Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fear-->Anger-->Hate-->Suffering

Yes, the title of this post is from one of the greatest pound-for-pound philosophers of our time. Yoda:







So if my last post noted that Christian Republicans, in general, have been stoking their fears for a while now, Yoda would say that the next step is anger.

Seen any angry Christian Republicans lately? I live in Texas and am surrounded by them.

The next step is hate. Seen any hateful Christian Republicans lately? I can only speak for myself, but yes, I can almost guarantee to hear hateful speech every Sunday at church if someone starts talking about politics. Simply hearing the name Obama made a woman's face turn into a sneer of derision in bible class last week.

Some of our local politicans have tried to hold open meetings lately to do Q&A sessions on the health care bill, but most have been a disaster due to screaming, belligerent protestors. And several men have shown up with guns, claiming that they're merely exercising their rights. Sure, and it's my legal right to walk into church with a sign saying "God hates you", but that doesn't mean it's smart or appropriate.

Yes, there are angry Democrats as well. And there are many peaceful Republicans. Politics don't really interest me all that much, but even I can see that in general there seems to be a heightened sense of fear and anger, and much of the noise is being made from the Republican side. That's fine with me. My concern is that the label "Christian" has become so tightly wound with the labels of these angry people.

I think Christians are making a huge mistake in picking this battle and fighting it with such transparent fear and anger. Even if it works to their favor in the short-term with different legislation, it sets a bad precedent for how Christians get involved in political processes. How can we be a people proclaiming love, grace and spiritual pursuits while yelling at public servants, propgating lies and comparing our elected President to Hitler? Disgraceful.

For me personally, I have two tactics that I use to self-examine my anger and see if it needs an adjustment:

Tactic #1 -- Righteous anger? Or just anger?

There are injustices in this world that I think it's okay to be angry about, especially if that anger inspires us to action. For some people in America right now, health care is that kind of issue. If I choose to get caught up in the anger over health care reform, then I'm going to ask myself the following questions:

-- How much time am I spending angry about politics?
-- How does that time compare to time spent on anger about oppression, poverty or genocide?
-- How much has my anger spurred me to useful activity? Or has it instead just festered and been fuel for my own complaining? See here for my thoughts on three types of anger and which ones are actually useful.

Tactic #2 -- What are my influences?

This one is understandable to anyone over the age of 5 (because parents grind it into us!), so I won't spend long on it. We know that we are heavily influenced by what "input" we receive from the world. The friends we have, the books we read, the TV shows we watch... all of it shapes us.

For this reason, I watch neither Keith Olbermann nor Glenn Beck. I listen to neither Daniel Dennett nor Rush Limbaugh. Each of those pairs are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but their spirits and their messages have the same core ingredients -- outrage, yelling fear, anger, hate. I've chosen not to have those kinds of messages as my daily input.

So to sum up, I guess there are two main principles I try to follow when I see people around me getting angry about an issue:

1) Make sure I'm picking the right battle, and that it's something eternally important
2) Discern whether anger is the right path to actually fight the battle, or if there's a better way

As an example of this process, let me ask you this question -- which is more worthy of an angry response, health care reform or racial prejudice?

Here's how a black minister fought against the latter:





Let's pick the right battles. And then let's fight them with a spirit of love and understanding.

11 comments:

MamaRose said...

GOOD INTERVIEW/STORY, there at the end--UNbelievable JUST HOW STRONG 'SHOWING OUR LOVE' to EVERYONE defeats MOST 'battles'!!!!
IN TIME, of course--depending on HOW STUBBORN the 'fighters'/haters are!!!!!!!!!

I LOVE this blog, Bud--and, I LOVE it that you 'got it' somewhere along the line about: "BAD COMPANIONS CORRUPTS GOOD MORALS"!!!
We DID kinda 'preach' that one at you & your brother!!!!!!!!!

BUT, IT IS SO TRUE!!!!!!!!! And, now that you BOTH have your OWN kids, I KNOW you will be passing that along to them!!!!!!!!!

"LOVE" is the way to go!!!!! And, 'PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR'--there is NO PLACE for hatred, much less anger and/or FEAR in our lives.

OH, yes, everyone always seems to quote the story in the NT where Jesus GOT ANGRY & cast out everyone from His Father's TEMPLE--but, in comparison, that WAS ONLY ONE TIME--FOR HIS FATHER--that he was ANGRY HIS ENTIRE LIFE--that we have recorded, anyway--WHAT A VERY LOW PERCENTAGE, huh????????!!!!!!!!

I don't think these 'Christian Republicans OR Democrats' can say that--that this is the FIRST/ONLY time they've been ANGRY & that IT IS FOR THEIR FATHER IN HEAVEN!!!!!!

Like you said, we NEED to 'pick our battles'--just like at home--with our spouses & children & MAKE SURE they're over SOMETHING that merits it--cuz, it GETS our BP UP every time & damages our BODIES, too--not only our SPIRITS & EMOTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HOW MUCH BETTER to get/be angry over something MUCH MORE IMPORTANT, like you said, and MUCH LESS OFTEN, TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OUR GOD & JESUS WERE & ARE BEINGS OF LOVE & US, AS THEIR CHILDREN, SHOULD BE, TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WAY TO GO, BUD--another GREAT blog!
LOVE YOU BUNCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And, we're SO VERY PROUD OF YOU!!!!

(You NEED to be 'preaching'/'teaching' and/or WRITING BOOKS & getting this/YOUR MESSAGE OUT INTO OUR WORLD--just MY OPINION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) All in due time, hopefully, huh??!!!!!!
Your Mom

Roland said...

You know, I almost didn't read this one. I hate reading about hate, so I skipping down the end to click "mark as read" in my rss feeder and then saw video number 2 at the bottom. I watched it, too and went back to read more. I'm so glad I did. This was a great one.

Tit for Tat said...

Michael

Good point on what you surround yourself with. Not sure if I ever said this one to you, but my Sensei and good friend said it years ago.

"The world is 50% shit, 50% sugar, you choose where you put your focus. But just remember if you stand in shit long enough it dries around you"

Some days we're all a little mired in it. ;)

Don said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. Great post

Debby said...

Redlefty? Excellent post. Excellent. I wish that the whole country could read it.

Redlefty said...

Thanks, everybody! I actually wrote this blog a couple of weeks ago but hesitated to post it. Not sure why.

Then I edited a few things and it finally just felt right.

Bob said...

You were right to post it. Thanks for pointing out that there are angry Democrats and peaceful Republicans.

I would also point out to you that there is a "Christian left" just as there is a "Christian right" although I detest both labels.

I get the Sojourners e-mails because, although I'm traditionally conservative, I realized a few years ago that not only can reasonable minds differ, reasonable CHRISTIAN minds can differ.

I don't agree with most of the stuff Sojourners sends me but occasionally I do and it has been good for me to be exposed to another point of view and realize that there are sincere Christians who support President Obama and are in favor a health care reform.

Great writing here, as usual.

Bob said...

Just had a chance to listen to your message from July 12.

Great job and the part about putting faces to things -- just what I needed.

John Shore said...

Perfectly said. Thank you.

FishrCutB8 said...

Interesting that the ad that pops up on the second video is an ad for Ann Coulter. As a huge fan of irony, I had to laugh.

That being said, we are not given a spirit of fear...

RLL said...

My puzzlement is that of my friends the ones most dependent upon Social Security, and who really need a guaranteed health plan are Republicans who are poor, and on the edge. Sometimes I can't help but think that they are the sort that only a Democrat could love. And they are not dumb, and for the most part they are not hateful.