I’ve had a hard time writing this sermon because what has been on my mind this past week is really hard to explain. It’s about thinking things that make us uncomfortable – things that never occur to us, because they don’t fit our worldview. Thinking the unthinkable. As a long-time teacher, I know that we never learn anything new if we only stick to things we already know. Understanding that our own way of seeing the world is not the only way is hard. It is hard to understand that people who disagree with you are not your enemies, they are just people who see things differently
Not wrong; just different.
And, yes, sometimes wrong but that does not have to make them your enemy.
I’ve written in the past about the mythos: the underlying stories about ourselves that we never question. The mythos includes a whole lot of things that we take for granted. Our country is the best. People who break laws should be punished. Children should always obey their parents. God exists and loves us, or god doesn’t exist, and the whole thing is pointless.
The whole good versus evil thing.
Some things that used to seem rock solid are being questioned; things like gender, and with it, marriage. This upsets the people who are so determined to protect their mythos that they want to imprison or even kill people who don’t fit their worldview. That leads to thinking in black or white without any room for shades of gray. If you don’t like it here, leave! Back when I was a hippie, I heard that a lot. Where was I supposed to go?
The thing that really got me upset was something on Facebook. (I really should just stop going there.) It was a video clip about some idiot wearing a Nazi armband in Seattle. Well, this guy was clearly foolish for two reasons, the second was wearing the armband in Seattle, of all places. That really is just asking for trouble. Anyway, in the video, the Nazi got in an altercation with a guy who punched him in the jaw – knocked him right out.
I could easily sympathize with the puncher. Possibly he felt threatened or provoked. And although I don’t like violence, I can understand protecting yourself, even if the threat is not immediate. If you are black, or Hispanic, or, well, just about anybody, Nazis are a threat. But that isn’t what upset me. What upset me was how many people applauded the puncher and posted to say what a good thing the punch was.
Encouraging violence. Applauding violence. Getting turned on a little by violence.
Here is where I want you to think the unthinkable.
What if the guy was wearing a Bernie armband, instead of a Nazi one. What would your response be then?
I’m betting that if you tend toward the liberal, you would criticize the hitter, and you would not be alone.
What if neither of them was wearing any kind of political badge? What if it was just two guys having a fight about, I don’t know, say, soccer. Would you still praise the guy who knocked out the other team’s supporter?
What if they were arguing about Star Wars vs. Star Trek? Is that worth throwing a punch? How about which end of an egg to open – the big end or the little end? Should we go to war over that?
What if they are both wrong?
What if neither view is worth fighting for?
What if violence is never the answer. Ever?
What if patriotism is not the capstone of all virtue?
What if god really wants you to stop believing in her?
What if we really do have the power to change?
What if we don’t find violence a turn on?
What if insulting someone you disagree with is the last thing you think of?
What if you forgive people who hurt you?
What if we all give up our guns, including the police?
What if one person makes a difference?
What if it really is up to you to make things better?
What if we could tell the difference between what is “right” and what is needed?
What if punching someone in the face is not seen as legitimate political discourse?
What if we talk about things we have in common, instead of fighting about things that separate us?
What if we see that doing what we want might not get us what we need?
What if love really is the answer?
What if we think the unthinkable?
What if for just one day, no one anywhere acts like a dick?