I don’t know about you, but I get weary of seeing the violence in Syria every night on the news, hearing the updates on North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt. I get tired learning more details about drones spying, people hating each other, and politicians lying or ignoring the poor while they continue to serve their rich constituencies. And that’s not even mentioning the local crime and violence in Fort Wayne. It looks like people are quite content to simply behave badly, from a completely self-centered view of the world—and this includes those people who claim to have faith in God or some higher duty.
While I sometimes feel that I am completely fed up with all of it, I also know that to linger in feelings of judgment or negativity are good for me. The result, sometimes, is that I simply try to “bracket off” those feelings and pretend they don’t exist. Repressing these feelings and observations seems like a viable alternative to opening focusing on humanity’s collective lack of concern.
It is natural, I think, to feel let down and disappointed when we witness fellow humans behaving in ways that are greedy, selfish, violent, or uncaring, but there are also ways to process that disappointment without sinking into hopelessness. It’s one thing to accept our feelings for being what they are—every good therapist will tell you that much—but I can’t help but think there are other ways to respond to world events that might actually be a positive move toward change. Perhaps I might consider ways I might ameliorate a given situation in a concrete and personal way.
As is generally the case, I can start with myself, using my awareness of the shortcomings of others to renew my own commitment to become a more ethical human being myself. There is a reason why I am able to see the faults of others so clearly, and that’s because I am capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer. As we all are. Remembering this is important because it keeps us in union with everyone, the good and the bad, and it allows us a clearer vantage point from which to keep check over our own choices and actions. And in the mix of attentiveness to what is morally unjust combined with self-awareness and the humanity I share with all people, I can find compassion for everyone involved.
Where I myself have felt victimized by injustice, I can feel compassion for others suffering unjust treatment and speak out on their behalf. Because I share the basic human tendency to engage in words or acts of violence, I can have sympathy for the aggressors knowing that they are just as victimized as the people they persecute. It’s because they have allowed themselves to function as less than what they are called to be that links them to me: I behave and speak and act in ways that are often enough far less than what I myself am called to be.
In the final analysis, the choice is ours. We can choose to serve the best instincts within us as placed there by God, or we can continue to serve the worst of our common humanity through our judgment, negativity and continuing focus on what is wrong with us. Despite all evidence to the contrary, humanity is, at its best, a visible, sacramental sign of the enduring love of our God. Whenever we choose to insist that this is so, even in challenging times, we help effect the Reign of God.
Wish you a week of clarity and devotion to the God who saves us all.