Yes World, It’s That Bad Here in America—and Worse
by John Pavlovitz, a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. johnpavlovitz.com
A reader from Australia texted me last night. He’d been watching the news and said he wanted to check on me.
We’re heartbroken to hear what’s going on there. he wrote. Is it really as bad as it looks?
Another sweet friend from England messaged me this morning, with similar concern for me and for our nation, based on what she’s been reading and seeing in the media.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had many kind-hearted people from all over the world make similar inquiries about America, asking if it is as dire and alarming up close as it appears from a distance.
Yes, it is.
In fact, it’s far worse here on the ground, because all the ugliness you can see from thousands of miles away (outside of a few politician’s faces) is probably still rather abstract—a largely undefinable, faceless wave of malice and bigotry, something to be analyzed and studied later.
But here on the ground this malignant sickness has a face, one that is far too familiar:
It’s the face of family members whose newly revealed racism is regularly leveling us around the dinner table.
It’s the face of former church friends, who have completely abandoned the Jesus they claim faith in and chosen the vilest of idols.
It’s the face of once pleasant neighbors who casually regurgitate extremist propaganda in sidewalk conversations.
It’s the face of childhood friends spewing anti-immigrant filth on their social media profiles.
It’s the face of storeowners and hair stylists and restaurant workers, the interactions with whom, have become walks through minefields.
So yes, it’s the staggering cruelty of those holding the power here—but just as much it’s the people we know and live alongside who are so gladly empowering them.
Yes, it’s the complete b@stardization of the rule of law and the systems of protections our forebears put in place to avoid putting our nation in such peril—but it’s our coworkers and uncles and classmates who don’t seem to give d@mn about that.
Yes, it’s our President’s absolute sociopathic lack of empathy and his unrepentant viciousness—but it’s the people we’ve shared Thanksgiving dinner with and served on mission trips alongside, who share his venom and boost his signal.
Yes, it’s our Government’s incessant attacks on LGBTQ people and immigrants and Muslims and the sick and the vulnerable—but it’s the once kind-hearted people we love, who have been so poisoned by partisan talking points and perverted Christian theology that they celebrate all of it.
That’s why this is all so bad.
We’re certainly losing the big things here: the integrity of our elections, the stability of our Republic, the faith in our systems, the illusion that our Republican leaders will put anything over power and party.
But we’re losing much more than that.
We’re losing the soft places we called home: our families and our churches and our circle of friends.
We are swiftly and almost hourly seeing the relational fractures that may have always been there beneath the surface, but are now visible and cavernous.
We’re trying to decide whether to fight for relationships we’ve spent our lives nurturing, or whether we need to severe those connections in the name of self-preservation.
These things will never make the news or make a global impact—but they are rocking our personal worlds to the bedrock.
So we’re marching and protesting and working and resisting in the face of this monumental and historically malevolent national political cancer—and while we’re doing that, we’re also trying to preserve our families and our friendships and our workplaces, which are also hanging by a thread.
This is a Constitutional crisis and it’s a family emergency.
We’re wondering what happened to our nation—and what the h*ll happened to our grandparents, siblings, and best friends.
Yes, our Democracy is in peril, but our most treasured relationships with people are in tatters too.
We are trying to salvage both and it’s g%%&&n exhausting.
So yes, friends around the world, thank you for caring about us in America.
It is as bad as it looks from where you’re standing.
But it’s far worse, too.