Message on my door

/ 28 August 2006

I teach in a Lutheran seminary, a place of diverse interests and myriad theological positions. Many of us post various kinds of things on our office doors — cartoons, posters, bumper stickers, photos. Right now I have a bumper sticker up that reads “Honor the dead, heal the wounded, end the war.” I also have an editorial cartoon that questions why so much attention is being paid to the alleged killer of JonBenet Ramsey when our soldiers are coming home in coffins, and a small poster that argues that how we treat people teaches love more than simply what we say (from the Wakanheza Project). I describe these by way of context.

Just this moment I came back from lunch to discover an unsigned note, penned in bright red ink, attached to my wall. It reads "I imagine, having never put yourself on the line for anything, Peace (lack of war) seems like sumum bonum. You're mistaken."

Of course now I'm intensely curious. Who left this note? What are they trying to convey? Why didn't they bother to sign it? What do they mean I've never put myself on the line? How am I mistaken? And about what?

I have to admit that this little note makes me both angry and sad. Angry, because I think our community tries to cherish open dialogue, and anonymous interventions violate that commitment. Sad, because perhaps the very reason someone felt driven to be anonymous is that they don't trust my willingness to engage, or they somehow fear that it would be dangerous to be clear about their identity.

Part of why I maintain this weblog is to create a space where I can be open about my beliefs and commitments, and also invite dialogue. That's why the "commenting" feature is always turned on. But how might I respond to this small anonymous note? Should I tack on an additional note -- perhaps in purple ink? -- and re-pin it to my bulletin board? What might I say? Help!