The Rt. Rev. John Tarrant, Episcopal Bishop of South Dakota, wrote an interesting column in our church newsletter. I don’t “borrow” another’s ideas often, but he made such sense, so I’m sharing.
He wrote: “I don’t like reading the newspaper or listening to news anymore. There is so much dissatisfaction in the world. From the Middle East to the Far East; from the Americas to Europe, no one seems content. Now I know there must be many content individuals, but there seems to be a spirit of discontent that is overshadowing our world. Our government in Washington, D.C. seems to have received the negative spirit ten-fold. We are the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world, and yet our leaders act as if we have nothing. There is so little joy, so little satisfaction. Of course there are problems that need to be solved, but treating people with basic respect is the first step toward any solution.”
AMEN to that!
Fr. Tarrant is correct… discontent is found in just about every situation. He’s also right that a good dose of “respect pills” would be in order.
Fr. Tarrant’s column of course recommends using faith to overcome discontent, but much of what he writes could apply to people of any belief system.
“One of the reasons the church of the first century grew was because those on the outside world would see the small communities of the Christian faithful and say, ‘see how they love each other.’ Is that what people say when they look at us today? It is worth noting: they said, ‘see how they love each other,’ not ‘see how they agree with each other’.”
He’s correct. People seem at odds with one another for so many reasons, often for superficial reasons: their skin color; their “wrong” political beliefs; they’re old/young, fat/skinny, rich/poor, religious right/religious left, etc. It leads to discontent.
But the end result is, we’re ALL people. We all share this world. If we recognize our shared humanity, it might be a step in the right direction. Quit criticizing everyone who doesn’t quite conform to our belief system, and realize they still have a right to their beliefs.
An all-time favorite is the monologue from Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice.” Shakespeare wrote it centuries ago, but the truth remains: “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.”
He’s talking about respect. I wonder where the respect has gone regarding all those reasons.
Even “comedy” today isn’t funny anymore…there is such an undercurrent of unkindness, discontent, putting people down. There isn’t much “respect,” and I seldom laugh.
Bishop Tarrant suggests that this old world won’t get much better until people quit putting down other’s beliefs, attitudes and ideas. People may not always agree, but they should respect, and try to share the same turf with one another.
I’ve become so turned off about the “news of the day” that I will only skim it. I get so tired of the ongoing rhetoric that leads us nowhere. I’ve always said my dad “didn’t suffer fools gladly.” I’m my father’s daughter.
So, yes, Father Tarrant, I also have feelings of discontent, because I feel let down.
But his final paragraph leads to hope–away from pettiness and harboring of grudges and being unkind for stupid reasons. “Many challenges lie before us, but I am convinced that within each one of these challenges lies an opportunity. At times that opportunity might be for the world to simply look at us and say, ‘see how they love each other’.”
The season of our discontent