Sometimes the truth, as Christopher Morley says, comes in the night.
And sometimes it comes in the night while picking up your son.
A few days ago, I picked my son up from school. It was late. A shade before midnight. He had an away game and the bus was delayed in getting his team back to school.
When my son arrived, he dragged himself into the car. We discussed his day and the game and his homework. Normal stuff.
We talked about his AP European History class. He was all worked up and excited about feudalism.
I have never been all that interested in the study of European History or Western Civilization, for that matter, except to enumerate the many ways they are derivative of ancient African civilization.
But, I hear my son out. We agree that if he writes two research papers over the summer concerning two areas of African history before slavery, he needn’t take African-American history in school.
This is the longest I’ve had his head up from his phone, so I decided to go in for the kill so to speak. Yes. I asked him what he though of the presidential election.
And his thoughts were as cogent as any bright 15-year-old at midnight. He used words like “crazy” and “unhinged” to describe the tenor of the political discourse.
He lamented the fact that, after Bernie, there was nobody in the race he was excited about anymore.
He joked about moving out of the country if the election didn’t come out the right way.
While he was talking, however, a spirit of fatigue descended over the car. My eyelids got heavy and bobbed closed several times as I dozed off briefly, for a few seconds.
When I realized I was dozing off, I opened the window, and tightened up. We were still in the road, still in the right lane. No cars were around. We were safe. Nothing had happened.
But, something could have. My dozing off and sleeping at the wheel could have caused real harm to my son, myself or others.
Which made me think more broadly and incidentally, more metaphorically about sleep.
I wondered to myself how many times I have been asleep at the wheel of life.
How many times have I dozed off in a comfortable place while religious conservatives set a bleak and hateful religious agenda and tone in this country by misusing the scriptures?
How many times have I been asleep when young women in central Africa were being kidnapped and sold into forced marriages and sexual slavery?
How many times have I been asleep when religious and political refugees in this country and around the world are pushed to the margins of the society?
And I wondered how much harm this sleep has caused. How much harm have I allowed to happen in this world by not being awake and alert all the time to help speak truth to power and injustice.
And if my son was talking about the election, I had something of an epiphany.
We are — those of us Christian and spiritual people who believe in equality, love and justice — sleeping.
We are sleeping while individuals who, at every turn, speak and act in contradiction to Jesus’ teachings, yet avail themselves as the public face of the church.
We are certainly sleeping while those same individuals tell us that “all human lives matter,” but degrade women, the poor, racial and ethnic minorities, the disabled, veterans, and do so with God’s blessings.
We are sleeping while those same people ravage the president, his wife, and the office of the president with thinly veiled pretexts and innuendo.
We are sleeping.
And we have already seen how much damage our continual sleep has done.
But, if we don’t wake up now … if we continue to sleep and remain silent in a time as important and volatile as this, the damage will be immeasurable.