It’s exhausting trying to keep up with the news anymore. It’s depressing to let any one story sink in. There is so much death and injustice and cries for changes and lack of action. So much talk for so little result. But yelling into the void is slightly better than bottling it all up, so we do yell. At each other. Over each other. Desperate to score a debate win or topple an opponent or be proven right when history looks back on us.
Over the past few months, I’ve come to loathe whataboutism. “This conservative is wrong” “Oh, but what about this liberal?” “Issue Y is evil.” “Why didn’t you speak out on X?” If you don’t have a history of condemning a certain behavior consistently, you are deemed a hypocrite. And hypocrites aren’t granted discussion. If hypocrisy is found, then the conversation is over before the actual issue is even addressed.
You don’t have to have a perfect policy record to speak out about a current unjust policy. You don’t have to have a pristine past to preach morality now. Jesus calls sinners to be his followers. Each day is a new opportunity for each of us to do better. Don’t diminish one’s efforts today because they didn’t start yesterday. We are all hypocrites at times, and we should strive to be morally consistent. Don’t let the fear of being labeled a hypocrite silence a cry for justice.
Another phrase I’ve come to hate is “both sides,” and in, “Well, both sides are corrupt, money-grabbing elites.” “There are extremists on both sides.” “We condemn…hatred, bigotry, and violence. On many sides. On many sides.” It equivocates two groups that are not equal, either glossing over the damaging traits of one or exaggerating the faults of the other. It seems fair to treat both equally, not pick a side. But what if they’re not equal? Maybe both sides are bad. But one is worse. Maybe both sides are corrupt. But one welds more power. It’s not that comparisons can never be made, but saying something applies equally to both sides often means, again, ignoring the damage of the actual issue.
Neutrality isn’t really neutral in good versus evil. In the oft-quoted saying of Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Calling every single view equal is a cop-out, a way to sound enlightened and fair without having to take the risk of action. It’s a relativistic view, where ideologies don’t have moral weight and actions don’t have proportional consequences. It won't bring about justice. It won't bring any change at all.
It’s not that you must pick a side when both choices seem immoral or dangerous. The only side you have to pick is God’s, which isn’t always well-represented. But rarely are the options equally immoral or equally dangerous. Drop the comparison. Drop the whataboutism. Call out that which is wrong. Stand up for that which is right. Demand justice. Show mercy. It’s exhausting. It’s depressing. It’s often ineffective. But it’s just.