A silence that oppresses, from Olivet alumn

By Ryan Dykhouse, Contributing Writer

Ryan Dykhouse is a 2012 graduate of Olivet Nazarene University and a first- year student at Harvard Law Student. When he is not in class, he can be found representing indigent clients with the Harvard Defenders and playing pick-up basketball. Contact Ryan at rydykhouse@gmail.com with any questions or comments.

A storm of passion, anger, and sadness has swept this country throughout the past several months as the plight of minorities in the United States has been highlighted by perversions of the justice system. The ensuing movement has been met by bigotry and militarized police responses.

But these are not the worst things the protest against injustice faces in America. What is the worst thing? Silence.

While I attended Olivet, I was taught that the pursuit of justice is a core part of what it means to be a Christian and a human being. The pursuit of justice has grounded me and flowed through everything that I have done since graduating. I have learned more lessons along the way, lessons about both the failures of our system and its inherent promises. My passion for justice has only grown, which is why the silence from my alma mater has been so disappointing.

Disappointing, because Olivet has partnered with the Center for Law and Culture to help mold future public servants to be Christian leaders. Disappointing, because of the many student groups committed to justice. Disappointing, because of the many professors and faculty leaders who commit themselves to the cause of justice through their teaching and work outside the classroom. Disappointing, because some students are willing to address what the school will not.

Some might argue with me that the issues are too controversial. They might say I am wrong to ask for something with which many on the student body and the faculty would disagree. But I ask these folks to momentarily set aside disputes about fact and think about what the issue is really all about. Is it wrong to ask for a voice, even just a still, small voice, for justice?

Justice is a system that treats each person equally under the law, without prejudice for his or her title or skin color. Justice is a Church that seeks first to understand, without jumping to conclusions or making excuses. When people are hurting, justice is comforting those who weep and listening to those who chant, protest, cry out.

Justice is vocal and active, not silent and passive. Which is what I ask for today.

The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

When black slaves cried out, some in the Church listened and acted. When blacks in the Jim Crow South cried out, some in the Church listened and acted. As minorities cry out today for justice, that #BlackLivesMatter, some in the Church are listening and acting. Does Olivet want to be among the some that don’t?

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