Martin Shkreli, the man who raised prices on various life-saving drugs purely for profit, testified before Congress recently:
What really struck me in this video, was the plea of Mr. Cummings.
He lifted up the truth of the impact of Mr. Shkreli’s actions, but did not merely question or shame or condemn him. Instead, he turned the interrogation into a witness to the power of transformation. While so much of the world has written off Mr. Shkreli as a terrible, rotten person who deserves the worst the world can throw at him, Mr. Cummings spoke to his better angels.
“You have a spotlight and you have a platform.”
“I truly believe you could become a force of tremendous good.”
“There’s so many people that could use your help. May God bless you.”
And you could see, for a moment, Mr. Shkreli squirming in his seat.
How do we, as the church, speak the truth to people who have power? We do it in love.
Shouting has its moments, but sometimes truth-telling happens with a quiet voice… a persistent voice (“are you listening?”)… that requires the other to pay attention.
Sometimes, it is the vision of what could be that is just as effective as what has been.
Sometimes, we appeal to the Kingdom of God by naming the small kernel of possibility and hope we see in the humanity of another person… even if it is really, really, really tiny.
Our politics and discourse with one another these days is so vicious and dividing. It happens in elections and in our capitols and it happens in our church life as well.
What if instead we reached out to one another like Mr. Cummings?
What if instead we listened to the words of Christ in Matthew 5:43-45?
Love your enemies and pray for those who harass you.
Just as Mr. Shkreli has a platform and a spotlight, so do you, with every action you take every day. And you have a chance to stand there and speak for truth and justice and love.