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.