Words Matter

This morning Nigel read me a few paragraphs from an article and it turned out to be a recent piece published on the website of the Washington National Cathedral:

“…As the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, we strive to serve God and our neighbors as agents of reconciliation, a trusted voice of moral leadership and a sacred space where the country gathers during moments of national significance.” — from ‘About The Cathedral’

I’ve decided to share an extract from the article on my blog because:

  • I believe and agree that words DO matter
  • this was reinforced by what I’ve read about hate speech vs. “free speech” since the tragic mosque shootings in Christchurch (NZ) on 15 March 2019 which resulted in the deaths of 51 people and left 49 injured. As the article below states.. “Violent words lead to violent actions”. Info re the mosque tragedy:  Wikipedia article
  • at heart I’m Episcopalian even though I’ve no formal links with that denomination. I follow the excellent blog  Looking for God in messy places  by Bishop Jake Owensby and can testify he understands ‘messy places’ from his own experience and has developed an incredible understanding of Grace.
Cross on the outside of a church (New Zealand)

Have we no decency? A Response to President Trump

— an extract selected from the  original article  posted July 30, 2019

[ … ]

As faith leaders who serve at Washington National Cathedral – the sacred space where America gathers at moments of national significance – we feel compelled to ask: After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough?

[ … ]

We have come to accept a level of insult and abuse in political discourse that violates each person’s sacred identity as a child of God. We have come to accept as normal a steady stream of language and accusations coming from the highest office in the land that plays to racist elements in society.

This week, President Trump crossed another threshold. Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city. Where will he go from here?

Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.

These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.

When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president’s sense of decency, but of ours.

As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, the time for silence is over. We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation. We must say that this will not be tolerated. To stay silent in the face of such rhetoric is for us to tacitly condone the violence of these words. We are compelled to take every opportunity to oppose the indecency and dehumanization that is racism, whether it comes to us through words or actions.

There is another moment in our history worth recalling. On January 21, 2017, Washington National Cathedral hosted an interfaith national prayer service, a sacred tradition to honor the peaceful transfer of political power. We prayed for the President and his young Administration to have “wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties that they may serve all people of this nation, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.”

That remains our prayer today for us all.

The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian of Washington National Cathedral

Posted by Liz; Exploring Colour (2019)

8 thoughts on “Words Matter

Add yours

  1. Dear Liz, thank you so much for posting this. I believe my feelings are obvious from my posts of 15 March and 17 March. Any man who uses the power of the most influential office in the world to incite hatred and if not overtly incite, at least be complicit with violence and hate is in his own way a terrorist. Better we should all be betterists in our words and our actions. And we in the U.S. must vote him out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A much needed statement that is perhaps, a bit overdue…but nevertheless, a welcome one. I had read this entire piece earlier today, I believe it was in Vox. I am reminded of the words by Martin Luther King, Jr. : “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Words do indeed matter, all must be held accountable for the words they speak. I cannot help but wonder how Mr. Trump is viewed in New Zealand. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To answer your question, I found an excellent article on the response from our PM Jacinda Ardern:

      via: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12249918

      “Usually I don’t get into other people’s politics, but it will be clear to most people that I completely and utterly disagree with him.”

      “I’m quite proud that in New Zealand we take the opposite view, that we take the view that our Parliament should be a representative place, it should look and feel like New Zealand, it should have a range of different cultures and ethnicities and never should a judgement be made about the origin of anyone, and their right therefore to be in Parliament as a representative.”

      “We should celebrate our diversity, we do in New Zealand, I’m proud of that and so I obviously take a very different view to President Trump.”


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