In the last few years I have lost a number of friends. I’m about to loose a few more it seems as we head into the election. This has been and continues to be very distressing.
Most of the dissent has come from a turning away from compassion and turning toward self interest and the means used to justify that turn. When I address this turn and especially the means used to justify the turn the relationships break down.
Again, this is so distressing to me. Heartbreaking. Most of these people would have once advocated for the same things I am. They would have said loving your neighbor is central to any understanding of Christian life and spirituality. They would have said telling the truth is always required. They would have shuddered at the thought of disregarding law and ethics. They would have said the character of leaders was paramount.
They don’t say these things anymore. And they argue against them. Character doesn’t count any longer unless it can be used as leverage against their opponents. Laws and ethics are guidelines to be abandoned when convenient. Effectiveness, meaning getting what I want, is far preferred over character. Truth has been long abandoned for conspiracies, half-truths, lies, personal attacks, combined with a ruthless repetition even after clearly knowing what they are saying is factually inaccurate or unsupported by evidence.
The people I am thinking of today all claim to be followers of Christ. They claim their heart and soul and whole life to be given to Him. Obedient. But the golden rule of treating others as you wish to be treated is in little evidence. Loving your neighbor is reduced to loving those who agree with me. Laying down your life for another has become laying into another to gain advantage or power over them.
Selfishness and egoism have largely replaced compassion in some quarters. Along with it we have lost kindness, gentleness, self-control, gratitude, honesty, integrity and a slew of other good and beautiful parts of our lives.
Direct confrontation, while sometimes necessary just to stop certain types of acting out, isn’t very effective at long term changes. Relationships seldom survive. I have seen so few people admit to being mistaken or in error. Instead they double down or go on the attack or sulk off with their resentments.
James Taylor in his Secret ‘O Life sang “’Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.” And we all do. A compassionate life is the only way. But it is easy to wander from the path of right relationship. It is easy to think of ourselves first and foremost. These things are easy but they aren’t okay. We need to be better.
But how did we get here? Why such deep changes in people’s hearts and actions? What were the pressures, the societal forces, the fears in their hearts that caused them to wander? How can we help them back to the only road?
Over the next several months I will try to answer these questions bit by bit. I will also try to show the only road for all it’s goodness and lay out the path of a compassionate life.