Before anyone decides to dismiss the article because I’ve chosen to center it around a quote from Frozen II, allow me to start with a little story time. I remember sitting in the darkened theatre in November sobbing after hearing those very words because it was such a simple, yet evocative way to say that failure is giving up. I also remember thinking “wow, I need to write about this eventually.” And naturally time slipped by me then the world kind of, sort of essentially started falling apart. Here we are, seven months later, and I suppose there’s a reason I didn’t write something then.
I can’t remember a time in history where something bad happened every single day the way it has in 2020. The brutal and blatantly racist killings of Black men and women in the hands of police offers. Famines, a pandemic, and genocide in Yemen. The constant and horrific threats Filipinos are facing in their own country Further attacks from Azerbaijan towards Artsakh/Armenia. If I list everything, this wouldn’t end. Oh, and let’s not forget the ongoing pandemic that’s causing incessant arguments on scientific legitimacy and face coverings invading human freedom. I’m an optimist, I can often find the silver lining in almost anything but accepting that things won’t get better any time soon has been my new normal. But that’s where “do the next right thing” comes in.
James 2:8 states “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.”
The royal law. Christianity, the chosen relationship with Christ as our Savior is a religion founded on selfless, sacrificial love yet everything that’s happening in the world, including the choices political leaders make is the very opposite of royal law. The Bible does not give us a list of exclusions when Christ tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. It doesn’t, at any point state that if your neighbor’s skin color, sexual orientation, or religion differs from yours that you must then cast stones. (And for those familiar with the Bible, you know that Jesus wouldn’t even cast said stones on anyone, even the most vile of sinners.) So why on earth do we as human beings consistently see ourselves as superior to others?
2020 has done a lot of teaching thus far. As a white woman who’s believed to have been somewhat educated in my privilege, the Black Lives Matter movement following George Floyd’s brutal murder, the blatant lack of justice for Breonna Taylor to this day (July 17, 2020), and the lynching of multiple Black men, has allowed me to understand that I actually have a long, long way to go. As do many of us. The reality is, we’re going to be learning our whole lives—human beings are incredibly flawed, complex individuals who’ll essentially never reach utmost perfection. I’ve been reading a lot these days. I’ve watched all documentaries available on streaming networks. I’m still reading and watching. I’m still listening. Because for now, in this moment, that’s the right thing. And how we determine this is by listening to the individuals whose experiences don’t mirror our own. Today, the right thing is listening and amplifying Black voices who’ve been silenced too many times to count. The right thing is putting our attention to Black owned businesses. The right thing is learning how to be an anti-racist for not being a racist is no longer enough. The right thing is to continue learning.
When we watch Black men and women lose their lives to police brutality, it’s our duty to do everything we can to help. When we watch human beings lose their lives or jobs because of their sexual orientation, it’s our duty to do everything we can to help. When we watch immigrants lose the opportunities this country supposedly promises as the land of the free, it’s our duty to do everything we can to help. Bottom line is, the world is a deeply twisted, horrifically unkind place today and it’s overwhelming to feel both hopeless and helpless. It’s overwhelming not to know how to do right by each other as a civilization where coexisting should not be such a difficult task.
In America, anything and everything is turned into a political stance, which is why we’re unsurprisingly still fighting the novel Covid-19 virus in July. Basic human rights should never be a political discussion. Basic human rights should never prelude conversations about the left or right wing. Basic human rights should never be a religious debate especially, when the Bible is an entire plea for equality for all. I can think of a thousand and one things to debate about, but good Lord, human rights shouldn’t be one to those things. The next right thing should always be the thing that benefits other human beings. Isn’t that our purpose in this world? To make it just a little bit better. Liberty and justice for all comes with a list of exclusions but the Bible does not—and quite frankly, I’m tired of watching fellow Christians defend a flag, the confederacy, and thus white supremacy more fervently than they defend the injustices in this world that’s targeted towards marginalized individuals. I’m tired of watching Christians preach pro-life but turn the other cheek and bully someone when they come out as a member of the LGBTQ community. I’m tired of pro-life equating to a spitting image of one’s own otherwise it doesn’t deserve the same rights they do.
I’m tired of the fact that mandated guidelines to wear a mask are an even bigger threat to some than the fact that this country doesn’t have careful, stricter gun laws. It’s imperative that we look into ourselves and ask if we’re actually doing the right thing in the face of adversaries. Why is a piece of cloth designed to temporarily cover our mouth and nose such a threat to freedom?
When the 2020 lockdowns began in March, I kept getting “well, you’re a homebody, you must love this” remarks. False. I might be a homebody, but I also love company. I love entertaining, hosting movie nights, wine + cheese dinners, etc. I also, shockingly, enjoy going out. As much as I love staying home, I didn’t love being told to stay home. No one wants to be told what to do. No one thrives on not having a choice. I wasn’t staying home because it’s what I wanted to do, I was staying home because it’s what needed to be done to stop the spread of the virus. It was and still is, the next right thing to do.
As a follower of Christ, my sole mission is to how to be more like him. What would Jesus do? None of us really know the answer to this, but simply put, the Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. And today, wearing a mask isn’t conforming to a side of the big bad political agenda, it’s loving our neighbors. It’s the next right thing.
We’ve woken up to bad news every single day this year, deaths that have hurt immensely even when we didn’t know the people, but yet, the incessant complaints about statewide closures and mask guidelines continue to be a topic of discussion. Politics has often been a topic I’ve avoided on the internet. My anxiety towards confrontation and debates has led to my silence, but today, my silence is harmful. Today, the next right thing is speaking up.
As Christians, we are told to pray for our country’s leaders, I’ve done so—believe me, I have. The president of the United States is a deeply corrupt, profoundly broken human being who’s in need of great guidance. There’s hatred in his heart towards all who don’t mirror his singleminded image, and in all honesty, I pray for the Lord to soften his heart. We are all made in Christ’s image, yet the belief that some of us are better than others is the governing agenda in the White House. Trump needs help. He needs to understand what it truly means to know the Bible he so willfully enjoys parading around like a prop. He needs to understand that each and every human being on this planet is anointed by the very God he claims to believe in to do what they can to serve the world. Believing in science does not undermine the belief in God and it doesn’t equate to living in fear. Just as I, a writer, cannot claim expertise on quantum physics, a businessman cannot claim to know more than a scientist. And thus, as Christians, trusting God means trusting that the doctors he’s placed in the frontlines will give us the necessary treatment to fix whatever’s broken, infected, damaged, etc.
Isaiah 54:17 states: “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.” This precise verse is intended to remind us of the fact that God’s protecting us, but simultaneously, it isn’t a free pass to run in fire and question why we were burned. There’s corruption everywhere. There’s not a single field where bad apples aren’t present, but what this verse tells me is that if I do all that I can, God will protect me. If masks are meant to protect us then why not look at them as the very shield of armor the Lord tells us to put on? We don’t claim we’re protected by God then drive recklessly without a seatbelt. Trusting God means trusting that the shields he’s provided for us will work.
Additionally, the hypocrisy between calling out those who comply by the guidelines of governors in an opposing political party yet choosing to obey a president who has proven to be in over his head is blatantly discrediting the bigger picture. And thus, to call the opposing side “brainwashed sheep” also goes against the Bible’s teaching. Romans 13:1-2 verifies this belief by stating: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Fellow Christians, we have to do better. When the experts, in this case, since we’re dealing with a pandemic, the scientists, epidemiologists tell us that a piece of cloth can help, we lose absolutely nothing by complying with said guideline. If they told us all to run in traffic perhaps then let the rebellion begin. But the next right thing, loving our neighbor means logically, faithfully, and wholeheartedly assessing the situation in front of us to ensure that we make the selfless, most loving choice possible. If our government told us to kill those who don’t look like us, let the rebellion begin once more.
“Rebellions are built hope.” I kept repeating this to myself a while back and trying to understand where people find hope in disregarding experts. Hope, in this case, is a piece of a cloth. Hope in this case is placing our faith in a God that knows what he’s doing by allowing the experts to speak where they know the material. A piece of cloth has never harmed anyone, except that it isn’t aesthetically pleasing but if I can get over that with my ridiculous desire to always look my best, then so can you.
To rebel when it doesn’t benefit humanity as a whole is no longer a rebellion. It’s no longer a resistance, it’s ignorance. If the rebels didn’t see that the death star is a threat and idly stood by, a galaxy far far away would look very different. And even if it was a hoax, even if the big bad dark side made it up, their preparation could’ve saved them. Better safe than sorry–bored today, alive tomorrow.
The next right thing should always come alongside love. It should always be about how we can help other people. It should always be about coexisting and spreading Jesus’ love as far and as wide as possible. We’re not going to do that by putting pride and white superiority above love. We’re not going to achieve spreading Christ’s love by being pro-life and anti-Blackness, anti-LGBTQ, Xenophobic, or Islamophobic. If we’re going to be pro-life, we must be pro all lives and in this case, all lives is thrown around in a blatant attempt to refuse to acknowledge what Black Lives Matter truly means. All lives cannot matter if we choose not to wear a mask and put others at risk.
The Bible was written long ago—it contradicts itself consistently and we as Christians are known to pick and choose what we take away from it. So why not take away the very royal love that’s mentioned more times in the Bible than anything else. We cannot be pro-life but choose to walk around stores mask less when there’s a pandemic happening. We cannot be pro-life but only respect that life when it looks and acts just like us. We cannot be pro-life but choose to selfishly undermine the words of professionals. For even if they’re wrong, the next right thing we can do is choose to be selfless anyway.
This article is all over the place. I’m fully aware of that. I deserted the idea that it should be perfect because I needed to work through the persistent anxiety that’s been heightened since March. I’m a Christ fan of above all. I’m a giant (but physically short) geek. I’m the daughter of first-generation Armenian immigrants. I’m a woman who walks around with her keys between her knuckles, her words constantly neglected, and on birth control because my body is susceptible to cancerous cysts. (Oh, but wait, doesn’t my body, my choice simply apply to masks? Oops.) I’m an avid reader, researcher, and TV watcher with a lot of useless knowledge. And I’m a human being who’s tired of watching bad shit consistently happen. I’m tired of feeling helpless. So that’s essentially why I wrote this article, it’s all over the place, but so is the whole damn world right now.
The next right thing for me was abandoning silence and speaking up. The next right thing for me in spreading God’s love is actively rooting for equality and human rights. If I have to go through years of education just to be considered a credible writer and have five to six years of experience to be some sort of a production assistant, then police officers in America should be reformed and defunded. This world can be a decent place, it can thrive, but as Christians, we need to step it up and put our love where it’s needed most. Advocate for human rights as much as you advocate for temporary beach closures. The beaches aren’t going anywhere, the lives that have been lost, however won’t return.
I’m open to discussions, civil and thought-out, blatant hate will be ignored and blocked. Let’s do better, fellow geeks. Fangirls are some of the most influential people on the internet and if we started speaking up more about important issues in the world, we’d get superb results.