Now That I’ve Got Your Attention

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Has anyone ever looked at you and said: “I can tell from the look on your face that you are…?” Invariably, they then affixed an emotion to your facial expression that was an accurate description of your response to your perception of reality. I guess at times, all of us have that kind of “the cat who swallowed the canary persona” where it is obvious what we are thinking or feeling.

 

Has anyone ever told you, “I’m not mad?” Yet, you had the sense that they were either purposefully not being truthful or they were in a complete state of denial. From your candid opinion, it was as plain as day. From all appearances, they were hotter than the fourth of July at Willie’s picnic? You could almost see the steam coming out of their ears.

 

As a rule of thumb, you can take what I think and add $1.25 to it and get a cup of coffee where I buy mine. That being said, it is my firm belief that anger is always a secondary emotion. A primary emotion is what is what is felt immediately before one senses … We might first feel afraid, assaulted, offended, victimized, forced, trapped, or pressured. We then camouflage the baseline emotion and come across as angry.

 

Typically, one of the primary emotions, like fear or sadness, can be found as the catalyst for anger.  Fear includes things like anxiety and worry. Please hear me say that I am treading on dangerous territory.   A little over two and a half years ago when I started my blog, I resolved that I would keep it reader friendly. Consequently, under no circumstances was I going to let my daily comments reflect any level of political candor.

 

For one thing, that is never a win/win scenario. If you want to come across as offensive, put political signs in your front yard, bumper stickers on your car and wear a lapel button announcing your candidate. Trust me, you will offend someone.

 

Actually when it comes to party affiliation, I’ve always kept my cards close to my chest. I guess I grew up with the belief that how one votes is private. The only time I’ve made an exception and openly announced the candidate for whom I was voting was in the Presidential election in 1972. From my perspective, the stakes were too high to remain silent. The Democratic Party’s nomination was eventually won by Senator George McGovern, who ran an anti-war campaign against incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon, but was handicapped by his outsider status as well as the scandal and subsequent firing of vice presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton.

 

My mother was so embarrassed that I was pro-McGovern. She cautioned me, “Don’t let your brother know that you support McGovern. He’d be humiliated by your stance”. At the time Ronnie was stationed in Thailand and flying combat missions over Vietnam. His circumstances and that of all the other military personnel was the primarily reason for my political stance. The war had to end. I remember subsequently listening to Sen. McGovern’s concession speech with tears streaming down my face. From my perspective, too much was held in the balance. He was my candidate because for too many years Washington irresponsibly mishandled the Vietnam conflict. The soldiers on the ground and the men in the air sacrificially and patriotically did their part.

 

From that election until now, I’ve never been verbal about my political candidate.   When people ask whom I’m voting for, my standard response is always, “Only God knows.” My only comment regarding this year’s election is that once again, too much hangs in the balance. We’ve got to get it right.

 

Yesterday morning when I posted my blog on Facebook, I noticed that a Facebook friend had suggested though a posting that he might opt to sit this year’s election out. The very first rattle out of the box, he got a response from a high profile friend suggesting a candidate for his consideration. The friend offering the suggestion crafted his recommendation by the disclaimer that his candidate wasn’t perfect, but was the better of two choices.

 

I had the thought that the tug-of-war that potentially was soon to take place over the posting would be couched under the auspices of kindness and respect, but that the potential existed that it was not going to be a win/win scenario. I knew by reputation the two primary players who had put their cards on the table, but I anticipated before the end of the day that there would be many others. While none of that back-and-forth banter I read yesterday morning reflected a lack of civility, it certainly provided a platform that could be misused.

 

Frankly, I’ve been surprised by the lack of kindness (no that’s too soft a word); I’ve been surprised by the lack of civility and respect that surfaces through social media. The thing that surprises me most is that too often it is generated by Christian people and it comes across as being angry and judgmental. It is almost like when it comes to politics, we take a no holds barred posture and allow Satan a foothold in how we express ourselves.

 

I like the way Darren Spoo, pastor of First Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma expresses it: “Anger is not a sin, but it opens the door to a lot of other sins. In fact, you can take the letter ‘D’ and drop it down into Anger and you have Danger. That is good to remember. Anger if we don’t control it can become very dangerous and here’s why: Anger is an avenue by which Satan can access any part of your life. He can access your family. He can access your workplace. He can access your relationship with your kids. In any area, he can access it through anger. So we must be careful”.

 

Anger is neither right nor wrong. It is an emotion that is generally triggered by a primary emotion like fear or sadness. Everyone experiences anger at different times and to varying degrees. It’s simply part of the human experience. Feelings of anger can arise in many different contexts. Think back to the last time you were mad and you’ll figure out what triggered the experience. I’ve know people who if they didn’t get their way, they got mad. I’ve also known people who predictably were always even tempered. They seemingly were always mad.

 

I would say that you wouldn’t believe the demeaning and vile things that are shared by Christians under the auspices of political conviction. It obviously doesn’t serve us favorably. When God is not glorified by our behavior or posture, we’ve made a critical error and haven’t followed His lead by knowing whose we are.

 

I did see one other posting on Facebook yesterday morning that resonated with my spirit. It said simply:

“I’m thinking this Sunday morning of the coarseness that has overtaken this society. I wish for us all to act more like Jesus — healing the hurting through divine/human touch and confronting evil (mostly by the rich and religious) in a way that was always rooted in love for neighbor, especially for those in need.”

 

When it comes to politics, James offers wise counsel: “We must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

 

All My Best!

Don

 

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