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To find some way to speak the truth

April 26, 2022

If you knew me, you would see my heart recently breaking for Bonners Ferry ... the place that I love, the people I cherish and the values that this community instilled in me. You would know that I feel cowardice every time I remain silent amongst family, friends and neighbors. Yet I often remain silent, and I do not share my name.

If you knew me, you would see fear battling conviction ... fear that opening my mouth will inspire judgment ... but shame when I keep it shut and allow a courageous few to speak truth for me.

I may not share my name, but most of you know me and many more feel the same.

You might see a Christian, a parent, a neighbor ... even a relatively successful person. So what do I have to fear?

You might consider me a conservative, or you may think I’m more of a liberal. You might see me as a patriot ... a flag-waving, freedom-loving American. You might also see that I’m ashamed of the neighbors who I see disrespecting the flag by tearing it to shreds in the back of their pick-up or waving it near others that I prefer my children don’t read.

Regardless, you might choose to judge me, to pigeon-hole me, or to dismiss me, if every statement I make doesn’t align with your worldview. I might lose my business, my status or my job security. Worse yet, you might hurt my family with hateful criticism, like I have recently seen in conflicts online ... stoked by the righteousness of strangers and carried out against friends and neighbors.

If you knew me, you would know that I love my guns enough to respect the damage that they can do ... that I hunt, that I support concealed weapons, and that I believe in the Second Amendment ... but I also fear it.

If you knew me, you might recognize my apprehension as I approach a fellow shopper who dons a weapon, camouflage and body armor while speaking of revolutions in the grocery line ... or my fear when I see a young mother who leaves her handgun unattended and within reach of her preschooler.

If you knew me, you would realize that I love the officers who choose to put on uniforms every day and do their utmost to uphold the laws and values of our community. I look up to many and consider them friends.

If you knew me, you might see that my privilege brings me less guilt than sadness for my ignorance. Recognizing privilege makes no assumptions about my intentions, nor does it measure whether or not I deserve more than a minority. It isn’t a judgment or a choice; it just is.

If you knew me, you would know that I don’t judge you, even though you still don’t understand.

If you knew me, you would know that I love my church, but I recognize evil in some ideas that people associate with Christianity.

If you knew me, you would know that I love a God who loves all people, a God whose words condemn pride and judgment far more than gender and orientation. You would know that I cry for the people I love who reject God and refuse to come to a space that consistently rejects them.

If you knew me, you would know that I believe in a God whose Word repeats “love one another” so many times that even the youngest child in Sunday school understands that lesson in Scripture.

So when I hear people speak about the values of North Idaho, I don’t think they know me, even if they know my name.

Some might say, “This is how we live in North Idaho. This is what we value.”

No, it isn’t. North Idaho never taught me to wear a weapon as a status symbol or a measure of my courage. North Idaho never taught me to be a bigot, a racist or a person who marginalizes others, and this town sure didn’t teach me to attack other people simply because we disagree.

Recently, it has taught me what happens as we avoid respectfully challenging each other, and when we stop listening to each other, using God as a means to justify denying human rights. I see this every day.

It also taught me love, what it means to be a neighbor ... to find some way to speak the truth.
Bonners Ferry

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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