Tag Archives: news

Malignant Anger

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“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”  –Friedrich Nietzsche

Again, I planned to write about something different today.  And I still might.  But what was going to be a nice, quiet day off before my week begins started with indignation. 

I rolled over and checked my phone after hearing a text message arrive.  It was an unknown number from my home area code.  Because my brothers are in flux and their numbers could very well change, I immediately read it.  I will forever regret that I did.  The message told me to flip open and read the message inside my phone.  This happens when the message is more than 160 characters, so I assumed it was just a long text.  It also happens when I receive a photo, which I forgot.

I opened my phone to see a beaten, bloody face of Osama bin Laden and the caption, “Say hi to Allah.”  I was sickened.  I was mad.  I was horrified.  This is something I would have, and will continue to, go out of my way not to see.  This is what bothered me so much last night as I watched the news.  This is something I should not have had to see.  This is something I will never un-see.

I texted back that I didn’t know who the sender was, but that this was disgusting and offensive, all of which was true.  The response was that they typed a wrong number.  I let my fury get the better of me and  typed back that they should be proud to have sunk to bin Laden’s sadistic level.  I now feel bad about letting my anger take over.  I was about to follow that with a “but…” statement, but there is no but.  I feel bad.  There is no explanation of my thoughts or feelings that justifies acting rashly in anger.

“Anger is a killing thing:  it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before – it takes something from him.”  –Louis L’Armour

And that is the whole point.  We are cheering and celebrating more death.  We are happy that yet another life has been taken because of bin Laden’s hatred.  The United States is partying in honor of murder.  Our anger is animalizing.  It sinks us below justice to vengeance.  I do sympathize with the fact that there are still families mourning lost loved ones.  There is justifiable outrage over the destruction that bin Laden caused.  However, there is a gross baseness, an indignity to the gloating, the joy over his death.  Call it self-righteousness, call it hypocrisy, call it illogical, but I feel a distinction between a resignation that this killing needed to happen, acceptance of it, and the elation and revelry filling the midday news.  I am disappointed that we are treating his death not as closure, but as fodder for jokes.

And this disappointment, this unease, is what has been churning inside me.  But my anger was less with my unknown texter’s callousness.  It was not with their racist caption or macabre glee.  It was their carelessness.  Perhaps it is an emotional dehumanization that comes with texting.  Perhaps it is because they could not see a person’s face as they read it or hear their voice.  Perhaps it is a boldness that comes with anonymity, hiding behind phone lines and screens.  Perhaps they are just distasteful and could not care less if they said this out loud too.  I was mad because this all happened with so little care, so little thought for the consequences. 

 What I saw this morning I can’t take back.  I don’t get back that time before I saw that bloody face.  I don’t get to return to a morning where I didn’t have physical proof of the depravity of humanity.  I don’t get to reclaim my mind.  I did not want to see and read that.  I did not choose to indulge the darkness that others are enjoying.  It was forced upon me.  I was pulled into this by someone who didn’t care enough to get the right number before passing on a battered corpse’s photo.  They didn’t think enough before writing an offensive, anti-Muslim message to type the right number.  They didn’t care.  They changed me.  I am different now.  I am haunted.  I am jaded.  My day is ruined and I can’t shake the dirty feeling that photo rooted in me.  And this sender didn’t care.  That indifference, that indiscretion, that general disregard for the consequences of their actions– that, that is why I am angry today.

“What I want to do and what I do are two separate things. If we all went around doing what we wanted all the time, there’d be chaos.”  —Simon Birch

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Not-So-Small Talk

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“And how can we live, never meeting you?”

“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.

“Are–are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan.  “But there I have another name.  You must learn to know me by that name.  This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”  —C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I have been thinking about this idea a lot lately, but this short article I read tonight confirmed my instincts: shallow is unsatisfying. 

I have struggled since graduating college with making friends that I truly and deeply connect with.  The people I met in school were not superior or smarter or deeper because they were college kids.  They did tend to be people working at understanding and  living out their lives with God at the center.  They were struggling with doubts and insecurities and disappointments, but they had a certain lense that they saw the world through: Christ.  Even those who did not believe the same things I do seemed to be open to looking, to seeking to know what it is that gives this life meaning.  This is not to say that the people I’ve met since don’t have this same drive, because I think, deep down, we all do.  It simply doesn’t come up.

I love movies.  I love television.  I like to shop and am trying to learn how to cook.  I read the news on occasion and have minimal knowledge of video games, sports and geography.  This can make for conversations that stretch far beyond the weather, which is always gorgeous, but at some point they stop satisfying.  At some point, something about the talks I had with people about God and our purpose in life, justice and passion, doubt and excitement as we began to understand more, they seemed to leave me full.  I was grounded and stretched in my own ideas and thought, challenged to put what I learned and discovered into practice.  I spent four years thinking about who my Creator and Redeemer is, who I am, what we have to do with each other, and my place among the rest of the world.  Big stuff, at times, but the stuff that fuels me.

The people I enjoy spending time with the most are those who venture into these heavier realms.  I know that I won’t always agree with what others think, and that religion is a personal, sensitive subject.  But it’s not even all about doctrine and ritual.  It’s the core questions that stir deep in all of us: who am I, really?  What am I doing with my life?  What is the point of all of this?  Those are huge questions with a million smaller questions hiding inside them.  I don’t mean to say that every conversation needs to result in a complete examination of one’s soul, but at times, it’s nice to leave the world of gossip and pleasantries behind.

I miss the talks that I used to have.  Very few people today talk with me about my passions, my gifts.  No one really asks what I have and want to offer the world.  No one asks my thoughts on social justice or forgiveness or joy.  I miss those times of really being asked questions, of dialogue that made me see myself and the other person in bigger ways.  As I think about this longing for deep conversation, I realize that the talks aren’t  necessarily even what I miss.

I miss God.  I miss having people share in my journey to know Him.  I miss being asked how I feel about Him and reminded how He feels about me.  I know that I can and should go to church to fill this void.  It somehow does not feel the same, though, without those close friends who knew me well enough to really dig into my life.  I just know that I love my friends from high school and my childhood.  No one will know me in quite the same way as those people who watched me learn ride a bike and drive, read and wear makeup.  I love the friends I have made recently.  They remind me what it is to have fun and enjoy living in the moment.  However, I haven’t loved people, loved God, loved myself, the way that I did in college.  I haven’t known what it is to be truly happy, loving, passionate, peaceful and generous like I did then.  I miss those days of seeking God’s intentions and desires for me and my life.  I recently have felt, as strong as the sun on my shoulders, the call of God to know Him again.  It may be sparked by the books I have read or the music I have played, but I feel a slow fire starting to kindle the passion I had for scripture, for prayer and for God’s heart for this world.  My heart has ached for the discipline of learning about Him, loving Him and others.  I want to be the person I was when I cared more about ministry than school or social status.  It’s scary when I think of how far I have pulled from that life, how little I think about the one who constantly seeks me.  It’s also a relief to know that at my core, in the deepest, most authentic part of me, I am still seeking Him.

 

“But everything inside you knows/ There’s more than what you’ve heard/ There’s so much more than empty conversations/ Filled with empty words/ And you’re on fire/ When He’s near you/ You’re on fire/ When He speaks/ You’re on fire/ Burning at these mysteries…”  –Switchfoot, “On Fire”