Author: Una Henry
Opening Facebook is becoming more and more of a chore. The second I open it, I instantly regret it. I cringe as I read through my newsfeed. Social media has given us all instant access to a wide audience for our opinions, and the loudest opinions seem to have their origins in anger and fear. Freedom of speech also means the freedom to think before speaking: to think about the repercussions of your thoughts; to think about the audience to whom your speaking; to think about whether your thoughts even need to be said.
I feel as though my Facebook feed is divided into two groups. The people I grew up going to church and Bible college with, and the people I’ve met since my undergraduate studies. I struggle because one group talks about how people are hurting and we need to help them, while the other oscillates between talking about nothing and talking about the things that make them angry. Sadly, it’s only a minority of Christians who seem to care about those who are hurting. In fact, supposed Christian leaders in our government are making moves to keep out those who do not share their faith.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, I watched as most of the people in my friends list changed their profile picture to reflect the French flag. However, I did not feel united in solidarity with these people, I found myself angry at their hypocrisy. I found myself angry that they cared about the deaths of people an ocean away, while ignoring the deaths of people of color in their own country. I found myself angry that if I tried to talk with them about this, I would be painted as “anti-cop”, “anti-patriotic,” or perhaps most hurtful to me, “ungodly.”
Hate is being spread throughout this country in the disguise of patriotism and faith. Therefore, when someone tries to call that hate for what it is, they are labeled as “unpatriotic” or “ungodly.” This makes fear, anger, and hate unassailable, for they stand on a foundation that cannot be questioned without defaming the character of those who dare question.
As a therapist, I understand the virtue and purpose of anger. It serves to protect us from hurt and fear. But anger is a sword. It can be used to protect or used to hurt others. It’s easy to get angry. It’s easy to stay angry. Letting go of anger; that’s a real challenge. It is a challenge to which it seems few are willing to rise.
When Jesus was asked which of the 10 commandments was the greatest he replied:
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
It seems that people are ignoring the second by claiming the first. As if to say, “my priority is God and my faith, and as you do not share that faith, I owe you nothing.”
Be brave. Do the hard thing. “For whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:31-46