Searching For Relevance
October 25, 2018
I begin with an apology for not contributing to my blog for the past several weeks. There has been so much craziness in the world lately, I was simply overwhelmed. I found myself emotionally and mentally paralyzed, unable to put pencil to paper. Where would I even begin?
As I attempt to write this week, I still am unsure of where to begin. However, I do know where things should end! That ending is, with the cessation of the name calling, blame setting, and inflammatory language which is so common and thoughtlessly spewed these days. It is no longer considered unacceptable, but instead the new norm. It’s not courageous! It’s not healthy, edifying, or unifying! It’s more akin to witnessing a playground brawl, and all of us remember where such acting out ended up — the principle’s office.
We placed our children in time out when they misbehaved. It’s just unfortunate we cannot apply that same technique to leaders, talk show hosts, and other high profile adults. But we can’t, so what is there to do?
I want to be clear, my thoughts are not intended to be political! They have nothing to do with any particular party or policies. They are not a reflection of my political persuasions, but they are an expression of my deep concerns, as a pastor and citizen. As such, the thoughts I share are about mutual respect and basic human decency, traits that good parents work hard to instill in their children. My comments are not about the character of any one particular individual, but what appears to be the metastasizing character spreading across our country. In case you haven’t noticed, Shout your opponents down has quickly evolved into . . . shoot your opponents down. It’s undeniable! Where will it end? Anarchy? Chaos? Civil War? The end of democracy? The loss of free speech?
It’s a legitimate question, “How will this end?” Because, one way or another, it will end, and all of us will live with the consequences. Since those who contribute to this issue do not seem to take this matter seriously, we the people, must. So I offer a few suggestions regarding what each of us can do to redirect the course we seem to be traveling on:
1) THINK, before you speak. Words can cut or heal. They can raise people up or put people down. The only person we control, is ourselves. It begins with us!
“Careful words make for a careful life. Careless talk may ruin everything.” Proverbs 13:3
2) RESPOND appropriately when those around you, stranger or friend, speak in mean tones, denigrate others, become uncivil, irrational, even racist — say something or leave. Silence is often interpreted as agreement or acceptance. Differences of opinion should not be a green light for arguing or fighting. Democracy is built on differences. However, conflict and creative dissonance are not the same thing. We seem to have lost the ideal of speaking honestly in love and good will.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion …
Let bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away, along with malice. Be kind, tenderhearted,
forgiving, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4: 29-32
3) LIVE UP to Jesus’ admonition to be the Salt of the Earth. Salt adds, rather than detracts. It helps to
produce something that nourishes, as well as pleases us.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each
person.” Colossians 4:6
4) DO NOT buy into the vitriolic rhetoric, rather, “fill your minds and think on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not things to curse… Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work to achieve the most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4: 8-9
5) DEMAND that those who speak for us, as well as to us, consider their tone, words, and their repercussions. Write letters, send emails, place phone calls, and consider carefully the things I have tried to sincerely raise before us, as decide for whom we will vote in the upcoming weeks. If we expect better from our teachers, police officers, ministers, and all to whom we grant authority, influence, and power, then it’s right to apply the same standards to those who govern us.
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching keep your words solid and sane.”
Titus 2: 7
Rev. Dr. Keith A. Haemmelmann