Emerging from the global pandemic, I am appalled at the level of aggression I observe in public discourse. I must admit though, it has not taken me by surprize.
That evening, perplexed by the previews, I thought, “I wonder where is all this violence is coming from and where is it taking us.”
Perhaps I am now finding out. We are emerging from the isolation and frustration of the global pandemic and don’t know what to do with the emotions being stirred up in us; emotions generated by the experiences created during a violent interruption to normal routines.
Already unbalanced by this, we are being thrust headlong into an uncertain future where all the goalposts have shifted. Serious questions come at us about topics that include all sorts of unheard-of questions about our sexuality, about racial injustice in so many parts of the world and about historic decisions made by, or creating consequences for, us and our ancestors. These pressing questions linked with current economic and social anxieties create strong emotional responses.
In the confusion, we grasp desperately for some answers or resolutions to our unsolvable problems. Panic leaves us looking for scapegoats. We search desperately for an easy fix to ease our emotional pain.
Political leaders, scientists, pollsters, government officials, religious leaders, as well as interest groups on both the left and the right politically, offer opinions and sometimes quick solutions. They state their views aggressively with the certainty that they are right and all others are in error. The result manufactures greater tension without resolution.
In the contradictory rhetoric, we hear the offer of simple, certain and cost-free solutions popping up. Then, we realize few people have taken the time and effort to seriously consider all the aspects of these problems. Has anyone focused attention on figuring out any reasonable ways we might find a compromise or attempted to consider the merits of another point of view.
Media giants place their bets on what appears as a popular viewpoint and amass all the evidence available to support that position. It is out of the question to consider positives as well as negatives of a contrary view. The dominating fear is having to live with ambiguity, and admit we do not have all the answers.
I wonder if this reflects what the polls tell us. Many have jettisoned long held faith. Did they think all the questions would be answered by the technology we were developing? Ironically questions push much scientific research. Many life-giving solutions continue to be discovered, on the way by, as scientists seek answers to logical questions. Have we given up too easily on the serious issues that challenge our faith?
What we, as people of faith, sometimes fail to realize is questions can nurture our growth and lead us into deeper spiritual knowledge and understanding. We need not resort to easy answers. Why do we assume that what always was is the way things must always be?
As we ask ourselves and each other tough questions about how we are to live today, we grapple with the hard issues. Together we seek real answers and create a solid base on which we rebuild our lives. That security can afford us patience to work through unanswered questions. With the accompanying courage we learn to accept and live with ambiguity. Only One knows everything. That is God, whom we ultimately trust.
His presence, with us and in us, is enough. Trusting Him, we have no need to resort to name calling or to see those who think differently as demonic opponents. Jesus demonstrated that God alone can give us the ability to offer sufficient love in our interactions with others to open doors for dialogue.