Archive for October, 2015

Isaiah 1:18

October 15, 2015

So I was having lunch with a good friend yesterday and, like usual with this particular gentlemen, our conversation drifted into politics. This is, of course, the best thing to discuss between good friends over good Mexican food. While having an excellent conversation, he made a statement that I myself have made to other people in recent history, and it gave me a sort of validation for my social observation. Our culture, that of the United States, is having a huge problem being able to handle the opinions of other people without responding to said opinion with frustration, fear, anger, and hate.

For many parts of the world, and I suspect a small minority of people here in the USA, intellectual debate and conversations about religion and politics are welcomed, cherished pastimes. However, for what seems like the majority of people in our country today, debates and conversation cannot take place without someone feeling threatened, belittled, oppressed, or insulted. This often, it seems, has little to do with the conversation itself.

A great many people in this country find it incredibly difficult to have someone completely disagree with them. Often the shock of disagreement moves many to the defense of throwing insults and calling names, all with venom and malice dripping from every word.

I think it needs to be plainly stated and greatly emphasized that to disagree with someone is nothing more than that, a disagreement. There are no further implications that need to be made past that. Disagreements on politics should never render someone a “heartless, greedy Conservative” or a “Socialist, hippie Liberal,” nor should disagreements on social issues end with people being labeled with racial slurs, sexually insultive terms, or slander toward one’s intelligence. To say you don’t support someone’s choices, affirm their lifestyle, or agree with their political stance is NOT the same thing as hating that person for being born.

As a Christian, I try, and sometimes fail, to emulate the love and teachings of Jesus, a teacher who saved his insults and name calling for those who oppressed and subjugated others, (See Matthew 12:34 and Matthew 23:33) but even then his monikers for those people were founded more in descriptive names based on traits that they possessed, not simply giving them a name to offend them.

I once read a theologian who described the act of debates itself as divine, that to have a relationship with any depth requires conversation, sometimes even disagreeing. Abraham debates with God about sparing the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of his nephew, Moses verbally spars with God for the fate of the people of Israel, Jonah converses with God over the people of Nineveh, and Jesus responds to almost every question he is asked with another question. “What do you think?” or “How do you understand it?”

We cannot and must not equate someone else’s line of thinking that differs from our own as evil, stupid, or hateful. To say you disagree with someone’s place on a subject is not bigotous, close-minded, or hateful.

We can discuss, debate, reason, converse, laugh, joke, cry, regret, and find common ground from all sorts of different religions, races, sexual preferences, and ethnicities. We must not be afraid of different, but instead must try to understand why that person believes and speaks as they do. Remember the words of another great philosophical teacher, “Fear is the path to the darkside. Fear leads anger, anger leads to hate; that leads to suffering.”

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.”