Drawing Ridicule

I AM ENCOURAGED by your effort to look at the world in a different way. You express in your words and action a desire to be guided by the Spirit. This witness is so important and has been very valuable to me.

I must express a concern, however, over a very small but to me a powerful expression of Sojourners' political opinion. I share so many of the concerns you have about political leadership, which can be misguided, shortsighted, and negligent when it comes to issues of justice in our world. However, I feel strongly that the kind of personal ridicule, so often narrow in its attack, that is embodied in many political cartoons, including Sojourners' "Drawing the Line" (by Matt Wuerker), weakens, for me, the powerful impact of the words and activism of a community of people committed to finding new ways to work for justice.

Creating caricatures and ridiculing political leaders or some group in society in political cartoons, however strongly we may disagree with or object to their leadership or behavior, too often places judgment on the character of the individual or group. This type of critique, rather than providing deeper and broader understanding of some painful or important concern, can too often lead us to dehumanize and reinforce a spirit of antagonism toward those with whom we disagree.

I believe we are called to respond forcefully to what we see as injustice. Should not our response be one, however, that does not judge or ridicule, but demands accountability through our vigilant, yet nonviolent, witness to God's healing power? This is a goal I see Sojourners working so hard to meet. Your message and example are enlightening to me. I wish that "Drawing the Line" did not diminish the light that I experience when I read Sojourners, but it does.

Thomas Russell

Oneonta, New York

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Sojourners Magazine January 1994
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