QUADRIVIUM

Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Meanness

with 2 comments

Why are we mean?  Why do we do that?  We say things that hurt people, and we do it without intention.  Sometimes, we do it with intention.  We are calculated in our meanness, and it lingers.  It bores into our hearts and blackens our souls.  Why are we mean? 

A friend of mine drove through a major thoroughfare today, tailgated by someone for several miles.  When the moment came, the tailgater swung around, pulled up along side my friend and rolled down his window.  The actual quote is laced with certain profanities, but the gist of the tailgater’s short rant was, “If you can’t drive that thing, stay off the road.” 

What was that?  Was it brave?  Was it just a man having a bad day?  I don’t know if he felt bad about it later.  Maybe he did.  I know I have said things that have caused harm and cut deep.  I think about those words and my remorse is great.  Call it sin, call it evil, call it breaking the rules of an implied social order—there is something wrong with the world.  It’s broken, like the gears of a faulty clock, struggling every a second to beat in time with an eternal clock, falling back a fraction with every movement. 

Why are we mean?  Why are we so callous?  I know that the world is broken, and that sin sits in every heart like a panther stalking prey.  Somehow, through grace and through faith, and through the action of a man dying on a cross, we can cross a bridge over the brokenness. Yet we’re still mean.  At times, we grow cold. 

How do we kill the panther?  How can we burn its flesh and drive it away to its cave? 

Is it fear or is it prejudice?  Are we mean when we sense danger and move to preempt the coming blow?  Were we to hold back our fist, would the blow ever come?  Yes.  And no.  I can never tell when I’m about to get hit.  Still, there is a small part, a whisper, that tells me that I deserve it.  I suppose that I do.  If we can ascribe a give and take to things—an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth—then yes, I deserve it when people are mean to me.  So I want to be good.  Good so that someday, good will come to me. 

Unfortunately, we know it doesn’t work that way either.  For all the good Mother Teresa gave to others, she still had to die.  God did not send a fiery chariot to scoop her up and deliver her into paradise as He did with Elijah.  Hurricane after hurricane has pounded the Gulf coast over the past few years, and there were good people there.  There is a badness, and it strikes with impunity and disregards our best efforts to explain it away. 

So then, why are we good?  What is it that leads us to let the tailgater go?  Why do we hold doors open for the elderly if it can’t stop the bad?  Perhaps, if there is something wrong with the world, then there is something that makes it better.  Something that heals the wounds.  My words feel so inadequate to capture it, though many books have tried to understand Jesus Christ.  I go back in my mind often to that moment in the Gospels when the Pharisees bring a woman to Jesus.  This woman was found in the very act of adultery, and according to the Law, she is to be stoned.  Stoning would be horrible way to go.  People stand in a circle and throw stone after stone until the offender is dead.  That could take a long time.  It would take many hits.  But Jesus does this extraordinary thing.  He sets her free.  He gives her only the instruction to leave her life of sin.  That’s all.  No questions about her faith.  We are not even told if her heart was penitent.  He still sets her free. 

He still sets her free…

There’s something there, sitting in that unreachable place.  I would really like to touch it someday.  

Advertisements

Written by taj

September 2, 2006 at 10:32 pm

Posted in Questions

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ah, the dilemma that has concerned mankind since we were illumined enough to ponder. And the same conclusion reached…we can’t understand it, it doesn’t resonate well with our understanding, with our experience of a kind, loving, and forgiving God. We must be willing to trust Him, resting in the fact that we know, we KNOW, that he is kind and loving and forgiving, even when we, in our infinite ignorance, don’t understand what he’s doing.

    A wonderful and insightful post.

    ralph

    September 3, 2006 at 6:20 am

  2. “Why are we mean?”

    Because we are average!

    CalvinDude

    September 6, 2006 at 1:17 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: