Unless you’ve been under a rock, or cloistered in some hilltop monastery, you may have noticed the world is in turmoil. Never before has politics been a, so in your face reality. Join any one of hundreds of online threads where people are discussing, arguing, yelling and name-calling and the vortex of opinions will suck you in like a dinosaur trapped in tar sand. There’s no escape. Not that any of this is new to politics; mudslinging, lying and dividing are the bedrock of the political arena.
It’s easy to shock someone to the point of brain damage while remaining anonymous, but publicly sporting a shirt that proclaims, “I’d rather be Russian than Democrat,” is full frontal, blatantly mind-numbing lunacy. In the immortal words of Jesus, “they know not what they do.” The question of why they know not is best left to sociologists and scholars.
For a while, the world seemed to be making a concerted effort to move onward and upward; striving towards higher ideals and peaceful living, then, bam – a massive push-back and recoil. It seems that fear, anger and hatred have not given up the ghost – and what powerful poltergeists of emotions they are. Globally, these forces simmer under the surface remaining for the most part contained under the lid of civil and social graces. Now the cauldron is at a tipping point, waiting to scald anyone or anything that gets in the way.
The Nazi Party has made a glorious resurgence, Italy is aligning with Putin; and I gag typing the name, Trump, whose hubris, mental instability, and ignorance have mired the very Un-United States in the muck and mire of it all.
Mankind is at war, make no mistake about it, but this war is not about bipartisan ideals, nor is it about political ideals. It is not about acquiring land, nor is it mistakenly about greed; although avarice is a deadly pandemic. It is about fear, lack of education, control and fear of losing control. Polar opposites clashing like titans on the battlefield – education and ignorance, science and flat-earthers, fear mongers and critical thinkers. And the lowest common denominator? Good vs. evil? Love vs. hate? Fear vs faith? Maybe all of the above.
As with all wars, there is collateral damage. I have lost two friends over the past two years as a result of this global tearing, and I have had to ask myself what part did I play in our triad? How could I not know that my friend of over thirty years was a racist; a person who harboured so much hate? Did I value friendship more than detest her points of view? Was I responsible for allowing her ever-deepening anger and hatred to fester unchallenged? Was I permissive?
Yes. Guilty. The fact is I did know. Over cards, coffee, choir practice, Sunday outings and general sharing, I felt twinges of discomfort when words like, “turban-head,” and, “those people,” fell out of her mouth. It does not negate the many heartfelt conversations, the laughter and tears of thirty years, but it blackens and taints. I am ashamed I laughed; ashamed I allowed her words to go unchallenged for many years… until the cauldron tipped and out poured the vile blackness that could no longer be contained. The catalyst of hate had given her permission to say what she’d always been thinking, and I enabled it.
Finally, my conscience squirmed and twisted so uncomfortably within, I cut her free, along with the other third of our triad who supports her right to be hateful. Whenever I miss them as I often do, I think of the scene from The Sound of Music when Liesl knows she must let Rolf go from her life and from her heart. She recognizes he is no longer the person she fell in love with, just as I must accept my friends are no longer the people I loved anymore.
Some say friendship is more important than any political or ideological stance. I respectfully disagree. There are some differences we can not, and must not accept; whether they be in our family, friends, or in the world at large, lest we become hateful too. “You are either part of the solution or part of the problem,” “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.“ Timothy 3 1-5 says, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Avoid such people.
Collateral damage; it’s a sad fact of war. Let’s hope we reach a truce soon.