Archive for August, 2014

Love Your Neighbor-Even on the Internet

August 13, 2014

I’m not going to write about Robin Williams today–his life or his death– as sad as I am about it. Many people have said and written many things, and I don’t have much to add to the discussion that hasn’t already been said. Neither am I going to write about my own struggles with depression. Many others have already said much about this disease as well, and I’ve written at other times and other places about my own struggles. But mainly, I just don’t have the words. My heart is heavy, and my spirit is weak, as they say.

What I am going to write about is the way we have all jumped on this bandwagon, for good or for bad, and used it to attack not only Robin Williams and others who have committed suicide, but attack each other as well. To draw a line between who’s in and who’s out, once again. If you think suicide is a waste, then you’re just wrong. If you think suicide is a choice, then you’re wrong, and get out of my face. If you think suicide is a selfish act, forget you, you must not have any compassion in your soul.

On the flip side we hear that people who commit suicide are taking the easy way out. That Robin Williams was a celebrity and how dare he be depressed with all the wealth and adulation he received? That suicide is a choice, is selfish, is the coward’s way out. And if you don’t see this, then obviously you’re delusional, you’re weak-minded, you don’t respect the hurt that suicide causes those left behind.

And of course, much of this is said, and written, not in the semi-polite terms that I’ve just recounted them, but with anger and bitterness and disrespect.

What is with us, people?

Why do we do this to each other? Why do we turn on each other in dark times when we should be turning toward each other for comfort and solace? Why do we let our own pain and sorrow turn us into mean people who seem to have little compassion for each other’s thoughts, feelings, pain and sorrow?

Suicide is a complex issue with many causes and many effects. Just like the Israel-Palestine situation is a complex issue with many causes and effects. And the refugee situation on our southern border is a complex issue with many causes and effects. Nothing in this world is as black and white as we seem to want to make it. We are forced to pick sides, to stake our claim, to draw lines in the sand. Me on one side, you on the other; me in, you out; nobody give an inch. What has happened to us? What has happened to the idea of walking a mile in another person’s moccasins?

This is not what the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel, wants from us. This isn’t what Jesus Christ lived and breathed and preached. God teaches us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Jesus tells us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and spirit, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We can’t love each other when we’re busy tearing each other down. But if we spend our time learning to love each other, regardless of who they are, what they say or what opinions they hold, it’s very hard to tear each other apart.

Now, I love the internet, and I enjoy social media– it can be a great tool for connecting with people around the world. But I think it also makes it much easier for us to behave meanly toward each other. It makes it much easier to frame issues in black and white rather than seeing the shades of gray, or even the bright colors that are in the world. It makes it much easier to express our dark side, to talk tough, to say hurtful and ugly things to others we don’t know and will most likely never meet.

Whether you believe in God or not, love and compassion are much easier on our spirit than hate and anger. I’m sure that we’ve all had times in which someone has shown us mercy, and treated us compassionately. Remember that compassion and act accordingly. Remember when someone has respected you even though disagreeing with you, and act accordingly. We don’t have to act like the  talking heads we see on TV, shouting at one another, ranting about things we don’t really understand.

Love, people. Love people.  It is, after all, the most excellent way.