Sunday, January 22, 2017
I've got a secret. I'm going to let you in on it. Shh. Here it is: We are not living in a Disney movie where it's all the good guys and the bad guys. We are living in the real world where some people do some really bad things some of the time, where some people do some really good things some of the time; where most people have a lot of good in their hearts, and where there's never anyone among us who doesn't ever do anything "bad", however large or small.
Oh no, but, 'I thank thee, Lord, that I am not like one of these sinners', said the Pharisee, whom Our Lord mentioned in order to say that the Publican who called himself a sinner did the better thing. And I am not using this example to call names; I'm not calling anyone a Pharisee as if I'm better (that would make me the Pharisee, wouldn't it?). Someone dear to me and I used to laughingly refer to this parable in order to remind ourselves of who we should be. I share it in that spirit.
Sometimes we talk about all the division as if it's a bad thing, and yet then sometimes fall into saying the divisive word, "they". Who is "they"? I fear we fall into the Disney movie or the sports competition mentality sometimes, and we either make everyone 'the good and the bad' or we think of it as 'our team and the opponents'. But really, aren't we all just mostly good but fallible human beings? Unless the antecedent to our pronoun is very, very clear, we would be better off to stop using that pronoun "they" as much as possible. My opinion. But I am right, am I not? :)
Another thing. If a public figure does or says something we don't agree with or approve, and it is highly public - or mostly if it is something that could directly affect us or others we care about - then we can talk about it because it is of public knowledge and concern (although again, public figures are human beings and should all be treated as such). But if someone talks about someone in a derogatory way, someone involving a victim of people's tongues, and then, in our outrage, we pass that along, saying, "Oh my, that's so terrible....Did you hear about that?", then I'm afraid more people come to know. More people come to be talking about that person. Are we sharing it to help that child or to help our goal of pointing out how bad our "opponent" is...that "they"? I learn so many things from social media that I honestly didn't need to know. Don't you? Or maybe that's me because I don't spend a lot of time watching the news. I mostly read the news, and mostly what I feel is pertinent to my concerns.
One more thing. It's not unloving to have opinions. It's not unloving to discuss those opinions. But name calling hurts real people. Even if we would not call our family member, friend, or neighbor a name, if we call names about "people who"...(fill in the blank), we might inadvertently being calling our family member, friend, or neighbor that name.
Love isn't about saying, "We all need to agree". It isn't saying we shouldn't fight, in respectful ways, against attitudes and actions that concern us. But love says, I see you. Love says, "I see you as God's beautiful creation, loved so much by God" (that's hard to remember sometimes, isn't it?). I see you having a different opinion or a different conviction than I do on this topic or that topic, but hey, maybe where you're coming from is different than I believed it was. Or maybe we might agree on something else. Love says: I don't have to agree with you to believe there is much good in your heart.
As St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:13, "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."