“I’m O.K. – You’re Pure Evil”
That’s the headline of Frank Bruni’s latest column in the New York Times, in which he provides commentary on the toxic nature of America’s political dialogue. Among other things, Bruni writes the following:
“Our language is growing coarser. Our images too. And even if they’re only rarely a conduit to violence, they’re always a path away from high-minded engagement.
Madonna fantasizes about blowing up the White House. Kathy Griffin displays a likeness of Trump’s severed head. Stephen Colbert uses a crude term to describe Trump as Putin’s sexual boy toy. Maher suggests that Trump and his daughter Ivanka have engaged in incest. I don’t question the earnestness of these entertainers’ objections to Trump, which are wholly warranted. I ask whether they’re converting even one person with a contrary view.
Lately, Trump and his children have been playing the victims of all this, but save your tears. He has been an enormous part of the problem, from before his candidacy to the present.
We’re surrendering restraint and a musty but worthy thing called tact, in ways guaranteed to widen the divisions between us…For more and more Americans, the other side isn’t merely misguided in the extreme. It’s evil in the absolute, and virtue is measured by the starkness with which that evil is labeled and reviled. There are emotional satisfactions to this. There is also a terrible price.”
Bruni rightly laments the state of our public discourse, and over the last few days I have seen and heard (via TV, internet, and print) many prominent national leaders wonder aloud how – and even if – we can reverse this problematic pattern of verbal abuse and slander.
Yet, the Bible is never mentioned as a roadmap to peace.
This is largely due to the fact that Christianity is in the process of being marginalized in our society because it is viewed in popular culture as an oppressive and primitive religion that has nothing of value to contribute to society.
But just look at these words from Ephesians 4:25-5:1 and ask yourself if they could be applied to the current situation Frank Bruni is writing about…
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (emphasis mine).
Imagine if these were the values our society lived by and championed? Imagine how much better people of all stripes would get along if this behavior is what we rewarded in our culture? Imagine if this was the standard of wise living for which we strove in America?
The Bible, containing the wisdom of God, calls people to a higher standard of living. It calls people out of the base behavior we default to when our selfishness is allowed to reign supreme. And it calls people to treat one another with respect.
Why is this wisdom being marginalized?
If we would follow the example of Christ and the ethical standards of God’s Word, we could reverse the coarsening of our society.