I recently received a thoughtful response in a social media thread from a former colleague when I was complaining that way too many people are ticked off about way too much, as evidenced by irrational anger in the political discourse. He noted that many people are truly aggrieved and have every right to be mad.
Yes, indeed. Imagine being gay and dealing with people who don’t think you should be able to marry or that you can be fired from your job just because of your private life. If I was gay, I would certainly be angry about all that. Frankly, prejudice against gay people really ticks me off and I am a straight woman. People who care that much about the sex lives of others really ought to question themselves why they think it’s any of their business. It doesn’t directly affect them. I believe in individual freedom and whatever you do in private in a caring relationship is nobody else’s business, whether you are gay or straight. People who are so angry about the existence of homosexuality might have to address whether they themselves have unhealthy issues surrounding sexuality in general. Resolve your own issues and stop caring about other people’s sex lives.
Clearly, there is a mass of very angry people out there and I believe that played a role in the election of President Trump, who appears to the be the antithesis of magnanimity. His supporters praise him for telling it like it is. Is it really as he tells it? Let’s take a quick moment to consider the hallmark of his rhetorical treatment of Mexicans, referring to immigrants from our southern neighbor as “the worst people,” who were bringing drugs and are “rapists.” I live in Texas and am quite aware that criminal behavior associated with illegal entry exists. I am also aware that a lot of immigrants coming from and through Mexico are seeking work, often in construction, lawn care, home care, etc. As for rapists, sadly, we have plenty of homegrown rapists. Anyhow, a lot of voters seem to eat up this red meat. Just look at the adoring and angry fans at Trump rallies.
Now, we have the terrorist who killed Muslims in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. He specifically said he was inspired by Trump (who denounced the attacks). He also said he opted to use firepower to stoke the debate in the United States about gun control. He said he hoped to see a civil war waged in the U.S. over subcultural differences among us. As an American, I’d like to say, go to Hell.
If you feel aggrieved as a white person because Muslims exist worldwide, ask yourself why. As for terrorist organizations co-opting Christianity in the name of hate, including the KKK, please recognize that there is a great variety of world views and biblical interpretation among Christians of and within various denominations. Labelling all Muslims as terrorists is tantamount to labelling all Christians as terrorists because of the acts and beliefs of white nationalists.
If you feel aggrieved as a white person because black people are afforded civil rights in the United States, ask yourself why. Why shouldn’t black people enjoy the same freedoms as white people. The more all people can thrive in our society, the better off we are as a society.
If you hate a demographic segment of society, ask yourself why? Why are you so angry? Whose fault is that? What world do you live in? Do you personally know anyone who is gay, black or Muslim? Sadly, this terror attack in New Zealand is the perfect example. A white man has nothing to be truly angry about; his victims are the truly aggrieved.
A Shining Example of Christian Faith in the Face of Hate
The attacker cited the deadly shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, as an inspiration. The way the congregants responded was the very picture of Christian forgiveness. It was stunning to hear their voices lifted at hearing for the murderer.
“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts and I’ll never be the same,” one woman said. Another spoke of never being able to hold her mother again, before adding, “I forgive you.”
Another victim struggled. “For me, I am a work in progress and I am very angry,” she said, before noting that her family was built on love. “We have no room for hate, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.”
The community in South Carolina came together, black and white, to grieve together and the mayor declared that if the killer sought to divide the country based on racial hate, “he miserably failed.”
Now, we have a guy in another country seeking to divide us further. We can respond by affirming our commitment to the belief that united we stand. Americans are not just liberal or conservative. We are more complex than that. We are capable of agreeing on some things and disagreeing on others. We have a democracy. People are not always happy with political compromises, policies or court decisions. But we have the rule of law. Terror has no place in civil society.
If a person fears the existence of people who don’t look like them, they need to dig into why he or she is feels so inadequate. A black man’s success doesn’t impact my life. A gay couple’s marriage has no impact on my hetero relationship. Muslims praying in a mosque has no influence over my faith. It’s utterly illogical. Celebrate that everyone on this Earth is not exactly the same. Diversity is strength.
During WWII, a man showed up on the porch of my German great-grandfather’s farmhouse in New Jersey. It was the dinner hour and they were not expecting company. My dad, who was a very little boy, remembers it clearly. His grandfather raised his voice as he and the stranger argued. Clearly displeased with the solicitor, he punch the man so hard the guy fell down the stairs. The conversation was in German, but dad understood it. When he was older, he asked his grandfather to confirm his recollection. My great-grandfather recalled the stranger was a Nazi recruiter and the response my great-grandfather had was, you’re the reason I left Germany. He came here at the turn of the 20th century as a teen. Maybe all the haters need to move to another planet to keep each other’s company and leave the rest of us out of it.