I think as journalists, clearly we are professionals. Clearly, this is what we signed up to do, and we can’t let any of this fog our vision. We have to be clear-headed and sober in digesting this information, analyzing what’s going on. But I think as journalists who are also humans, I don’t think we do a good enough job identifying that there actually is a weight here, that this does take a toll in some way. I think we’re taught to be vigilant, and courageous, and speak the truth and shine light in very dark places, but that means you have to go to very dark places and shine light. That can take a lot out of you.
Trymaine Lee speaking with Gene Demby of NPR about the personal toll of covering the interactions between African-Americans and police in Ferguson, Mo. in the year after Michael Brown’s death.
The Lectionary has had me reading Acts this month, and it’s not a comforting read. Every day it’s preaching and beatings, imprisonment, court appearances, and so much posturing and conniving by various officials. I am following Paul from city to city, but no matter where the story goes, what I’m feeling is “no way out.”
So I was thinking about Paul when I read a passage in Mark. Speaking of coming persecutions Jesus says, “But take heed to yourselves; for they will deliver you up to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them.” (Mark 13:9)
And for the first time I saw the trials as a form of stealth–how else would you get an audience to witness to these people? You have to stand before the council. It’s the only way in, and we have to get in, but it’s a dark and dangerous path and it’s almost certainly a one way trip.
I believe that Christians, like journalists, are called to go to the dark places to speak truth and shine light. We cannot be content that there is darkness in the world or that we will always have the poor. But I feel the fear. And like the third servant in the Parable of the Talents, I know that God is demanding and the world is harsh, and I am tempted to bury my faith instead of trying to convince others to share it.
The lesson, I suppose, is that whether you act or fail to act, there is always a cost. There is no dodge. It’s what we signed on for, but we’re told the Spirit will give us words, so in the darkness we might proclaim light.