Yesterday I read a few of the stories that were deemed “Headline Worthy”. Among those was the story of a U.S. soldier who decided, for reasons unknown, to senselessly murder civilians in the early morning hours in Afghanistan. I also read about a massacre in Syria and even more deaths in Gaza. On any given day I suppose that you could read about dozens of violent crimes which were committed in every country on Earth.
My first reaction to these stories was anger. I was angry that someone could be so heartless as to kill innocent children for no apparent reason. I was angry that national leaders were so wrapped up in their own selfish agendas that sustainable peace for Israel and Palestine seems beyond impossible. I was angry that so many “bad” people inhabit this crazy world.
However, I have started a new discipline that I hope to continue long after Lent. If I feel the desire to react quickly, I have been trying to intentionally slow myself down and ask a few questions. 1. Will I regret making this statement public? 2. Do I have even the slightest idea of what I am talking about or am I just talking? 3. Does my reaction to this issue carry with it the potential to be needlessly offensive?
As I look back at many of the conversations I have participated in, through blogs, facebook and one on one interactions, I see a distinct pattern of ignoring those 3 questions. So, rather than reacting in anger to what I read yesterday I decided to pray. What I began to feel was not so much anger as it was remorse. I also felt the need to repent. I believe in the old saying that the line between good and evil runs through all of us. This means that if I lived in a different context and was raised with a different set of morals, I would probably be capable of the same evil that angers me today.
My lack of violence does not make me a better person than the man who slayed those children in Afghanistan. The image of God that exists within me also exists within him. Rather than becoming angry at his blatant disregard of that image, I believe that I must further allow God to remove the layers of falseness that covers His image in me. Through this journey I pray that I not only become a more compassionate and loving person, but that His image in me becomes more visible to others who then see it more and more in themselves.