The Unruly Resistance of Truth

There are some topics that people avoid like the plague because it incites too much debate and discussion.  If you are unsure of this fact, try bringing up either religion or politics at your next family dinner.  As for me, I love to be able to challenge people’s thinking.  Being able to present a new idea or concept that reveals some aspect of the world to a group that was beforehand unaware of that information which then causes them to make a positive change in their life has always been a strong desire for me.  For that reason alone is most likely why I went into teaching, because it’s there that I have a captive audience whom I can challenge on a daily basis.  My students are somewhat used to this approach, so it was very much a surprise to me when I brought up questions of latent racism that exists in our country and was greeted with an immense amount of argument and resistance.  We were reading articles about the daily feelings and struggles of people of color, and as I continued, hands shot up, anger was induced, and many voices were heard.  Many balked at these claims and argued them to the smallest detail, most arguments stemming from the point that they themselves are not racist in their speech or actions.  I allowed them to present their ideas with little commentary on my part.  Having recently presented this material to two of my black senior boys, they both confirmed it as true, saying that as black men, they feel these feelings daily.  The next day in class, I addressed the outrage of the previous day, but this time I reminded them that these articles accurately reflected the way that these two boys, and many others like them, actually feel on a daily basis.  Although the class was not actively racist, their inaction to squash racism and to not speak for those who can’t may implicate them, a difficult truth for them to accept.  This confrontation with my class brought a very harsh truth to my own attention:  when we are presented with harsh truths, we often times react badly through rejection and avoidance.  We don’t deal well with truths that challenge our thinking, and in a childlike manner, throw proverbial tantrums to either avoid the conversation or immediately prove the other person wrong.  Maybe it’s because when we hear a harsh truth, we are forced to make a choice: accept it or reject it.  Christ encountered this resistance quite often.  When He walked among us, despite that He accomplished much in His ministry on Earth, when we were confronted with the truth of Him being the Messiah, our prejudices kicked in when we chose to free a thief instead of a Nazarene, we rejected His truth as savior, and we crucified Him, an act that Peter addressed to the crowds: “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you…and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2.22-23).  The truth of His power was irrefutable, but we fought against the harsh truth of Him being our God.  Christ as our savior is a harsh truth that forces us to choose.  And like my students who bravely faced down harsh truths, we are changed in the wake of that acceptance.   Being confronted with a harsh truth is never easy, and we may hide from it, shun it, and argue it to no end.  But tackling one is absolutely life changing.  This week, stare down those truths that you have been avoiding and make your decision.  In its aftermath, your new life and view awaits.  Amen.

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