silence of the average consumer and citizen. Complaining, he implies, is not necessarily negative or petty. It can mean making your voice heard so that you and other people will benefit from things done well and in order.
Think about the word courage
, one of the four chief cardinal virtues, also called fortitude, which is the capacity to do what is right or necessary even in the face of adversity or discomfort. We cannot live cowed by the laziness or shrillness of culture. Christ never did. We must confront evil and sloppiness when we see it; we must speak up because our small protest may make a difference. We cannot adopt a neutral posture that tolerates small and large abuses in and out of the church. Speaking up just may be an issue of moral life or death.