Unfocused, Unbridled Anger Will Fix Nothing

I have a few honest questions concerning our society. I’m not trying to be controversial or flippant. First, why all the unfocused, unbridled anger? The general answer seems to be “injustice!” Ok, this is a good starting place, but the answer goes awry when it shoots in all different directions. For example, a “black” man dies because of a “white” cop. THIS is the injustice. But what has followed are directions that are off focus and untrue:

  • All cops are bad
  • All “whites” are “racist
  • All “blacks” are oppressed
  • All cops are “systematically racist “
  • No body cares
  • This is Trump’s fault
  • Capitalism needs to be replaced by Marxism

Each of these are off focus and untrue. Everyone I know was upset with what happened to George Floyd. But somehow, things have spiraled somewhere unknown. We must remain focused if we are to fix anything.

Second question, will screaming obscenities and being destructive help fix injustice? So many pictures and videos I’ve seen shows persons with signs or shouting out things like: “F— cops!” “F— Trump!” F— you!” “Get the f— out of here!” Etc. I have yet seen such a word reconcilable. The same thing with destroying property. People are destroying things just to be destructive. But honestly, will this fix the problem? No, because none of this has anything to do with the original injustice. Furthermore, NO ONE responds well to being told, “f— you!” This kind of behavior is counterproductive. All this does is heighten the walls and thicken the barriers. This fixes nothing but is only further destructive.

Although I have more, my last question for the time being is this: do “black” lives matter or only the ones that fit a certain narrative? Something I have observed for several years is often if a “black” man is successful, he is labeled an “Uncle Tom.” The same for those who support Trump. Mind you, my posts are not meant to be political, but my point is this: on the one hand, “whites” are condemned unfairly as being “racist.” Yet, on the other hand, “blacks” are ostracized if they go against some unwritten script to think for themselves.

None of this is supportive of justice. It is not true that every “white” is racist anymore than saying the “black” community is free of racism. Furthermore, it is not supportive of justice to criticize “black” men as “Uncle Toms” when they are successful and/or think for themselves. All these accusations stem from the racism within the accusers’ hearts.

Truly, I believe things can get better, but first we have to keep focused on the actual offenses and avoid the untrue generalizations. If we refuse, we will all suffer the consequences of infernos of our own unbridled rage.

The Lost Priceless Art of Common Courtesy

Many of the narrators (i.e., the talking heads) say the problem in America is “racism,” but I dare say the problem is deeper than this. You see, in my fair amount of years of living, I have known very few people who were racist in the true sense of the word, regardless of their ethnicity. Oh sure, there are cliques and biases, but every color and sector has these. For example, when I was a teen there was a fellow a few years older than me who lived in the same apartment complex. He had a shirt that read, “If You Ain’t Chicano, You Ain’t Caca!” Today, such a shirt would be  considered “racist,” yet this person was not racist. His friends included blacks, whites, and Asians.

The deeper problem today, I believe, is the decline in respect and common courtesy all around. I have seen such a rise in disrespect toward others from elementary schools to professional political platforms.

I have witnessed people treating employees at fast food restaurants and department stores as though these individuals are beneath them, as they yelled and belittled them. I’ve seen videos of cops being screamed and cussed at because they pulled persons over for speeding. I’ve observed young men treating others with contempt yet demanding respect. I’ve experienced reaching my hand out only to have persons look down at my hand then back at me, keeping their arms crossed.

In media, whole groups of people are generalized and demonized—especially if persons or groups do not share the same opinions and agendas.

Kids can cuss and threaten teachers or bully students; yet, many parents will side with their children—regardless of the rebellious behavior. Some parents yell awful, demeaning things at kids’ sporting events. Many belittle police officers, referring to them as the “pigs.” We live in a day where the position of president is not even respected. I read of a children’s book recently portraying President Trump as a pig. There has been a growth in numbers who show utmost disrespect for the flag, those in the military, and those who have sacrificed much. Let us not forget the disrespect shown to our elders. I recently came across a video of and elderly man of color being punched by a group of young men of color for wearing a US winter hat.

We’ve become a society having a sense of entitlement, as if somehow others owe us something. But why would anyone owe us anything while we “do not owe anyone a single thing”?

The disrespect and lack of courtesy transcends color, ethnicity, gender, economic class, etc., and these have poisoned our society like nothing else can. How can our country deal with racism if it disregards the necessity of respect. Mind you, showing respect does not mean to agree with someone or to like them. Rather, it is to show honor for a person’s position and/or personhood. Yet, how often I will hear people say, “I’m not going to respect him/her, they don’t deserve respect. Respect is to be earned!” What a bunch of baloney! We’re to demand respect while dishing out disrespect?! It does not work this way, and this is precisely a major reason our society is in the mess it is in.

The Bible tells us:

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. ~ 1 Peter 2:17

How can we cry out for love and justice if we cannot even show respect and common courtesy to one another? This is like crying out for light and warmth, yet pouring water over any flickering flames.

Somewhere on a shelf in the dark basement of the human heart is the lost, but ever so valuable, art of common courtesy. Until we can find this and finally display it again, the cries against racism, injustice, etc. are but also a lost cause.

The Relevance and Hope of Nehemiah’s Prayer

Recently, many of us saw the video of the unjust treatment and killing of George Floyd. Since then, chaos and destruction have inflicted cities all across the United States. There is a lot of concern, fear, anger, and rage. But is there hope?

Nehemiah was a Jew and served as a cupbearer to a foreign king. Word was brought to Nehemiah concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the great city of his homeland. Upon hearing the news, he sat down and wept. For days, being anguished in spirit, he fasted and prayed.

I believe within Nehemiah‘s prayer we can find hope and healing for our nation.

First, he humbled himself before God, acknowledging His faithfulness in both love and word. As he prays, he says:

I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.” ~ Nehemiah 1:6-9 (ESV)

Notice, he confesses the sins of the people at large, he then shifts attention to his own sin and those of his father’s house. All of these sins contributed to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Our nation is spiraling downward. It has been for some time, but the pace seems to be increasing. There is not just a single sin by a particular group of people. Rather, there are a host of sins each of us have contributed.

At large, we have so many politicians and big businesses cemented in corruption—greed, lust for power, sexual scandals, deceit, and even crimes of all sorts. Then there is Hollywood with all its vain extravagance, well known for all its immorality and mockery of God. Added to this is its love for debauchery, not only indulging in sex, but also substances. Even the church is not guiltless, as many churches have turned away from the faith and true teachings of the Bible. Churches are well known for hypocrisy and judgmentalism. Yet, the sins do not stop here. Added to these are the areas of education and journalism, rewriting history and polishing stories, not for the sake of truly educating or showing what is happening, but rather propagating and brainwashing. Yet, again, the sins do not stop here.

Now, bringing it in closer to—but not quite—home, I saw a touching video. There were two groups: one side was “whites” and the other side “blacks.” The whites were kneeling, and one man prayed aloud, confessing to God our sins and the sins of our fathers. Acknowledging real injustices done to blacks. The black community joined in prayer, as a man pronounced forgiveness, then acknowledged the anger and resentment of theirs and their fathers. I know of one writer who mocked this video; yet, the prayers of these men and communities are in line with the prayer of Nehemiah. Neither side blamed the other, but simply owned up to personal sins and sins of society before God. This, I believe, can open genuine discussion and healing—IF we will let it.

Now, bringing it home, personally. This has been difficult as I have taken some spiritual inventory of my own life. I find it easier to burn bridges than to build them. I am guilty, at times, of being biased, partial, and assuming the worse in others before taking the time to know them. There are times when I do not validate another’s words or feelings. This is all sin, because I am not honoring those made in God’s image. I am not loving them as I love myself nor treating them the way I want to be treated. Thus, I have had to do my own share of confessing. But this has led to the reconciliation between a friend and me.

A lot of healing can take place in our world if we would humble ourselves, validate and honor others, genuinely own up to our own offenses, and let go of the anger, rage, biases, presumptions, refusal to forgive, and the like. Healing and hope are possible, even for our nation. However, the challenge for each of us is following the directions of what God prescribes to us. For many, this is too big a pill to swallow. Our own pride is often one of the biggest obstacles to genuine unity and healing.