“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…” – Jesus, Matthew 5:43-45
This is going to be a difficult post to articulate. I think I know what I want to say but I’m not sure quite how to. Regardless, there is a good chance I’ll upset some of my more politically progressive friends. Not to worry, though, this won’t give the conservatives much to cheer about either.
Besides, if I’m pointing any fingers here I have to start with myself.
The bottom line is going to be this: Let’s all back off some from the pile-on feeding-frenzy of unrestrained attack when one more politician (or A-list entertainer… or athlete… or televangelist… or some other celebrity) falls afoul of the latest sin-du-jour.
Not just piling on, but the practice of what I’ll call “indecent glee”. So many of us don’t even pretend to stifle our delight at seeing another human being’s life fall apart. Well, so long as they belong to a group or a party we love to hate.
Then, like the mob at a lynching, we stand around the prone figure and take turns kicking with our pointy-toed shoes, mercilessly, crying for blood.
like the mob at a lynching, we stand around the prone figure and take turns kicking with our pointy-toed shoes, mercilessly, crying for blood.
But it’s not only the famous we turn on with such vitriol, it’s anyone who raises our ire. I have read accounts of ordinary people eviscerated for poor judgment or a momentary lapse. The result is often public humiliation, shaming, death threats, and even being driven from the community – when mild outrage and a few raised eyebrows should have done the job.
Fanning the flames:
I have always been a strong and vocal defender of the news media, but too many outlets are more concerned with ratings than the responsibility to be “The Fourth Estate.” How much mileage can we get from one sad event? The answer is “Endless, especially when we keep running our favorite clip to the extent that ‘reporting’ becomes indistinguishable from shouting ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theater.”
Here’s an idea. Report the news then move on. Let the police, the district attorneys, and the courts do their jobs. When public opinion becomes judge and jury we are no longer a republic of free people but a mob.
All this comes out of a conversation at my men’s Bible-study group Wednesday evening, around the topic of forgiveness.
Forgiveness does not mean letting criminals off the hook, or approving of people who commit crimes and hurt those around them. But forgiveness does mean believing in healing, and working toward reconciliation, and wanting the best possible good – even for those who need to be sanctioned.
So you don’t like the latest Hollywood mogul accused of sexual harassment? That’s fine, and kudos to the “Me-too” movement for exposing the filthy underbelly of power in the entertainment industry; but please don’t forget about due process, and justice, and the fact that this is a human being who needs redemption as well as accountability, and peace at the same time as punishment.
Okay, I understand that it is critically important that we both identify and root out corruption and the abuse of power – especially in government. But if we allow ourselves to wallow in hate and vindictiveness, and if we fall into the easy trap of making this quest any kind of a vehicle for partisan hypocrisy, then we will be making the same mistake that took the French Revolution from liberation to another form of the abuse of power it intended to unseat.
So, while we root for justice, and stand against racism, and resist chauvinism, and work for equality, and watchdog our government lest power becomes reserved for one branch alone – we had best likewise take care that we do not emulate the excesses of change-agents like Robespierre in France, who encouraged denouncement at every turn, placing the terror of “Je dénonce” into the hands of the mob, the social media of its day.
Jesus launched the most dramatic campaign against sin and the abuse of power in the history of humankind. And he did it while both loving his enemies and requiring his followers to do the same.
Peace, and more peace – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.