For those of us who were mandated to take a course in Logic, we were taught the fallacy known as “post hoc ergo propter hoc!” In other words: just because something (B) occurs after an event (A) does not prove that B was caused by A – e.g., I get up at 5 am and decide to wear jeans and a N.Y. Mets sweatshirt instead of black suit and clergy collar. At 7 am a tree falls down over the Saw Mill River Parkway and backs up traffic for hours. Unless one were a deluded NY Yankee fan, you cannot argue that what I chose to wear earlier that morning had any impact on whether a tree would fall sometime later!
This week’s readings from Scripture brought to the surface some of the more demanding teachings of Jesus: about loving even those who cannot abide you, and not seeking revenge, and most importantly going beyond the demands of “the law.”
In the past weeks I have been watching with a mixture of grave concern, fascination and perhaps loathsome disdain how political discourse has not only degenerated into excuses for posting hateful communications, but it seems that it is becoming “fashionable” again to spew venom at any occasion. Even at clergy gatherings, debate regarding different ideas can devolve into name calling and shouting sessions intended to vilify anyone who does not agree with your position. I’ve watched behaviors on the subway show more flashes of anger and impatience than in years past. (I remember “bad old days” and I do not want them back!) There are now forbidden topics to discuss even in a family setting because of who will take offense at the very thought of thinking about a given issue.
Have we let the anger of political life seep into our daily lives, or even our lives as Christians? Has the political climate infected how we choose to treat “our neighbor” whom Jesus commands we are to love as much as ourselves. I don’t know what the cause of this change of attitudes that seems to be sweeping public and private life is, but I believe that if we stop listening to the voice of Jesus and making Him our priority and His life as our life, then I truly fear that we may be looking ahead to a culture dominated by anger and victimhood. Christ’s command to love the “other” may be seen as a hopeless ideal or even a joke. But I choose to walk His path! And you?