Self-censorship is on the rise according to a new Cato Institute survey that reports nearly two-thirds of Americans are afraid to share their political views. “31% of liberals, 30% of moderates and 34% of conservatives are worried their political views could get them fired or harm their careers,” the Cato survey stated. “There has been shifts across the board, where more people among all political groups feel they are walking on eggshells,” the survey found, adding, “majorities of Democrats (52%), independents (59%) and Republicans (72%) who all agree they have political opinions they are afraid to share.”
In the midst of this self-censoring, white conservative Robert George and liberal African American Cornel West have issued a joint appeal to their fellow Americans, “to unite the country, we need honesty and courage.” This ideological odd couple because of their own long friendship, believe, “honesty and courage alone can save our wounded, disunited country now.”
They believe, “We need the honesty and courage to speak the truth – including painful truths that unsettle not only our foes but also our friends and, most especially, ourselves.” This statement is sure convicting to me. Even more so are these words, “We need the honesty and courage to recognize the faults, flaws and failings of even the greatest of our heroes – and to acknowledge our own faults, flaws and failings.”
Here is more of what they had to say, “We need the honesty and courage not to compromise our beliefs or go silent on them out of desire to be accepted, or our of fear of being ostracized, excluded, or canceled.”
“We need the honesty and courage to consider with an open mind and heart points of view that challenge our beliefs – even our deepest, most cherished identity-forming beliefs. We need the intellectual humility to recognize our own fallibility – and that, too, requires honesty and courage.”
These two men are putting before us a real challenge. Their cry: “We need the honesty and courage to speak the truth.” But how do we go about speaking the truth of the gospel, while doing it with honesty and courage in the culture that is so divided.
I thought of the words of Jesus in Mark 13:11 when He tells his disciples they will have difficulty. “When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don’t worry about what you’ll say. When the time comes, say what’s on your heart – the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you” (Mark 13:11 MGS).
These words should give us hope of staying in the battle. We need to remember that it is about Jesus not our agenda. The Message puts it this way – “I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God” ( Gal 2:20 MSG).
Jesus is the truth (John 8:32). That is settled, Our aim should be to give witness to His reign in the earth of which we are a part. This should give us confidence to be honest and have courage. Jesus promised help. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas, he will be telling you what he has heard” (John 16:13).
Lord, help us to stay in the battle for you. Remember – “Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Col 4:5-6 MSG).