A couple weeks ago a friend posted on Facebook; “We were talking to our granddaughters about the Golden Rule, then I saw clearly the problem. In this world we live in this is not so much how we live anymore. I see everyone saying they offended them but they don’t see that they are doing the same. We all should treat others like we want to be treated. This means even if we don’t agree on the issue. Love and respect goes a long way”.
No one can deny we live in a time when offense runs rampant. Making matters worse, when issues rise to the top and people choose sides we quickly discover lines drawn in the sand with fingers pointing and angered voices rising to a scream. We have, what I sometimes refer to as, “screamers on the left and screamers on the right”. Don’t take me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be passionate for what we believe in and vocal about our beliefs. However, more often than not we discover passion overflowing into anger simply because we have a different point of view on a given topic.
A number of years ago I found myself as Pastor in a church where many in the congregation – especially the leaders – were walking wounded carrying baggage and offenses from what an earlier Pastor did while he was there. By the time I arrived the Pastor had been gone for a number of years and I was actually the second or third Pastor to arrive on the scene since the split. Yes, I will call it a split as one of the main issues revolved around a church plant from this particular church where the Pastor spent most of his time. The main church became offended and felt left out since the Pastor seemed more interested in the church plant than the one he was appointed to. Many people couldn’t even remember why they were offended. In other words, the offense was long forgotten, but the sting of the offense remained. How do we navigate through such situations? It’s important to address the hurt, while at the same time discovering how to move beyond the offense. You see, offense creates barriers. Barriers in turn create hurt feelings and those hurt feelings many times result in emotional outbreaks of screaming and yelling.
The Golden Rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. A phrase I learned growing up as a kid. The opposite is also true. If you treat someone poorly, chances are you will be on the receiving end of some sort of unkind treatment. Looking out my window today I’m reminded of a time when a woman fell as she crossed the street. A group of students from the high school rushed to her assistance and brought her inside the radio station. Tending her scraped arms we called 9-1-1 for further assistance. Sitting here in the radio station the woman asked, “Why are you helping me? I’m usually ignored by those around me”. Quietly smiling we responded saying, “We are here to encourage you and others as they come by”. “But don’t you have work to do?” asked the woman. “Indeed we do” we told her, “but right now our job is to make sure you’re okay”.
We walk by hurting and many times offended people every day. It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of offense as well. However, it’s much better to be encouragers than dissenters and screamers. The Golden Rule is a great saying. However I like to find my moral compass from another source where a man named Peter wrote “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness, kindness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Looking Out My Window is a regular column in the Northumberland Today newspaper located in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.