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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    Rhetoric and Responsibility

    Aleese Kenitzer
    Aleese Kenitzer
    Aleese Kenitzer serves as the pastor of Shepherd of the Cross Church in Muscatine.

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    At this point, we’re just shy of three weeks from election day. If you’re anything like me, my mailbox has been plumb full of political campaign ads, and my phone has received its fair share of calls in pursuit of my vote. Last month, the world saw a presidential debate turn into chaos, interruption, and name-calling. In these last few weeks before the election, we can expect the rhetoric will continue, if not grow more intense.

    But in truth, I’m sick of it. Maybe that’s not even strong enough language. Let’s try again. I am disgusted by it. Yes, even as a faith leader in this community, I’ll come right out and say it; it pains me to see people within leadership positions act in ways that denigrate one another’s human worth and dignity. Further, it saddens me to witness people within leadership positions speak in ways that negate realities of injustice that, even in 2020, continue to exist.

    Truth be told, I doubt that I’m the only one who is pained to see this behavior on center stage. I doubt that I’m the only one saddened to witness situations of injustice that have yet to be called out for what they are. I hope and I pray that the rhetoric we hear right now will subside post-election. I hope and I pray that, in time, our leaders will see one another as workers on the same playing field, laboring toward a common goal for all humanity.

    I do hope and pray that things will change. It’s one reason why I will use my voice and vote in the upcoming election. But recently, it’s become clear to me that I can’t just leave it at that. Instead, if I claim to be a follower of Jesus, it’s time for me to step up to the plate. It’s time for me to be mindful of how I am talking about others – whether political leaders, or leaders in the community, or simply people I interact with. It’s time for me to be mindful of how I hear others talking amongst each other, and work to put an end to conversation that only spirals putting people in one camp or the other. It’s time for me to be mindful of people and situations that need my voice to advocate on their behalf so that they too can be given the worth and dignity they deserve.

    It’s time for me to step up to the plate, but what would happen if we all stepped up to the plate? What would happen if we all claimed our responsibility in changing the rhetoric, changing the way we interact with each other, and changing our culture?

    Everything isn’t going to be “great” the day after the election. It’s going to take time for us to recalibrate. In time, I do think that each of us, in who we are, how we interact, and in what we choose to do or not to do, have the power to shift what’s happening around us and in us. It just might take each of us stepping up to the plate, together.

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