There’s a lot of talk about ‘the times we’re in’. It’s a time like no other, a time of testing, a unique time, a time of sorrow and pain, a time of…. well, the list goes on.
I think this time is a mirror. A telling and revealing time.
What does it reveal? It reveals the sort of people we are.
When facism was on the rise in Germany, in the 1930’s, it was the obedient civilian, the person who wanted most to please the new regime, who ultimately elevated this new social monster to power. Without the good and law abiding citizen the Nazi regime would never have survived.
When this embryonic legalistic regime printed its edicts and new laws, it was the respectable and entirely law-abiding citizen who complied with the most zeal. Their self-righteous adherence to the law bolstered the groundswell of this new and unpleasant social attitude. I think we need to reflect on that.
The entirely ordinary men and women, who like you and me loved children and were kind to animals, these were the good people who betrayed their friends to the authorities, amassed ‘proof’ of imagined crimes, shouted insults, called names, accused and judged and despised others.
Good people, when they try too hard to be seen as good, end up doing bad things.
Good people, when they make judgments too quickly and too harshly, end up doing bad things.
Good people, even really good people, when they are afraid, can end up doing unpleasant things.
Good people, when they feel in the right, can be unthinkingly cruel.
It’s a true saying that Covid has brought out the best and the worst of us. The best is the care we have for each other, the worst is the creeping vigilanteism, the desire to ‘name and shame’, and the proud display of self-righteous anger.
You know, if someone from miles away comes into the town or village, at risk of bringing disease to the community, we have a duty to politely ask them if they need to be here. Politely. Kindly. And we have a duty to listen to their answer, and to try to understand their reasons. To care about them. And if they shouldn’t be here, we have the right to politely remind them about the current situation and if needed to report them so that they can be returned home. But we don’t have the right to shout at them, to assume the worst of them, to take a photograph of them, to shame them in any way, to call them idiots or any other derogatory term. This is aggression, and it’s ugly.
This is not a good way for society to develop. It’s not good for anyone, either the person judging or the person being judged.
Think the best of people, talk to them, don’t point the finger and accuse.
I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up in a society which is all about judgmentalism, legalism, sanctimony. I don’t want them to grow into self-righteous vigilant adults, forever spying on others, thinking the worst of people in order to bolster their own worth.
I want my grandchildren to grow up in society which is about kindness, love, care and responsibility so that they will become kind, loving, responsible adults.
The choice is ours, and this is the time when we have to make that choice. This is the time when ‘the rubber hits the road’.
This is the time, this Covid time, when we discover what sort of people we are.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7