Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hate Thy Neighbor?

A colleague of mine was chatting with me the other day about how he was preparing himself for the annual Christmas party at his neighbor's home.  He wasn't looking forward to it, as I will soon explain. Personally, I would have thought such affairs had long since died out with service station attendants, horse-drawn sleigh rides, barn dances, bomb shelters, and the I Love Lucy Show.  So, I thought to myself, how nice.

It was quite apparent my friend didn't share my sentiment.  He was dreading the event because--according to him--all his neighbors were ________s (the reader should fill in the political party of his/her choice here because I'm not interested in supporting or deprecating either party, either by implication or otherwise).  He went on to say this made them all idiots, and their candidate less than the lowest form of life.  "I hate the guy," he said.  Then he went on to say something I later wished I had had the wherewithal to challenge--hopefully kindly--on the spot.  Unfortunately, I don't do well in confrontational situations, even relatively benign ones, such as the one I'm relating, here.  Generally, I'm the type of person who must go to the quiet of his library to ponder an idea, opinion, comment, and what else that had been launched my way.  Then, after deliberation--sometimes careful, sometimes not so much--I might seek the person out to comment.  Of course, often times I will never see the person again, or the person had been speaking via the TV or some other unapproachable medium; so, I am left with an unresolved debate festering in my craw, like water slowly bubbling up through a clogged drain.

I don't know if I will speak with my colleague about his comment; I find it difficult conversing with him because he tends to be sarcastic and evasive.  However, I know you, dear reader, are open to discussing things with me, even though we might end up disagreeing with each other.

After unleashing his cache of vitriol at his hapless neighbors and their political candidate, my colleague said--I guess as a way of validating his opinion--"You see, I take the matter of right and wrong quite seriously."

In the words of Spock, "Fascinating, Captain."

What I am to understand from his addendum is party X, its candidate, and its supporters stand for what is wrong, and the opposing party Y, which my colleague supports along with its candidate and followers, stands for what is right.

I would like to say two things about this.  First,  I've heard people from the opposing party spew the same degree of hate for my friend's party, and with equal conviction.  Secondly, all the people who play this hate card--regardless of their allegiances--are deluded if they speak of hating someone and being right while also keeping a straight face.

Our Lord, Master, King Jesus the Christ made it very clear one cannot hate another and be in the right. He taught us,

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." [NET]

Top line: We are to love everyone because God loves everyone.  If God, who is the only one with the the authority and wisdom, and therefore the right to hate anyone, doesn't hate anyone, then it is the height of arrogance for any of us to believe it is right to hate others--regardless of whom the others might be.

The buck needs to stop with each of us on this issue of hating; we can't look to others to solve the problem. If we pass the buck we will see the world continue to grew more bigoted, more divided, and more disordered.  And the violence that naturally accompanies such chaos will grow ever more virulent and commonplace.