… by all means, in all ways, in all places, at all times, to all people.
I was a born in the 1960s and have few memories of the chaos and division that took place in American society of that time. I was too young to be aware of John Kennedy’s assassination, and when Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were shot, my world hardly went beyond my back yard. Memories I retain of the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War protests are tied to music: Peter, Paul and Mary; Bob Dylan; and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
So, despite my age of 58, living in the current era is my first experience of raw civil discord that feels interminable, and there are days it shakes me. One of the first questions I ask when I wake in the morning is, “Do I really want to listen to the news?” But I do, because the United States is my country, and planet earth is my home. I feel an obligation to be informed.
Still, for all its worth, information doesn’t help me cope. New updates don’t give me insight on how to repair the world.
I am discouraged and overwhelmed some days by the scale of our problems, and that we are distracted by intrigue and the heap of nonsense that fills our news outlets. Unlike the many elected officials shouting in the nation’s capital and the familiar names I see posting harsh opinions on socials media, I don’t care much that Kayne West was in the Oval Office. I have lost interest in twitter storms.
My nightmare is having a TV camera foisted in my face and being asked to state my opinion. I would be at a loss for words. I wouldn’t know what to say. I am nonplussed.
Maybe it’s that the world does not need my opinion. We are certainly not in short supply of outrage. In the internet age, any Joe can make his views known to the world on Judge Kavanagh or whether the president should have held a rally on the night Hurricane Michael swept through the panhandle. All we have to do is shout into our smartphones and hit send. It’s so easy to make noise, noise, noise.
Lately my mind has been turning to the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus speaks of judgment day. The pages I am referring to are situated near the end of the Gospel. With his ministry in Galilee and the territories beyond completed, Jesus is about to be tried for blasphemy and nailed to a cross. He finishes his course by saying that when we welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the prisoner, we have done it for him. On these principles we will be received into the kingdom or cast in the outer darkness “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Put another way, John Wesley preached, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
To that end, I’m not convinced Jesus is interested in whether or not I am appalled. He desires I act with kindness.