Thursday, 4 February 2010
A time to speak, a time to be silent
It’s not that we’ve never heard these things before. It’s not like we don’t know that when it comes to adoption, ignorant, misinformed, and racist opinions exist. As much as we’d like to think we’ve moved on, that people are finally getting it, that our children won’t have to come up against prejudice and judgement, we’ve gotten enough comments personally to know better. The people in the grocery line, the kids who stare, the parents who don’t know how to talk about it. We have a lot of work to do, and we have the important job of being ambassadors of adoption, little lights of truth, educating and gently showing the world a better way.
So why on earth do we draw attention to ignorant, inflammatory words that someone utters, even if they’re on TV?
This could have been a throwaway moment. This could have been forgotten as soon as it was over, because of course adopted children aren’t “someone else’s problem.” Of course they’re not destined to “grow up weird.” It’s utterly, incredibly ridiculous. Laughable. A pure, simple “what the…?” moment. If you happened to be watching in that moment — roll eyes, move on. Nothing to see here.
But then, everyone starts linking to the clip. The adoption community sets it on fire, and now it’s a circus show.
I get that we have to speak up in the face of injustice, and to stand up for the weak. But this? This is just giving power to words that should have had none. By linking to the clip and having all our friends watch it, we’re just joining in 1. Increasing the exposure of these hateful words to more people, and 2. Jumping on the dogpile in judgment of another human being.
In moments like these, is it really better to speak out? (The irony of writing a blog post about how we shouldn’t talk about it isn’t lost on me. I told myself that everyone’s seen it by now so I’m not adding more fuel to the flame, but who knows? I’m probably part of the problem. Aren’t we always?)
It’s the same for words that degrade women in the church, or words that communicate hate and fear to our gay and lesbian friends, or really, any words that tear down instead of build up. The outcry only gives the original words more power than they deserve. When we are silent, when we ignore the ignorant, we are speaking volumes. We are saying their words have no power, their attitude has no place in our discourse.
Let’s keep to our own lane, keep our heads down and keep doing the good work of reconciliation, of speaking adoption-friendly language, of educating others on the hard, worth-it work of healing and wholeness and truth. Let’s show the world with our lives, with our families and with our choices what is true and right and noble. That work is far, far more important, and does much more good, than putting hateful words on display in the name of discounting them. They are discounted when we turn the other way and tell another story.
It’s a balance I’m constantly trying to get right, so I’d love to know what you think. In the face of ignorance, when should we speak out, and when should we be silent?