Dear Friends in Christ,
Have you had the feeling lately that someone is watching you? It’s true; they are. They are looking to see — are you wearing a mask or are you an anarchist? Are you fearful, or callous and reckless in regard to others? There is a lot of scrutiny and judgment out there in our society right now?
This has come about with the recent discovery that within a society our actions do affect others. Imagine that! A lot has been revealed to us lately. The truth is always a good thing. The question becomes: What do you do with it? The impact of individual decisions ripple through a society. Has it really taken a virus to teach us this?
Human society, being sinful, can produce frightening results on the basis of that awareness. Social pressure ramps up. Judgment and condemnation, even leading to violence, can increase. Greater impulse toward conformity; counter-reaction (“don’t tell me what to do”); we add strain upon strain.
Our present situation can also increase our awareness of our responsibility toward others, which is a good thing.
Society in a sinful world is a complex affair. Sometimes the absence of simple solutions can drive us deeper into solitude and isolation. Unable to satisfy or endure the demands of society, those who lack the drive to try to control others drop out and distance themselves from an untenable situation.
Monastacism grew up in the late antique world due in part to the unwillingness of some to try to navigate in a world that they saw as corrupt and corrupting. Self-exclusion and removal resulted. Monks fled to the desert or cloister. But then what happens when those people drop out? The society that they leave behind becomes more dominated by the negative forces from which such refugees fled. The bad guys win.
Luther and the Reformers, in their times, urged those who had recused themselves to the monasteries to re-enter society and to infuse it with their efforts to improve rather than to abandon it.
Have you gotten dirty looks lately, or been verbally accosted? It’s hard not to let such things upset you. I’m not saying that they are right, or have the right. But, try hard to bear up. Try to just smile. It won’t help to retaliate. It doesn’t feel good just to swallow it. It couldn’t have felt good to our Lord, either, to endure what he did.
The world isn’t nice–especially now. Fear can make people nasty. Try to be patient and empathetic. Stay in the world and try to better it. Choosing up sides is the worst thing we can do.