Vehement criticism has become the national pastime in the United States. The gulf is growing between people of opposing views, values, races, religions, sects . . . (if there is a difference between people, it can go here). From talk shows to political debates, Facebook comments to news ‘discussions’ the degree of acrimony is chilling. No longer about discussing differences, it is all inflicting pain. Wiping out the opponent. Never listening, pausing only long enough to refuel and continue the attack.
As a peace-at-any-price soul, even on a visceral level this grieves me. And as one who believes the words of the Prince of Peace, “Love your enemies, and do good to those who hurt you,” I find it harder and harder to turn on the TV or read the news. I feel like completely disengaging from the current elections, and for the first time, not even voting.
It seems that compassion, without which our society cannot long survive, is in short supply, meted out only for “chosen” babies, endangered species and victims.
But the definition of a victim loops us right back to the top. My compassion for who, or what, I perceive as a victim might be the very action that ignites another to shut me down, reject me, or worse.
Dystopian novels and movies about a world that has been almost destroyed by aggression and warfare don’t seem like sci-fi anymore. They might be predicting our future, as 1984 did when it was written.
How much hope is there when our youngest generations are growing up with an instantaneous connection to a world of terrorism and violent hatred, video games, TV, and movies loaded with violence? With ever-prevalent pornography increasing sexual dysfunction, and condoning objectification of and violence toward women?
Our world is spinning out of civility.
I can’t help being glad I’m in the last era of my life. But I grieve for the younger ones. My children are wonderfully intentional about building strong, loving homes. But can they insulate against this culture of selfishness, “It’s all about me” and hatred?
I pause and watch the afternoon clouds building up. (Here in Florida, at times missing the mountains I watch the clouds billow up from the Gulf of Mexico and picture them rolling off mountaintops.)
Words of the Psalmist come to mind.
I look up to the mountains;does my strength come from mountains?No, my strength comes from God,who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.He won’t let you stumble,your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.Not on your life! Israel’sGuardian will never doze or sleep.God’s your Guardian,right at your side to protect you—Shielding you from sunstroke,sheltering you from moonstroke.God guards you from every evil,he guards your very life.He guards you when you leave and when you return,he guards you now, he guards you always.
Assured, once again, that my strength doesn’t come from my world being orderly, life going as it should, or from peaceful surroundings, I know I can go on.
Taking my life from His hand, one day at a time.
One step at a time.
So, how do you handle it when you feel overwhelmed?