Sunday, January 25, 2015

Righteous Anger

The U.S. news circuits have carried stories all week long about the air pressure in footballs marked below the required levels. The New England Patriots have been vilified and condemned with benefit of the results of an investigation. No one wants a sport that they hold dear to be tainted by an imbalance of power by breaking the rules.

This message is not about the Patriots but is about our relationship to rules.

From early on in life, rules are introduced to our childhood games so that no one gains an unfair advantage over another. We are not given equal skills and abilities to succeed in each endeavor and we have all found ourselves in situations where we want to bend the rules to our advantage or we stop playing the game because we recognize we cannot compete well. Those rules become an important sense of equilibrium for us and we appeal to the rules as principles of integrity. Sometimes, we do not even bother finishing the game if we feel like someone has unfairly gained an advantage on us. Rules become our friends and cling close to them, especially when we are the weaker competitor.

We also hate rules. In competitions, we sometimes react with glee when we found a way to win that bent the rules and no one but a few of us know. Weren't we clever? We cry foul when the rules no longer serve us and we demand that they be changed to give us a better advantage, whether it is fair or not.

We disregard the rules whenever we can. We do not want to wait in lines so we try to cut in line because we know someone closer to the front. We are proud of our cleverness. We take whatever advantage we can. We also scan to see if there is shorter line and we will dash across aisles to get to that line, even if we cut off an elderly man or a mother who is trying to get her children to follow her.

When we are driving down the road, a thought enters into our mind and we bang a U-turn rather than follow the rules for safety. Or, we are in the left lane and we decide to take a right hand turn so we pass recklessly into the two other lanes to get what we want right away. We throw out our sense of safety and concern for the other for our self-centered concerns. We are bullies in just about every sphere of life. We hold ourselves as clever people because we made a decision that benefits us immediately, and though we threatened the safety of others, we made it to our goal. Is that action laudable? I do not find it to be so.

Books that instruct us how to take the best advantage of situations abound in stores and online. Be clever. Be surreptitious and cunning because the strong survive and are rewarded. Many cheat on taxes because they do not want to pay the government. We remain silent when a market charges us less for the cost of the goods we purchase, but we hold the store in disdain if they accidentally overcharge us. If the value of our mortgage goes down below market rate, we want to send the keys back to the bank. We resent our neighbor who was able to take an advantage of a program that gives them a financial break while we try to follow the rules and do things the right way.

Wisdom Literature in the Bible provides many instructions on dealing with those who do wrong while we try to do what is good and right. We have no blueprint for making the right choices - other than our Scripture and our conscience, which must be continually informed.

We get annoyed if we get a speeding ticket and we were not going as fast as the car next to us. It does not matter than we speed every day and place others' safety at risk. We simply do not like that the law told us our actions were negative. Everyone else speeds, runs red lights, disregards pedestrians and cyclists, and texts while driving. Why is it that poor little old me is caught? Surely, we want mercy.

We want the enforcers of the law to forgive us because we are basically good guys. At least, we are not evil people, like others. Surely people can see my goodness and my disregard of the law has no bearing on my goodness. Mercy, please! I'll do better next time (with fingers crossed behind my back.)

A whole week has passed with people on the airwaves casting dispersion on a situation in which they do not have data. Perhaps it is better for society if we were to examine our relationship to the law and mend our ways to promote the common good. When do we want mercy and compassion versus anger and condemnation. Who put us in the place to judge anyways?

Deal with your own actions and make sure they are positive. Drive safely, not fast. Obey the laws of society and promote the positive behavior and attitudes of others. Build up and encourage rather than taking down and destroying. We have a lot of work to do to change our hearts and attitudes. Perfect yourself and pay no mind to judging others. If we take care of our commitment to the law, we will simply find that we are more content, happier people. We will accept the transgressions of others with an open mind. We will create a more balanced world that has greater harmony. Work on these things first! This world needs your moral leadership. This world is longing for a better way to live.

No comments:

Post a Comment