Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Have a Confession To Make

Do you ever have one of those thoughts that seems so complicated and multi-layered and has like, a hundred different implications, so much so that you can't even really figure out what it is you're so bothered about? Well of course you do, I think we all do.  So for today, here's mine:

"I hate mean people".
Now that I've said that, allow me to explain what it does mean and what it doesn't mean.  I'll start with the latter, first:

It doesn't mean I actually hate the person who is being mean, I just hate that they are being mean.  It has taken me a very long time to get to a place where I don't actually hate any human being and we all know there are many of them to choose from.  From serial rapists to blood-thirsty dictators to child molesters, and beyond.  Lots of people out there to hate, but separating the person from the deed is important, since we're all created in the image of God. Still, my first reaction is to say or think "I hate (that person)" even though I mean to relay that I hate what they're doing. To be honest, I still struggle from time to time with actually, literally hating the person. However, I'm always convicted by it and it happens less and less as the years go by.

The Mean Germ - looks as ugly as it is
Now let me explain what I mean by mean.  When I say mean, I mean to imply malicious, intentionally hurtful, racist, sexist, condemning, spiteful, lying, nasty, bitter, catty, hateful, condescending, belittling, toxic, dismissive, degrading and demeaning.  I probably mean a lot more than that, but you get the idea.

Even as I think this and type this, I stand guilty as charged at times for saying something or even thinking something somewhere in that spectrum of "mean" that I either didn't intend for it to sound mean, or worse, did intend for it to sound mean. While it's no one's fault but my own, there are some people in this world that tend to bring out the worst in all of us. Like a wretched virus or a deadly bacteria that has spread so fast you didn't even see it coming before you were infected too.  Of course as a Christian I believe this is simply profound evidence of our sinful nature and how we need to be in control of our minds, hearts and words at all times. Also, how we need to seriously and as often as possible keep our exposure to such vile things at a minimum, and our exposure to awesome, uplifting, encouraging and hopeful things and people, at a maximum.

Fact is, I'm a weak-minded person.  I always have been.  When I'm around people who cuss and swear all the time, I have a tendency to use the same kinds of words if I get mad or hurt my toe or something.  If I'm around people who are loud and obnoxious and yelling, I have a tendency to start getting loud and wanting to yell above them.  If I'm around people who are mean, I have this urge to be mean back.  Actually, I have an urge to slap them upside the head but that's the same thing, just in physical form.  I honestly hate this about myself but it's the truth of who I am.  I am SO thankful that I actually have a very limited exposure to those kinds of people.  I work from home, and for the most part I only read about those kinds of people online or hear about them from others who have to work around them or live around them.  There's a reason the old cliche' "garbage in - garbage out" is still being used.  Folks say it, because it's true. Being around people like this or being immersed in an atmosphere of toxic, bitter, hateful people will rub off on you faster than you realize. Gotta take that garbage out before it starts stinking up the whole house, you know?

There are several items in the news lately that kept reinforcing this "I hate mean people" thought.

Ted Wells' report of the Miami Dolphins/Richie Incognito bullying.  Like everyone else who reads/watches the news, we've all been hearing snippets here and there for a while now.  However, I will tell you I was NOT prepared for what I read in this report and I wish to CAUTION you before you click that link.  It is downright vile.  Like Larry Elder said on twitter this morning
I know there are people out there like this, who say things and think things like this, but I cannot get my head around it and I don't want to.  I cannot even imagine being in the same room with men who speak this way or think this way of women. It makes my skin crawl.

• The Marie Claire slap in the face (and the brutal tweets that followed) of Candace Cameron Bure.  Granted, this happened a while ago but as I watched a clip of Dana Loesch's interview with her today, it came up again and made me remember reading this thread at about it and comments on other sites as well.  What did Mrs. Bure say that was so controversial?  She admitted to being a Biblically submissive wife.  For that, she was called pathetic, ignorant, psychopath and ridiculous, among other very personally insulting things.  The way she responded was pure class, and restraint.  I admire this lady, and she's an amazing role model for young women.  For that matter, she's a great example for me too, and I'm 12 years older than her.

• In local, London Ontario news, what I'll call the Flag Flap.  City council was deciding on whether or not to raise the rainbow flag at city hall to show a solidarity and support of the gay athletes performing at the Olympics in Sochi, and several local talk radio shows had segments on this very subject.  All of them have FB and twitter and the comments that came flooding in were overwhelmingly revolting, from BOTH sides of the issue.  Now, as a Christian, I have my own thoughts on the homosexual lifestyle and what the Bible teaches about it but I was actually stunned at what many people were saying.  I can't even repeat it here because it was vile, hateful, cruel, vulgar and repugnant, from both those for raising the flag, and those against raising the flag. Granted, there were some voices of reason on both sides as well, but they were quickly drowned out by the voices of malice and hate.

It genuinely grieved my heart to see people calling themselves Christians, quoting Scripture and then beating others over the head verbally, calling them all kinds of nasty names, and actually wishing harm and disease on them.  I didn't dare jump into that fray but I desperately wanted to scream THIS IS NOT CHRISTIANITY!  Christ never acted this way towards anyone, no matter what their lifestyle.   Yes, the Bible does teach that homosexuality is wrong and yes I believe that too, but there is no Biblical precedent for shaming the name of Christ, IN His name, while you behave like a hateful monster.  That honestly blew me away.

What else blew me away was seeing the comments from the pro-raise-the-flag crowd. Now keeping in mind I'm not "out there" in the world every day like most people since I work from home.  The extent of my face-to-face interaction with folks is church, errands, school stuff, and out to dinner or lunch once in a while. I don't have the advantage of working 9-5 with a diverse group of people and having those water-cooler conversations so this may or may not be news to anyone at all, I don't really know. This also may be a case of Internet Troll 101, where creepy people feel the freedom to be even more creepy behind the facade of anonymity of their keyboards.

In any case, some of these folks were not only mean and hateful to the anti-raise-the-flag crowd (even the anti ones that weren't rude about it at all) but they were vulgar, obscene and sexually graphic in their depictions of their lives.  I sat there reading the comments thinking "she did not just type that... did she just type that?... no, she did NOT just type that!"  Then, I had to click away from that train wreck and boil my eyeballs in bleach.  The same exact bleach I'd use if I read a heterosexual woman describing her promiscuous sexual activity in graphic detail, just so we're clear.  I have a very very difficult time believing most folks in the gay community want to be represented by this kind of language and behavior, the same way most of us in the Christian community most definitely don't want to be represented by the sort of Fred Phelps-ish jerktastic behavior.

All that to say... I hate mean people (see above for the translation of what that does and does not mean).  I don't care if they're black, white, Christian, atheist, liberal, conservative, feminist, homosexual, straight, fat, skinny, bald, hairy, celebrity or homemaker, short or tall.  If they're mean, just for the sake of being mean, they're creeps.  Not because of who they are or what they are, but because they're creeps on the inside.  Oddly enough, almost always they use their outside, their labels that they've labeled themselves with, to defend that creepiness and throw you and I under the bus if they're called out for being creeps.  If called out, they scream racist, sexist or homophobe, bigot or fat-shamer or God-hater or some other label.  They seem convinced that they've been called out for their outside, or their label, instead of because they're just a real jerk on the inside.  They can't seem to see that, for whatever reason. I always wonder if someone spoke to their child the way they speak to other people, if they'd see it then?  Maybe they would. Maybe not.

It's kind of overwhelming but the beautiful thing is, I can turn it all off with 1 click, and do my level best to keep teaching my kids how to never ever ever act, and how to always always treat people no matter who they are, what they are, or where they come from.  God help us all, to raise up a generation of people that just treat other people like human beings, worthy of dignity because they are created in the image of Him.