Silent? No more.

I began tweeting at the end of 2012. I began blogging a few months later. Since then, nearly everything I’ve shared in this medium has been strictly related to mathematics and education. The balance? A few quips about my kids and running.

Up to this point, I’ve not written anything overtly political. In fact, for most of my adult life I’ve been so disillusioned by the American political landscape that I considered myself apolitical.

Also, beyond the first line of my Twitter bio—which reads Follower of Christ—I’ve shared almost nothing that springs from my faith, the very foundation of my life.

In a sense, I’ve been loud on mathematics/education/technology, and silent on everything else.

Over the past year, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with that silence.

Our professional, personal, and political thoughts are intertwined. For some time, I’ve been pretending that I can keep them separate in my own life. I cannot. Nor do I want to.

So as Mr. Trump imposes his own set of bans, I’ll lift one of my own. As I wrestle with how to live as a faithful follower of Christ in this strange new world, I will no longer wrestle silently. Where I see bigotry and hatred, I will stand and speak against it, especially if that bigotry and hatred spews forth from a position of power.

There’s a pretty good chance everyone reading this post will disagree with something I share over the coming months. That’s fine. I invite your pushback, your perspective. I’m open to dialogue. If you’d prefer I keep my thoughts to myself, that I just “stick to education” as some of my friends and colleagues have been advised, you’ll likely be disappointed and may want to give the unsubscribe/unfollow button a try.

I’ll leave you with some words that have been troubling me in a most helpful way:

“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.”

– Jeremiah 6:14

“In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies. But the silence of our friends.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Comments 27

  1. I love this post from you. Thank you for opening up, Michael. I’ve been having very similar thoughts. Does being a teacher mean I give away my freedom of speech publicly? I love the quotes you included and cannot stay silent when I realize Dr. King speaks of silence in this way. By doing or saying nothing, you stay safe and others are hurt more. It’s a sign of complacency, I think. We have to step up to protect the minority.

  2. Thank you for this, Michael. I, too, realize I can no longer be silent, but am struggling with how best to take a stand. Ranting and raving on Facebook (or Twitter) never changed a single mind, that I am aware of. And there are so many different areas that “demand” my attention. I cannot do all. How do I choose? These are the thoughts that spin around in my head.

  3. Michael, I, too, have tried to stay “apolitical,” but when it goes against what Christ taught us, being silent is no longer an option. Being a true follower of Christ may cost us in this life, but when I think about the sacrifice made by Jesus for us, I am ready to step out and be bold no matter the cost. Thank you for your bold step of taking a stand for Christ!

  4. I’m excited to see what comes forth. At some point, we draw the line in the sand and defend those who can not defend themselves.

  5. Post

    Tina, your question is one I’ve yet to answer for myself, let alone anyone else. 🙂

    Here are a few things I’m trying to keep in mind as I wrestle with this:

    When I feel ignorant, but I know the issue is important… It’s time to learn.
    When I feel it’s right to speak, but I worry what others will think and what it will cost… It’s time to speak. (I struggle with this!)
    When I lack compassion, but want to grow in that regard… It’s time to listen (especially to those who don’t look/act/think like me).
    When I feel overwhelmed, and want to take it all on (or bury my head in the sand)… It’s time to pray for wisdom and discernment.

    Hope that helps, even if only a little.

  6. Proud of you, and appreciative of your effort to move out of comfort zone. We need more well-spoken, educated folks to take stands, and you are a model for us all.

  7. I feel for you Michael and for all Americans at this unsettling time. Our thoughts are with you. I am hoping your President visits UK so that I have the opportunity to take to the streets to show him the strength of feeling. There will be many thousands of us, hopefully millions.

  8. Michael, speak out. As an 11 year math teacher I look forward to your posts.

    As an American, and as an immigration attorney since 1986, this has been an especially distressing number of days.

    Here’s how I feel: we must overturn darkness with light, hatred with love, incivility with kindness.

    And we must all work and fight for justice, one act at a time!

    That goes for our classrooms, our neighborhoods, our homes.

  9. I like you even more now. I used to just follow you for this! Take a stand it is what we all need to do because standing by silently only encourages Trump’s and his cronies ‘ poor behavior.

  10. Tina (and Michael)

    I believe thoughtful posts (such as this one) on blogs or facebook or twitter from your unique perspectives will serve to be a way to organize your own thoughts just as much as it is to be symbols of camaraderie for others with similar feelings. It may not convince anyone, but that’s beside the point. Write for yourself, and I feel the rest will follow.

    Thank you Michael.

  11. Thank you for your example and boldness. I too am trying to navigate my faith in Christ, the foundation of life and my professional life.

  12. Thanks for writing this up Michael. Add my name to the long list of people trying to make sense of what had always been a clear line between my profession and my politics. I won’t pretend to claim that I’ve figured this out just yet, and am trying to figure out the best private and public ways to deal with this “strange new world.” Crazy times…

  13. I, too, am a follower of Christ and hurt for those refugees who have been forced to flee their homes and who are looking for a safe and free place to live. However, I want to raise a voice of caution. Be careful not to judge the motives of those whose political positions are different from yours. It deeply troubles me that that anyone who supports a position of caution with regards to immigration policies is automatically assumed to be full of hatred and bigotry.

    We have been hearing for years about the problems in western Europe (Germany, France, the Netherlands, and now even Sweden) with large populations of Muslim immigrants. These nations have seen the clash of cultural values and the increase of violence towards women (considered acceptable in some cultures) and have experienced terrorist attacks. This raises some legitimate questions about how we can avoid similar problems in our country. For example:

    1. Is there a certain “tipping point” where an influx of refugees whose values may be different than American values threatens to undermine the rights and freedoms of people in our country? I am thinking of areas within western nations where Muslim communities have been given the right to self-government under sharia law legally or where sharia law is practiced illegally and local authorities are afraid to interfere. Would this happen in the US? Maybe not, but it needs to be considered.
    2. If we significantly increase the rate of immigration, are we still able to safely vet the refugees and avoid letting terrorists in? Are we prepared with the resources to help larger numbers of legitimate refugees find jobs and housing?
    3. It is the responsibility of the church and those who follow Christ to help the oppressed, but is that necessarily the first priority of a secular government? Is it not the responsibility of the federal government to protect its own citizenry and uphold national security?

    I think all of these questions reflect reasonable concerns, not bigotry and hatred.

    There is a tension between being a land where the oppressed of the world can come and live in freedom and a reasonable regard for national security. I wish that those who hold different positions on this issue would actually talk and listen to each other’s concerns and not just attack each other’s assumed motives and beliefs. Unfortunately, “crossing the aisle” to work out a compromise seems to have fallen out of favor these days, so we need to be praying for our leaders and for ourselves–to be civil, to listen to each other, to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to respect each other, and to work together for the good of our country and also for those who are seeking freedom from fear and oppression.

  14. Post

    @mathnerdjet Thank you for your comment. I hear us wrestling with the same tension, that between compassion and safety. I’ll affirm here that both are important, and I’ll save a few more thoughts for a future post. As for your wish (“…that those who hold different positions on this issue would actually talk and listen to each other’s concerns and not just attack each other’s assumed motives and beliefs…”), I’ll do my best. As with my teaching, my efforts here are a work in progress.

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  16. I’m looking forward to reading, Michael – and will pray for that wisdom along with you! I’m not there yet. Social media politics tend to swallow me up like Jeremiah 51:34. The assault of information, with few mechanisms for knowing what’s true, overwhelms me. I have to be careful. Be careful.

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