We are all stunned by the escalation of violence these past days, both by authorities and non-authorities alike. As shocked as we may be by violent acts, I am wondering if we should really be surprised or at least wonder if our own attitudes and emotions play a part in creating what seems to be a more polarized and violent society.
I am not surprised that violent actions occur as the violence of our words toward each other rises. I listen to violent words that politicians use when talking about other politicians in the other political party and how dutifully members of that party adapt to that same violent attitude. The violent rhetoric used when we disagree too often leads to hate and not surprising, hateful actions. Of course the growing use of violent words is not limited to politics. It is true in far too many groups in our world today.
I sense a rise in the violence and bitterness in our overall language these days in our country. How often we use “hate” to describe others. The things we hate others for are too often, differences of opinion, people of different ethnic or religious backgrounds. It is easy and convenient to hate and reject people, than to learn or try to understand them.
We are also becoming better at scapegoating groups of people by their faith, ethnicity, political leaning or simply by the way they look. We scapegoat because we are threatened. We are threatened because we don’t understand. We don’t understand because too often we don’t want to or because we simply don’t care. We hate what we fear and we fear what we hate. The feeling of “if we could just eliminate those people our lives, our church, our nation, our world, our town, our neighborhood or our family would be better off.” Fill in the blank for yourself…”If it weren’t for _____ we’d all be better off.” It is a cycle that has occurred time and time again and continues to this day.
The greatest example of a scapegoat for we Christians is Jesus. He was blamed for all that was wrong in Jerusalem during his time. He became the innocent sacrificial lamb/scapegoat who needed to be eliminated for the good of all. Jesus taught us how to end this cycle of scapegoating and violence by loving one another as he loves us, and forgiving others and loving your enemy. Even from the cross as the sacrificial lamb he taught us, “Father forgive them…”
If we want to end the cycle of violence and the scapegoating in our world we need to start with ourselves. We need to listen to ourselves and the language that we use. How often do we use the word “hate” during the day and why? How often do we illogically scapegoat others? To be a true disciple of Christ there is no room for hatred, there is no room for scapegoating
Rev. James Kirby