“Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”
John Wayne said it best, but he was quoting William Penn, who was repeating an idea that seems to have been expressed by almost every culture at some point. Given the fact that the idea pops up so often in writing, it must be something that needs to be said again and again. So let’s simply remind ourselves once more – right and wrong exist, and being right doesn’t have anything to do with the volume of the message, nor the number of people saying it.
In our readings today, we see examples from Jeremiah and Psalm 69 of the feelings we can have when we are right, though we are surrounded by others who disagree. We first have to truly consider whether or not we are in the right, but even when we are, this likely won’t mean that we are popular for it. When this happens, we can often have feelings of isolation, fear of others’ intentions, dejection at the loss of friendship, etc. All of these things are addressed in Scripture over and over, and the solution is always the same.
Jeremiah and the Psalmist and Job and Jesus Christ Himself all turn to the Father, confident that God not only hears our prayers, but also answers them according to His Will. In these moments, when we feel (or are made to feel) alone, why would we do anything else? Why wouldn’t we simply reach out in that moment with the same confidence in God’s presence and love? It is because sometimes we believe the lie, sometimes we believe that we are alone.
The pressure to be a part of the group is quite powerful, and can make us panic into giving up on our principles. Furthermore, the feeling of being part of something can be quite intoxicating. To say that this is simply not rocking the boat is too simple, and cheapens the fact that we are deeply affected by relationships in our lives. It really hurts when we are opposed to one another, and it can feel very fulfilling when we are all together. But these feelings, through no fault of our own, may be leading us away from the Truth.
We cannot control our feelings, but we are responsible to do what is right, whether it fills our hearts or breaks them. These are the moments when we need the guidance that only God can provide. To trust in God enough that we can stand apart will also help us to know when to stand with others. This is easier said than done, because we aren’t just talking about “others,” we are talking about our friends, neighbors, coworkers, parents, siblings, and children. We are talking about standing with or against the people we love.
But we must finally ask ourselves this: who do I trust so much, love so much, that I couldn’t possibly stand against them? The answer must be God alone.