Two Dangerous Groups
I was talking to a group of fellow Christians the other day, and one of them said something that stuck with me. He is well-respected and is a member of the Justice System. He said, ” [Christians] are a hard bunch. You won’t get any sympathy from them.”
I thought about that for a moment and said, “Do you mean that they don’t care, or that they don’t have empathy for people in tough situations?”
He quickly responded, “Both.”
I wish I could say this surprised me. I wish I could say I this shocked me. I didn’t.
I used to be the kind of person who thought that since I obeyed the rules, had never been incapacitated, or without a job that everyone else should do the same…no matter what. I figured that if you were in trouble, then somehow you deserved it. I wish I could say that wasn’t true. I have no defense except that I was young, stupid, and had not yet come up against life.
I heard a fellow believer say a few months ago, “Well those people who draw off the government are the ones bankrupting this country. If those who could work, would work, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
I heard my son say just the other day, “What do you think about those people who are drawing off the government? Do you think it’s like they say? Do you think that people just don’t want to work?”
I looked at him and said, “Who’s they?”
His eyes grew wide, and he was thinking. He said, “They. You know – they.” He hesitated and then said, ” I guess I really don’t know.”
I said, “Be careful that you always consider the source. Always know who ‘they’ are because they may have an agenda you’re unaware of.”
I used to believe the talking heads on TV. I am ashamed to say that I listened to the radio hosts while working. Many of them spewed hatred at the those who are least able to defend themselves. Some of it was thinly veiled and some of it was blatant. All of it affected my thinking after a while. I came to believe what I was hearing without asking the right questions. “Who is this person? Why do they believe this? What actual facts to they have to back up that opinion? What’s the opposite argument because the truth is usually somewhere in the middle? Do they really believe this? Is it propaganda to distract me from the real political issues? Is it a device to blame the poor for my plight, or the government’s plight, or the state of the economy rather than placing responsibility where it belongs?”
I made the mistake of listening to ‘They” talk about ‘Those People’ without asking any questions about who ‘They’ and ‘Those People’ really are.
Today’s culture is no different really than cultures before it. A powerful group becomes ‘They’ and a defenseless group becomes ‘Those People’. Acting as an authority ‘They’ can say just about anything and not have to answer for it. While the poor, the sick, and the elderly become ‘Those People’ and are suddenly faceless, voiceless, and set apart from our culture as a whole. The group becomes the scapegoats of the powerful, and those of us in the middle tend to lean toward the powerful who have a voice – as opposed to the weak who are now just a label: ‘Those People’.
In conversation, and in life, we should abolish these phrases. As citizens we should pull back the masks of these titles and find out who the powerful people who make up ‘They’ really are and what their agendas might be. We should likewise remove the label of ‘Those People’ from the weak and get to know them before we judge them.
My son was talking about a member of his own family who had fallen on hard times and didn’t even know it. He’d heard the comment on some television talk show and repeated it as if it were fact. Even my son was wise enough to ask questions about whether or not it was a true statement. Far too many of us, including me, are guilty of not doing that.
Colossians 3:12-16 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Unless you become a label, you don’t really comprehend what that feels like. You are dismissed, unimportant, and forgotten. In addition, you then become the punching bag of those in power. You’re called lazy, a leech, a good for nothing – even in polite circles. It is, in a word, humiliating.
In this economy, you might be talking to someone who now falls into the category of ‘those people’ who didn’t five years ago…or even yesterday.
People get sick, they age, and they lose their jobs. They are still individuals with individual circumstances and children of God.
Here’s to turning away from the labels of ‘They’ and ‘Those People’ and getting back to taking responsibility for what we say and holding those responsible who actually spread opinions as facts. Here’s to caring for the individuals who are sick, poor, or elderly as instructed by God, and ditching the label of ‘Those People’.