O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord, from this time on and for evermore. – Psalm 131
Jumping into political discourse these days is a lot like painting the eaves of your house. You think you’ve got it all under control (if I can re-e-e-e-each out just a little bit mo-o-o-o-re), when suddenly you realize you are contorting yourself and over-extending beyond your center of gravity, reaching out into thin air high above the ground and far beyond what’s safe and reasonable.
Some folks cling tightly by their fingertips and toes to their shaky, off-center support and continue to slap at the job, reality-be-damned. Others abandon the task at hand. The wise climb down, and revisit the problem from solid ground below (maybe if I adjust my position or slide over just a bit – maybe if I come at it from a different angle – is there something I’m overlooking?).
Painting your house or stating and defending an opinion: With each, the job you do will be out there on display for all to see and judge. The state of the exterior tells a lot about what kind of shape the inside is in, whether we’re talking about your home or your mind.
If you find yourself so extremely angry at those with whom you disagree that you consider them mortal enemies; if you stubbornly misrepresent their position in such an exaggerated way as to make it nonsensical; if you find fault, heap scorn, and assign sinister motives with anything they say and everything they do… I think you should consider climbing down off your ladder for a few minutes. You’re way beyond your center of gravity.
Calm and quiet your soul…
Look at your primary news sources: Do they simply reinforce opinions you already hold? Do they add to the pile rather than unearth new ways of looking at issues? If you mostly nod or shake your head along to the TV and radio, that’s probably what’s happening. If you slightly shift your head and bring your hand to your face, your preconceived notions are being challenged and you’re learning something.
Like a weaned child…
Turn it all off for a few days. Drive to and from work in silence. Unplug the shop radio. Hide the remote and don’t even turn on the TV for a weekend. Go outside instead.
…with its mother…
Pray. One of the first things I advise when someone is consumed with anger toward another is that they pray for that individual. The catch: Don’t pray that they will change their ways or be saved from themselves, but simply pray that God will bless them, and nothing more. Try it for a few days. The results will amaze you.
Yes, I’m talking about guns. Yes, I’m talking about immigration. Yes, I’m talking about Barack Obama. Yes, I’m talking about Mitch McConnell. Yes, I’m talking about contraception. Yes, I’m talking about illegal contact in the endzone. Yes, I’m talking about Al Sharpton. Yes, I’m talking about Franklin Graham. Yes, I’m talking about healthcare reform. Yes, I’m talking about the crap you post on Facebook. Yes, I’m talking about auto-tuned popstars. Yes, I’m talking about your blanket e-mails. Yes, I’m talking about the Mason-Dixon Line.
Yes, I’m talking about you and me.