What do media, faith say about our identity as brothers and sisters?
The usual media frenzy since June has raced from coverage of one woman’s racial identity to the wildfires in the region to focus on a controversy-inciting presidential candidate. A barrage of coverage for a period is usually followed by waning coverage and disappearance. There is need for more conversation, as there is need for continued firefighting and recovery. There are always long-term implications.
Thankfully the presidential candidate with billions to spend and a celebrity reputation, has raised the questions among and even outraged conservative columnists and pundits for running roughshod over issues of immigration and the people who have immigrated. His “solution” is reminiscent of blaming Jews in Germany in the 1930s and the internment of Japanese in the United States in the 1940s.
Hate may be an easy sell on the political trail, but when media to foment it among voters it’s unconscionable. Just because one candidate has private funds to self-promote and broadcast his message to score in the polls in a crowded field of candidates, does not mean the messages of others should be downplayed or invisible.
How long will his rants be featured?
A liberal candidate in the other party draws as many to rallies but seems off media radar, and headlines on the former Secretary of State seems stuck on emails, even though the articles do not substantiate any scandal.
We’re used to it. Heavy coverage for a few weeks is followed by dwindling attention if media anticipate that their audiences may lose interest.
For those who think and care, there seems to be little time for that.
That’s why we also need faith and nonprofit communities. They help address long-term concerns as issues that matter and disasters’ impact continue.
Our ability to identify with others can help us live out the love, care and commitment to justice our faith calls us to do.
In the ecumenical sphere, we talk of being in solidarity with people as we work for justice.
We talk of being partners and allies with people of different races, cultures, groups and nations.
We talk of compassion and empathy stirring common action or action on behalf of and along side of oppressed people.
Can individuals or groups understand the struggles of another person or group, race or culture?
What is the role of media? What is the role of faith communities?
In the 1960s, media played an important role in the civil rights movement.
When they showed white Southern police dispersing crowds of blacks with hoses, many identified with the African Americans. When people crossed the bridge at Selma, many identified with those who walked and were beaten. We identified with the actions and words of civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr. The coverage was ongoing, as was the struggle.
The coverage helped changed minds, lives and laws, making a difference.
In encounters with people locally and from around the world, whether brief, intense or longer-term, we can learn by listening to people’s stories and walking with them to see through their eyes, to gain compassion, empathy and love that inspire us to act in solidarity, to challenge injustice, inequality, insensitivity, intolerance and ignorance whenever we can.
People who are poor, homeless, victims of violence, lacking education and opportunities, subjected to hate and ostracism, and even suffering from substance abuse or mental illness, need to be in solidarity with each other, not divided by race, ethnicity, gender or other dynamics.
We need to unite to challenge powers and principalities that forge the ever-widening economic disparity that threatens our democracy and our society.
We need to be who we are, but we also need to identify with each other. We need to love each other as brothers and sisters in God’s family, seeing each other by the content of our characters.
Let’s celebrate diversity of race, culture and each person.
Let’s use our experiences and struggles, however different from others, so we suffer with those who suffer and bear their burdens in prayer and action.
May media offer coverage and faith communities engage in interactions that build understanding, companionship, alliance and solidarity in addressing racism, wildfires and unwise political rhetoric.
Mary Stamp - editor
Copyright © September 2015 - The Fig Tree