David Dark on the “alluring currency of access” to “powerful people”

Power is seductive. This, at least, is the case I tried to make in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump when writing about Donald Trump’s court evangelicals.

Writer David Dark describes the allure much better than I ever could. Here is a taste of his piece at America: “Why are Republicans sticking with Trump? Peer pressure–and we’re all susceptible to it.”

If the price of admission within my peer group is the frequent suppression of my own conscience, I would like to argue that the price is too high. One hard-won, ongoing lesson of the last four years, especially among those of us who are coming to see our own deep complicity in white supremacist thinking, is the realization that silence is complicity. How do I honor and heed the prophet within me when my fear compels me to keep it all hid? Slowly, creatively and, I imagine, sometimes suddenly, together with others, one brave and risky conversation at a time. In this, Thomas Merton offers a sanity-restoring word: “It is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.” To believe this is to hold a sacred conception of culture within which the evasion of conscience and the avoidance of conflict are never acceptable means to some other end. The end is in the means.

What does the saving reality of personal relationships require of us? We need to make sure we are not letting deferential fear do our thinking for us. This is the challenge even when we are not confronting an attempted coup involving elected officials and political appointees refusing to concede after a presidential election. It appears before us in myriad settings throughout our lives: the pressure to keep the peace that is no peace, the pressure to play along. The problem here is civil obedience. Our presumed consent functions as a free pass for abuse.

“What devil possessed me that I behaved so well?” David Thoreau once asked himself. Do I know someone whose soul is ill-served by my deferential fear? In the land of the free, what do I owe people whose lives are endangered by my silence? Thinking through these questions and applying them to our contexts requires wisdom and discernment, but we are not without resources. Others have been here before. Same as it ever was. Come together. Education is forever.

Read the entire piece here.