Fear, Anger, and Power. Part 1

I was reading an FB post by Ptr. Bill Nieporte, and I felt it had a lot of what I wanted to talk about because of all the madness with bombings and shootings, as well as angry and/or violent rhetoric. You can see more of his writings if you CLICK HERE.  Here is his post.pogo

I have never ended a friendship on facebook or “real life” because of a person’s politics, religion, lifestyle, or anything else. The only thing that causes me to end a relationship is when comments become personally insulting and threatening to me or my family.

Unfortunately, that is becoming more par for the course these days. People from all corners are too darn angry to talk. And nobody seems willing to take ownership of their own anger issues.

I know, most of that comes from FEAR. People are afraid…and they scapegoat their fear and anger on the various boogeymen they think are hiding under every rock and around every corner.

That’s why you get fire-from-heaven rhetoric from pastors-chancellors of “Christian schools” advocating that everyone on campus get a conceal-and-carry permit to “get them Muslims.”

That why you have Muslims like the two young people in California who were so angry and fearful of a world not fully Muslim that they shot up those people.

That’s why you have people like the guy who shot at the Planned Parenthood office shouting stuff about “no more body parts” while he created body parts out of corpses

That’s why you have people like the church shooter in South Carolina.
That’s why you have people like the shooter at Fort Hood.
That why the rhetoric from talk radio spawning more fear and hate.

Look, the guy across the block and down the street with the conceal-and-carry permit is not the source of all evil. Neither is the Muslim man at the gym. Neither is the gay couple in the grocery store line. Neither is the liberal…or the conservative…or libertarian…or progressive on Facebook .

Those folks are not the enemy. The real enemy is the hatred that desires to “call fire down from heaven” to consume those who do not receive us with kindness When everyone is praying for fire or wanting to “bomb the sh(&” out of others, we are ALL in trouble…none will survive.

Jesus spoke of inspecting the log in our own eye, not the spec in the eye of our neighbor. Maybe it’s time we start heeding his instructions.

That does not mean we do no disagree. There are several of my friends whom I have intense disagreements with about a number of issues – some on Facebook and some in “real life.” They have not blocked, fired, threatened, or insulted me or my family…nor have I done that to them.

But here lately, it is happening. It’s happening everyday.

A fourth grade Arabic boy has been called a terrorist in a nearby school. I know of this boy from a very reliable reference. He is scared. Where do the fourth graders get that sort of thing. From mommy and daddy.

We are doomed as a society if this does not change…and this cannot be scapegoated on Obama, Trump, Fundies, Muslims, Jews, gun owners, liberals, conservatives, progressives, tea-party people. It is on us if we do not learn how to love each other

In Pastoral Counseling we learn that Anger is typically a “secondary” emotion. That is, something triggers a primary emotion (like fear, disgust, or mistrust) and that primary emotion then triggers a second emotion. A xenophobic reaction (Us versus Them… fear or mistrust of those we don’t understand) can easily morph into anger or hatred.

Frankly, this is a pretty human response. One might even say it is our nature (Not that it is an excuse.  Quoting Rose Sayer from the movie The African Queen, “Nature, … is what we are put in this world to rise above.”) And since we are all humans, like it or not, we find it easy to fall in this trap. That is why, in part, Jesus said that we are to love one another… including those we consider enemies— those we are tempted to dehumanize, demonize, or objectify. We are told to love these people because it is difficult. I think there is a lot of reason for concern when Christian leaders provide religious support for culturally triggered hatred. Something clearly not Christian in this. When we embrace a “righteous” anger for those we find distasteful or those we fear, we begin to become what we hate. We become the enemies that we have, or the enemies we imagine.

I do think there is another related issue here… and that involves Christians’ (illicit) love affair with power. But I will save that for Part 2.

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