We decry things that are happening around us, and we’re certain we would never take the same approach, but each of us needs to consider: What are we doing that is the early steps toward something similar? What are we cheering on and approving in our everyday conversations? What are we willing to watch? What are we thinking and entertaining? We might not do something as public and drastic, but what is at the root of our decisions? I recently wrote about the fostering of narcissism tendencies in our culture. Consider this:
A narcissist’s accusations are actually their confessions. What they say you are doing is in actuality what they are attempting to do to you.
Before we get defensive, let’s seriously reflect. How often do we point a finger at violence, apathy, discrimination, etc., and simultaneously embrace and apply some of those same values or approaches? Oh, it certainly looks and feels different. And hopefully, it is different. But sometimes it is more closely related than we want to admit.
One group’s violence is condemned. But ours is justified for [insert reason here].Others are so close-minded. But we are not. We are open-minded—about the things we want to be open-minded about. Have a conversation with some of “those people” who are so different than us? “It’s a waste of time,” we declare. “At least, I don’t [insert behavior here]”. Maybe not, but what do we do that others would insert into that field? “I’m just standing up for what’s right?” Are we, really? With what tactics? If we stand firm on an issue but with the wrong tactics, we don’t make progress. We don’t have the kind of influence we need to have.
There will always be some people on the fringe (for a variety of reasons, all of which are not through personal fault) that we might not be able to rein in. But for the rest of us, no matter where we stand on the continuum of perspective of what’s happening around us—today and any other time in our lives—we have personal responsibility. Let’s not just point to the “other side” and blame. Let’s do what we can to start a conversation, not with the presumption we can change someone but with the reality of impacting our spheres of influence.
We’re not trying to make everyone like us. We’re trying to develop relationships that show compassion, respect, humility, truth, strength, and faith. Like the narcissist, our adamant accusations might be revealing more about ourselves than we’d like to admit. And for those of us following God, we’re reflecting some less-then-decent characteristics and claims toward him. And I don’t think we’re doing a good job right now. At the very least, we can be better.