Lesson 8: Words or Guns

A divided America Ever since I suggested last week that the most important contribution Christians make to overcoming the deep divisions in our society is compassionate love, significant events seemed to affirm or challenge my assertion.

The very next day an editorial was published in our local newspaper that demonstrated how severely alienated we have become. The writer was a neighbor who entitled his essay “Facing Evil.” He placed the label first on Dr. Fauci and then on the medical profession that supported him. He went on to call anyone who supported our governor evil and said that included all democrats who are really the American Communist party. His expanding list included the Lutheran Church for supporting gay-lesbian causes.

His final paragraphs were especially frightening as he thanked the founding fathers for the second amendment that he suggested might be our only way out of this “evil stew” created by “America-hating democrats.” He mused it might be necessary to kill all the lawyers for they control our legislatures and all the doctors for they support lockdowns during pandemics.

I came away wondering if compassionate love has a chance in opening the author’s heart. I also thought this guy had no respect for the power of words. His violent language could certainly incite violent actions. And for the first time, I found myself included with those deserving death.

My appreciation for the power of words was reinforced when a friend reported the author of the editorial based all his thoughts on an article that had appeared in Fox News the previous day. He followed its outline and simply ramped up the vitriol.

On other hand, I experienced the power of words going the other way later in the week. The first was in a private conversation with a Trump supporting friend of mine who decided to heal a broken relationship because of words from his son. He had sworn never to speak again with a friend who opposed his political views. His son said that did not sound like what he had taught him was the Christian thing to do when he was growing up. My friend said he thought he had better live up to his own words.

The second experience was finding myself leading a memorial service unexpectedly surrounded by Trump supporters. Prior to the service, I was very uncomfortable with the conversation. I was much much more at ease afterwards when I found people using the very words I used in the sermon. I do not attribute that to the quality of my sermon but simply to how much we are influenced by the words we hear. And of course, that cannot happen unless we are communicating with or in the presence of each other.

At the end of the week, I find myself even more concerned at the deep divisions in our society. At the same time, I am more than ever convinced the way to healing is through compassionate love. Hope is based on words, not guns.

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  1. Kerry Walters says:

    Thanks for this. All of us have become painfully aware over the past few years about how awfully toxic words can be. It’s good to be reminded that words can also heal and build. Just what I needed to hear this morning.

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