The thoughts behind this visit with you have been rumbling around in my brain for nearly two weeks. A recent sermon by Scott Brown, our senior pastor at the Colts Neck Reformed Church, sent my thinking machine into overdrive. My mind was filled to overflowing with all sorts of thoughts about verbally smacking this person or that person.
There are those abroad in our nation I could easily have accused of lying to us. There are those who could have been accused of diverting resources away from our fire service, while telling us how much they loved us all. Many are the people in the world around us who, I felt, deserved to be tarred and feathered. Perhaps the feeling which I experienced during this time did not belong in the House of the Lord, but there they were.
Fortunately for me, there was a little voice whispering in the background about the need to temper my rage with reason. You might well call that still, small voice the Voice of Reason. Do not get me wrong. Luckily for me I tempered my rage and my thoughts. Many of the angry thoughts which came from the sermon on March 21 were answered by the calming thoughts which emerged from Reverend Brown's Palm Sunday sermon on March 28.
The people that I had intended to skewer richly deserved my rage, but I reasoned that short-term good feelings on my part may well have been overshadowed by a long-term aura of ill will and negativity. Scott's Palm Sunday sermon was entitled, "Who Are You Following?" Now for those of us in church at that moment, the answer was quite simple and obvious. We are following our Lord and Savior.
However, is this answer one which is widely understood in society today? Given the attacks on organized religion, one can only pause and ponder. Perhaps a simple rule could be developed which might allow us to better interact with our fellow travelers here on this crowded, blue marble we call earth. A simple thought which could guide our actions.
Try this one on for size. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Hmm, that seems like a winner to me. Yes my friends, it is the good old Golden Rule. If you truly espouse the belief that you are following our Lord, than acting according to the dictates of this axiom is just what you should do.
You must understand that not everyone in society operates according to your personal code of ethics. Unfortunately, there are many among us who operate according the dictates of a different rule: The Rule of Gold. Their "Golden Rule" is a bit different. These are the people for whom all streets run but one way: toward them. "Do as I say, not as I do" is the mantra which they chant each day.
Not everyone wants to treat people well. These are the folks who treat other people like crap and then expect those people to bow down to them and love them. It is my guess that this is just the way it is when you are dealing with politicians, public people, and their countless hangers on. You cannot always give voice to your innermost feelings because of the damage which your words might inflict upon other people. These people have memories which are so long that they get cell phone calls from elephants asking for memory advice. It was this thought which guided my actions over the past week or so.
This is an action which some selfish people never seem to truly understand. These are the people who would feel justified in yelling the word "fire" in a crowded public assembly. You know the type. They operate according to the following mantra: "You can't tell me what to do." These people hoot, holler, and harp until they run out of air in their lungs or are beaten to a pulp by people who do not agree with their views.
Thankfully my bad impulses were outweighed by my good instincts. Perhaps I would have felt better about accusing a number of people of being the modern incarnation of Judas Iscariot: Maybe not. Unfortunately, more bad feelings than good might have been the result of my verbal attacks. Let me break with tradition and say that while the truth might set you free, it also might allow you to get your butt kicked by a large, angry mob.