Who are we becoming?

So, this shooting in Orlando has ticked off every box. I mean, sheesh. We’ve got people talking about Muslims and terrorism. We’ve got people talking about LGBTQ rights. We’ve got people talking about gun control. We’ve got people talking about racism. My Facebook feed has gone cuckoo bananas. Memes and sarcasm and emotional tirades and arguments. And oh, so much righteous indignation. And I hate it. I absolutely hate it, and I’m getting more and more upset.

I hate reading when someone calls someone else stupid for not agreeing with them about guns.

I hate reading when someone quotes Galatians to say that the victims brought this on themselves.

I hate reading about rallies where people cheer about violence or about preventing people from coming to our country because of their faith.

And I am really fearful for the soul of our nation right now. Who are we right now? Are we really a people so defined by anger? Are we really a people so broken and shattered that we see nothing but demons and scapegoats all around us? Is that who we are?

Is it telling that we’re in the midst of a presidential election in which each of the two viable candidates is disliked by something like 95% of the populace? And disliked is a rather tame word, frankly. It might be more accurate to say we’re in the midst of an election in which both candidates are routinely thought of as the anti-christ.

What happened to the “self-evident” truth that all men are created equal? Let’s parse that: “Men” was 18th century for “people.” “Created” means “made by a higher power,” which to most at that time would have meant God. “Equal” was not a reality when the declaration was written…slavery and women’s suffrage, etc…. but it was an ideal, an ideal that over the centuries America has slowly grown closer and closer to. And how about that nagging word: “all”?

I submit something crazy:

  • God made LGBTQ people.
  • God made Muslims.
  • God made conservatives.
  • God made liberals.
  • God made Hillary Clinton.
  • God made Donald Trump.
  • God made Omar Mateen.
  • God made each and every one of Mateen’s victims.
  • God made the members of the NRA.
  • God made the Democrats who held the filibuster.
  • God made each and every person breathing on this planet right now.

That doesn’t mean everyone is right. That doesn’t mean everyone should sit around and sing kumbayah. But it means that maybe, just maybe, if everybody was made in the image of God, then when we argue and disagree, we ought to do it as members of a huge family, not as mortal enemies. If we have to punish someone for a crime, then we ought to do it soberly and sadly, not with joyous shouts of revenge. It means that we ought to be humble with our opinions, not self-righteous. I think these are the highest ideals of our nation, and always have been. But I think right now we are viciously forgetting them.

I only wish I knew what I could do to help us remember.

Author: michael j scholtes

I am a time-worn preacher with no intent of malice.

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