I spend way too much time browsing my Facebook feed and being shocked and appalled by the misinformation that is out there. Mostly alt-right nonsense—all of it crazy as a shoebat—but some far left stuff, too. I’ve written about the potential collapse of the marketplace of ideas before. If too many non-truths are accepted as truth, the marketplace of ideas—the very cornerstone of freedom of speech and expression—is in danger.
However, what has struck me recently is that those who are clinging closest to Donald Trump right now are those who read and re-post the alt-right websites—and those people are afraid. I get it. I’ve visited these alt-right sites. If I believed half of what I read there, I’d never let anyone in my family outside our house, and I’d probably put shutters and bars on all the windows, too.
Those websites say that we can’t let refugees into our country because they might be terrorists. We must turn our backs on a humanitarian crisis because Muslims hate Christians. Is that what Jesus would tell you to do? No, I think Jesus would walk right into their midst. He’d be kind and brave and helpful, and that is what he wants us to do, except we are missing the key ingredient.
Brave. The average American—and I include myself in that number—is not brave anymore. We’re too comfortable in our little houses with central air conditioning and our dishwashers and our televisions as our windows on the outside world. I’m not going to say we’re all cowards because we still can be capable of doing extraordinary things if necessary. More than that, police, firefighters, the military, doctors and others face the possibility of needing to be brave every day…and that in itself is an act of bravery. And even average Americans can act in brave ways when circumstances call for it—but we’d all rather not be put in those extreme positions, right?
I saw something recently that inspired me. It was on the most recent John Oliver show where he was investigating Guantanamo Bay. Included in the show was an interview with the Former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. Wilkerson said about closing Guantanamo Bay and releasing the men who remain held there without trial, “As an American citizen who is not a coward, I’d be willing to release every one of them tomorrow morning and face them on the battlefield again if necessary, but we’ve got a lot of cowards in the country these days.”
He’s not wrong.
If we want this country to remain “the home of the brave”, we’ve got to stop relying on our military to be the only brave ones. We average Americans have to step up our games too. Again, I include myself in that number. It’s too easy to sit comfortably in our own homes, sipping coffee and tapping away at our computers. Some of that is okay, but we need to collectively get off our asses and do something brave, too. Every single day. Stop believing the world is out to take what we have and start giving a little back. I know some people who do this every day, people who work tirelessly for admirable causes. I’m ashamed that I am not one of them.
So today I’m going to get up and do something brave. It won’t be anything big, probably. But I’ve got a literal mountain of things that needs to be given to charity in my dining room. Maybe I’ll start the process of getting that stuff where it needs to be. It’s a small thing, but it’s something.