Those two words hold confirmation more than any other. They make a person feel validated and seen. They cause relief and understanding for someone who feels they might be the only one who thinks, believes or sees the world or their situation in this way. They are powerful words that ought to be spoken and affirmed with more regularity.
I’ve seen “me too” as a powerful form of vulnerability, helping wipe away human shame place by our culture. Brené Brown is a shame expert who has written extensively on the freedom one gains through a life of vulnerability and says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.” While I and many others have experienced this good-truth, I am beginning to see these two words (“me too”) becoming something harmful when used to affirm fear and hatred.
I’ve heard many American citizens boasting about a candidate who “says it like it is” as refreshing and honest. It’s like the suppressed and hidden prejudices we keep under wraps for propriety reasons have gained permission to rear their ugly heads when a narcissist with a loud voice yells out “me too!” I am most embarrassed by my Christian brothers and sisters who have ignored the teachings of the gospel and allowed these deeply embedded sins of racism, prejudice, fear, hate and misogyny to have a voice and gain power. Some Christians seem to justify these feelings and thoughts without the God-given shame needed to combat such evil in their hearts (that “God-given shame” is a form of grace, in my understanding). “Me too” can be freeing for good and for evil.
Not being alone in your hatred and fear while having it comfortably confirmed feels good. Humans tend to avoid pain and critical analysis of one’s fear and hate is painful. Allowing these fears of the other to take strong root, especially when the fear is confirmed by others around you, is far less painful. I am easily convinced to ignore the cries of the oppressed around me by simply removing myself from earshot. It’s hard to fight against systems of oppression and much easier to live removed from reality with my white skin and nice smile. And when a loud voice says “me too” I am confirmed in my complacency and fears.
There’s another voice out there, though. The voice of the One who had no place to lay his head, who spent his life speaking against greed and self, who stood in solidarity with the immigrant, the refugee, the poor and oppressed, the marginalized, those whom society said had the wrong gender, race or economic standing. Those in power thought they had silenced his voice at the cross, but Jesus’ “me too” resounded in his resurrection. His “me too” offers a new life of peace and love and acceptance for you, too.
Christian, you have known the painful process of laying deeply embedded fears at the foot of the cross where God-in-flesh hung to His death, and these fears and this hatred are no different. Don’t allow them to take root. It’s much easier to give into our fears and hatred than allow God to dig them out.
“Me too” can bring freedom for the oppressed or can keep them enslaved. Which voice will you listen to and follow?
Bethany Cseh is co-pastor of Catalyst Church in Arcata.