Why Are We So Angry?

A rabbi once said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

Love your enemies.

We don’t do that well in America at all, this supposedly Christian nation.  We hate our enemies. We treat them horrifically; we call them names. We laugh at their missteps, and refuse to listen to them.

This has always been simmering in the background, but really came to the forefront in the 2000 Presidential election, when Gore v. Bush made it to the Supreme Court and people felt that their votes didn’t count. So the best way to address this was to resort to name calling.

I saw on Facebook last week a picture of Hitler talking about Socialized Medicine. A friend of a friend posted it, and tagged my friend. Of course, the implied message was that President Obama had stooped to the depths of Hitler. I’ve heard this before of course. And I saw bumper sticks for Bush/Satan back in 2004 (instead of Bush/Cheney).

Where has the dialogue gone? What about even showing a bit of love?

Many Christians have aligned themselves with the GOP who have quite a few incendiary radio personalities (the left have them too, but I don’t think they are as well known). They listen to the radio and then get worked up themselves and start viciously name calling. There is little if no denouncement of things that cross the line. Some Christians have aligned themselves with the Democrats, and often claim a sense of superiority, looking down on Republicans as unintelligent (and much more).

The problem is that Christians have gotten so used to this that they get downright nasty to those who disagree with them. And when people who do disagree with them (be they Christian or no) talk with them and get heated, well it keeps escalating.

Jesus says we need to love our enemies. Show them respect. Turn the other cheek.

If nothing else we should at least be civil.

When a person claiming to be a Christian equates a President wishing to bring medical care to more people is equated with a man who killed 6 million Jews, well that’s just wrong. When a person claiming to be a Christian says all those living in Red States are ignorant, inbred rednecks who can’t have an intelligent thought, well that’s just wrong too.

If we were a Christian nation, there would be more civility in the public arena. And this won’t change until Christians, and others, begin following the advice of that wise rabbi.

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Photo Credit: Stock Exchange, Sebastian Pothe

3 Comments, RSS

  1. Bill July 6, 2012 @ 8:33 am

    It’s easy to turn to demagoguery and hate towards people who disagree with you, it’s much harder to engage with your them and work toward common ground. I believe that the call to love my enemies is one of the strongest challenges I face because it forces me to confront my enemies as equals. Once I cast someone as “not like me” it becomes easy for me to become bigoted, angry, or violent towards them, but if I try to remember that we are all equal members in the body of Christ, than that makes prejudice difficult, if not impossible.

    That being said, it is very, very, hard, and I fail at meeting that challenge with astonishing frequency.

  2. Valerie July 6, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    I believe that many of us operate with our primitive brains, which gives us three choices in any situation that it perceives to be threatening: flight, fight, or freeze. Our amigdalas have kept us alive as a species for…well, a very long time. But they frequently perceive things as threatening that, in fact, aren’t. I’m not sure why this is, but I suspect it has something to do with the feeling of “aliveness” it gives us when we get that adreniline rush. But I could be wrong about that.

    But we, as a society, are not trained to pause and disengage that amigdala and its very limited tool box. We just perceive anyone who disagrees with us as a threat and then act accordingly. It’s fast, it’s efficient, and it’s deadly.

    Loving our enemies takes time – time to disengage the primitive brain, time to breathe, time to think. And loving them, sometimes anyway, makes them less enemies than just someone we disagree with.

    Just my ramling $.02 worth.

  3. Anita July 9, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    AMEN!!!! When election years roll around I get physically sick by all the name-calling and people bashing that goes on. It is about time the candidates simply tell us what they believe in, where they would like to see the country go and how they would get us there. Digging up dirt, telling lies, embellishing facts, either toward the positive or the negative, is simply wrong…..and immoral. When will they wake up and smell the coffee? The candidates listen way too much to their campaign managers and marketing people instead of listening to their inner voices and doing the right thing. One of my favorite movies is “The American President” with Michael Douglas. When can we expect political figures to return to doing the right thing for everyone, not just a few?

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