Besides “can you see my screen,” the phrase “can you believe” what so and so did or said in the political realm may be one of the most common things we hear today.
Can you believe what Trump did??
Can you believe what Pelosi said??
Can you believe how horrible/crazy/foolish/despicable/dumb/evil so-and-so is?
Of course, when we say such things — and I do all the time — we set ourselves up as judges of other’s faults and foibles and, by implication, assert our own righteousness and goodness.
Such finger-pointing allows us to take the focus off of our own actions and put the spotlight on the horribleness of other people. Boy, does that feel good! It’s such a relief to get a break from dealing with our own mistakes and failures and to show our friends and family how bad our ideological opposites are.
But do such exercises in condemnation solve the problem? Do they bring us much peace? No, is the simple answer. Like a drug, we may get a brief dose of artificial euphoria, but then we have to deal with the hangover of reality, of our own realities, which have not been improved by pointing out the evils of others.
It seems our politics are now dominated by this unhelpful dynamic, so it should be no wonder that things do not get better but instead seem to get worse. In fact, the orgy of finger-pointing we are consumed with now just worsens the underlying problems and makes us all feel, at the end of the day, more despair and hopelessness.
Again, that itinerant preacher from the hinterlands of the Roman Empire addressed this very tendency of us humans, whom he seemed to understand so well. He used a parable, an extended metaphor, to describe it: why are you focused on the splinter in your neighbor’s eye and not the beam in your own? Once you’ve removed the beam, then you can think about helping your neighbor with his splinter …
But beams are heavy, and not so quickly removed from one’s eye. Which is the point. If you work hard at removing that beam, it will require a lot of time and effort and after awhile, you will forget about your neighbor’s splinter.
Once that beam has been removed, however, you will actually be less inclined to point out those splinters because you will know that you just recently got over the affliction of having a whole beam in your eye, not just a splinter. You will be humble, and honest about your own weakness and vulnerability, and empathetic to the struggle that others are going through to remove various pieces of wood from the windows of their soul.
And so I end this reflection with yet another call for peace among us, for us to stop obsessing over the faults of our enemies while ignoring our own less savory tendencies. Pray for each other, wish for each other only the best, for that is the nature of divine love (hoping the best for another). By doing so, you pull this crazy world of ours more towards heaven, and push it away from the hell of division and hatred.
I ask for your prayers so that I can follow my own advice, though, in truth, it is not mine, but His.
Peachtree City, Ga.