I have spent a little too much time this weekend thinking about the OpEd that made quite the splash. While there are so many parts of the piece that I find frustrating, insensitive, misleading, and accusatory, I, like my wonderful friend Tate Harris, have decided to focus my response on one aspect of the piece.
I am a Catholic. I am not ashamed of it, but I am aware of the silent judgments my peers pass on me. Usually they are displayed when I say something “woke” and they respond with surprise.
That being said, the mistreatment I have experienced as a Catholic is nothing in comparison to the hurt that many groups have felt at the hands of the Church (not to mention all the hurt not directly related to religion).
I recognize faith as being an incredibly tricky thing. Especially, when one’s religion has been used to justify colonialism, the suppression of Black and indigenous people, the submission of women, and the demonization of the Queer community, just to name a few. Catholic people are no saints, let me be the first to tell you. As a young Catholic I am still learning about what the Bible means to me, what the teachings of the Church mean to me, and what the history of my religion means to me. In this, I would like to take a moment to apologize for the hurt my Church as a whole and its individual members who have strayed away from our call to love have caused anyone who may come across this piece. I see you. I hear you. I acknowledge your hurt.
For me, being Catholic is centered around the call to love. It is my duty to love my neighbor which, as pointed out by the Gospel of Luke 10:30, is anyone and everyone. The story of the Good Samaritan is a reminder that my neighbor is the young woman and her roommate who live next door to me, the homeless people I pass on my drive to campus, Trump supporters, Biden Supporters, Bernie Supporters, Women, Black and Indigenous People of Color, people who belong to the queer community, even the creepy old men who objectify my body as I walk to the grocery store. All these people are my neighbors. All these people I am called to love and serve in their moment of need.
I find the parable of the Good Samaritan to be incredibly relevant to the Black Lives Matter Movement that Melissa Bowers dramatically and inaccurately characterizes in her piece. There is a man who has been robbed and beaten. Lying on the side of the road he begs for help, but each time someone walks down the road they cross the street to avoid him. There is one man, an outsider, who comes to his aid and brings him back to good health.
Americans have for so long ignored the cries of the Black community. For so long, Black people have begged for their voices to be heard, their stories to be recognized, for justice to be granted them. And yet, so many conservative religious folks cry out that all lives matter and in doing so dimmish the horrendous hurt felt by the Black community. In this modern-day Good Samaritan parable turned reality, not only are people refusing to help the oppressed, they are demonizing those who are lending a hand. And it breaks my heart.
Today I ask, knowing full well that any change in the hearts of my fellow religious is incredibly unrealistic, that we as a community work harder to see Jesus in our Black and indigenous neighbors, in our queer neighbors, in our female neighbors. My childhood parish priest once told me something that is so incredibly relevant to this topic: people think that by pushing others down they lift themselves above, but in reality, it is the building up of others, especially others who have been or are being pushed down that we, as people, soar. This comes to mind whenever I see people who fear that the creation of an equitable system for all people will diminish their own value.
In the moments that I have felt threatened because of my age, gender, or political beliefs, I say a prayer for the people who do not have the privilege that I have. I recognize that my privilege blocks me from far more physical, emotional, and mental trauma than I can ever fully realize.
For my friends who feel oppression regularly, both from society and individual actors, my heart and voice are with you.
For UP conservatives, if I have ever led you to feel unwelcome or bullied because of my political comments, please come forward and tell me. I would like the opportunity to apologize for dehumanizing you. No one is deserving of that.
To all people, let’s practice being nicer. Let’s remember that liberals and conservatives alike have the power to be harmful to those they view as ‘other’ and that we must hold ourselves, our friends, and our communities accountable for hateful rhetoric from any side of politics.
Taylor Cole (she/her)
Political Science Major | Spanish and Social Justice Minor
Taylor Cole is a junior political science student. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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