DEAR FATHER PAUL: (Note: This question is from a man I met at a local supermarket). He Said … “Almost everybody I know or meet and everybody I see on the TV news these days is severely “offended” about one thing or another. It almost seems that today everybody is angry and offended about something, or someone all of the time. People are now even being physically harassed in restaurants and on the street if they are on the “wrong” side of an issue. It seems to me that America is nearing a scary explosion of emotions from which there is no turning back. What do you say?” Lawrence.
DEAR LAWRENCE: You could not be more right! I am seventy-five years old, and I have never seen anything like the raw emotions and extreme polarization that we see in the life of our nation today. Almost everyone seems offended about something. Really.
If you are looking for someone to blame, in my opinion there is enough blame to go around. Talk show hosts who rail against the folks out of their favor as if they are some evil enemy. Twenty-four hour a day cable news (opinion) channels plus web sites and tweets that foster extreme partisanship, half truths and outrageous conspiracy theories. Elected officials who are more interested in loyalty to their party than the good of the nation. Celebrities with weird views and conduct.
Some of us need to look in the mirror at ourselves as well. If past numbers hold, around 60% of eligible voters will be “too busy” to vote on November 6th. How sad.
I could go on and on, but it basically comes down to the fact that millions of Americans are angry and offended because they sometimes don’t get their way. We are in truth living in an uncivil “its all about me” age. Far too many people today are offended, angry, combative, tribal (and again) selfish, self righteous and self centered.
If there is any good news it’s that America has been here before and survived. But at a cost of 800,000 lives! I am speaking of course of the horrific American Civil War 1861-1865. Anyone who seriously studies the decade of the 1850s leading up to the war, will find that the situation that America finds itself in now in 2018 is much like 1858. In my opinion, far too close to a point of no return for comfort.
We won’t solve these problems overnight. They are too deep, too long coming and too ingrained in our human (sinful) nature. Congressional term limits and somehow limiting the corrosive influence years long election campaigns and vast amounts of campaign money would help a lot, but no one should hold their breath.
If however, as I said earlier, so many people being so easily offended is a central root of the problem, and I believe that it is. Then the Bible has the answer. EVERYBODY… ALL OF US …NEED TO STOP BEING SO OFFENDED ALL THE TIME AGAINST OUR FELLOW CONTRYMEN, AND INSTEAD, LOVE THEM AND PRAY FOR THEM! Wow … what a novel idea.
Proverbs 18:19 has this thought from its author, the wise King Solomon. (New Living Translation) “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.” This means that if you are an offended person yelling and demonstrating its like you are stuck inside the high walls of a fortified city behind locked gates … of your own making. You cannot get out for help, and no one can get in to help you. Loving God and loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself is the only way you can be set free according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:35-40.
Indeed, the answer is that people’s anger (and their offended feelings) must be replaced by love. Solomon says as much in Proverbs 10:12 (NLT) “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.”
On June 16, 1858, as America was (just as today) becoming more and more divided, the future president, Abraham Lincoln, campaigning for election to the U. S. Senate from Illinois, said these words quoting from the words of Jesus in Mark 3:25 …(KJV) “ and if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Jesus’ (and Lincoln’s) words are just as true, and just as prophetic today as they were 2,000 and 160 years ago. May God help the United States if we fail to recognize this God given principle. We must again become the UNITED States.
Note To Church and Community Leaders: I have retired from active ministry, but God isn’t done with me yet … and I am available to speak to local church and other groups as God might lead at 678- 457-3050.
Father Paul Massey is Canon to the Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church and is assigned to the Cathedral Of Christ The King in Sharpsburg, Georgia.