If you watch television news these days, the mantra “if it bleeds, it leads” is certainly evident.
Fires, guns, shootings, people “attacking” others physically or verbally, lots of name-calling and way too much blaming. Did I leave anything out? It seems the “angry world” is erupting every day.
When Paul was in the ancient city of Ephesus, a tumultuous place, he wrote a letter to the city of Corinth, also a rather pagan city. Near the end of the letter in Chapter 13, he describes what love is. Most of us have heard some portion of that chapter read at a wedding ceremony or other special occasion. He concludes, “Now there remains faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” I wonder if Paul really thought love is possible in a world like ours. Or faith, or hope?
But I recall that less than 250 years ago, many of the people who founded this nation were bound together only by faith that a new and fair government could be formed. That faith saw them through bloody battles with an overwhelmingly stronger fighting force. They believed the flag would still be waving after the bombs stopped bursting in the air — and it was still there!
I also remember that in the face of debilitating cancer and other diseases, people who had nothing left except hope have come back from death’s door to a new and miraculous life. Medicine helped, but it was the hope of healing that turned the death sentence on its ear.
And in our lifetime Martin Luther King demonstrated that love overcame long injustices in our country, even as Gandhi had shown the power of love in India. So what’s happening in our world that these forces don’t seem to surface to lead us?
Let’s try these truths by which to examine our behavior on the present scene.
First, we are driven by the tyranny of the urgent rather than the dream of our future. Decisions made in the heat of the moment almost always need to be revised. Rational thinking usually leads us to better solutions.
Second, we tend to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. What is seen is temporal, but what is unseen is eternal. The pressure of the immediate can often lead us astray from the call of the eternal. Passion is important but persistence is needed to help us maintain a successful strategy.
Third, our world seems to have lost its anchor in a sea of relativism. It’s hard to see the eternal when the temporal is brutally beating us. Too many of us are buoyed by our own importance.
An old undocumented story of the young ensign seeing a light in the distance and broadcasting the message, identifying his vessel and calling for the other light ahead to alter its course 15 degrees to the North. What he heard infuriated him when the other light radioed back, “Alter your course by 15 degrees to the South.” The young sailor once more identified himself as a destroyer and commanded the other signal to alter its course. He heard the final message, “I am the lighthouse; alter your course. Your call.”
Perhaps if we learn to scream less about our authority, be less defiant about our attitudes, and obey the signals of the Lighthouse of life, we too can find a more peaceful resolution for our anger.