I love the fact that one Greek word for “selfishness” is “idiotelia” or, “being an idiot.” Now, I understand that this focuses on the etymology of “id” as that primal, hunger driven part of the psyche that puts animal needs ahead of anything else. But there are so many ways in which selfishness is nothing BUT being an idiot. As we enter yet another surge of COVID-19, and deaths in the U.S. in 2021 topped those of 2020, I am flabbergasted at the kinds of responses people are making. I also marvel that anyone in this country would oppose vaccination at this point when those sickening and dying are overwhelmingly anti-vaxxers. Listening to our “political leaders” (an oxymoron?) spout absolute nonsense and as we close in on two years sound and solid science is still being rejected in favor of spurious and speculative conspiracy dreck. I have a theory.
At some point in the past decade, two parallel universes actually crashed into each other and reality was bifurcated. Politics became either/or. Church became either/or. Decency became either/or. Reason became either/or. And the two realities are struggling to make sense of one another. In one reality, a teenager with an illegal, immoral, unethical weapon kills people in a time and place where he has no business is held accountable and has to actually pay for the violent harm he caused. In the other reality, no one sees anything wrong with it and he is made a poster child for self-defense. In one reality, the legal system actually prefers “justice” to “legalism” and makes sure venue, judge, and jury are actually representative and inclusive. In the other reality, the outcome is already determined and there is no reason to do anything other than manipulate the legal processes to justify atrocities. In one reality it is considered poor taste to make jokes and mash-up cartoons about killing your colleagues. In the other reality, people defend virtual hate crimes as hilariously funny and the height of political dialogue. In one reality, people care more about the elderly, the young, the at risk, and the vulnerable than they do about having to wear a mask. In the other reality wearing a mask is a greater human rights violation than racism, sexism, child abuse, domestic abuse, and economic security and equity. In one reality, all people have value. In the other reality, people are chattel of different worth, and need to be judged for acceptability. One reality focuses on what really matters. The other reality focuses on what really anti-matters. Boom.
We are binarying ourselves into oblivion and polarizing ourselves to extinction. We no longer can engage in healthy ways about race, gender, ethnicity, poverty, education, taxes, healthcare, employment, environment (to name a few) because we preface everything in hate, contempt, derision, sarcasm, invective, assault (Communism/Socialism/Labelingism of every kind). And it makes me SO proud when self-proclaimed Christians are at the forefront. I do wonder if redemption is even possible anymore. I can’t help but think that God has much better things to do with their time than watch us be immature idioteliacs.
Could we pull a witness? Could we actually take intentional and directed time to plan to be more loving, giving, caring, patient, generous, kind, compassionate, forgiving, merciful, faithful, self-controlled, peacemaking, joy-inducing, comfort-offering, healing, listening — oh, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem that many people are interested in these things anymore. Not when we can be cruel, harsh, angry, spiteful, violent, and narrow-minded. It is so much easier to redefine Christianity to fit our weaknesses than it is to suck it up and do the hard work to be who God wants us to be.