A Piece of My Day

1.9: Freedom

Posted on: Monday, 10 January 2011

It has been a strange weekend for America. A shooting in Arizona has filled both news cycles and prayer lists alike. This morning, as I watched the latest news about this tragedy, the conversation centered on the vitriolic rhetoric in our country. The Congressmen and women who were being interviewed carefully stated that we’ve grown too divided as a nation, and that we have begun to think of our opponents in public discourse as not just being wrong, but as being evil.

Big difference.

Someone whom we think is wrong is still OK. They might not even pose much of a threat, because, after all, they’re wrong.

But someone whom we think is evil is a completely different story altogether because society tends to think of eradicating evil (or taking down someone whom we think of as evil) as a righteous act – as if we ourselves are ridding the world of evil singlehandedly. The problem is, of course, that if your definition of evil is really so limited as to include many of those who disagree with you, then – guess what? – there’s a lot of evil which surrounds you every day of your life. And that’s an awful lot of demons to fight. And so we pick up our weapons of choice (words, etc.) which we are free to bear, and we fight away.

In America, we have a lot of freedom. Freedom leaves room for a lot of different ideas and – thus – a lot of different words. But what disgusts me in much of current public discourse is that we are taking our freedoms and using them in irresponsible ways. We have freedom of speech and so we turn that into name calling – or worse. Where is the responsibility in that? We who teach our children not to call other kids in their classes names – we have the nerve to call our public officials names? We who teach our children not to bully other children – we have the nerve to target (literally or figuratively) another human being?

When I was a teacher, I found myself quoting 1 Corinthians 6:12a a lot – “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are beneficial.” And so while it may be perfectly legal to say some of the things we say, is it really beneficial? Does it really help anyone? Does it really build anyone up? Or does what we say serve only to tear another person (or another group) down? Or worse, does it serve to tear down society to a point where name-calling and meanness are a part of the status quo? And are we really so incredibly stupid to believe that this behavior won’t keep hurting us more and more, until our country can bear no more?

I told Hubby S tonight that I hope and pray that this incident – this tragedy (which is what it is) – will lead our society to a more peaceful place in how we speak to and about each other. It is time to take what we say more seriously. It is time to use our words responsibly. It is time for us to be bringers of peace to one another.





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