The article in the New York times headlined: “A Nation on Hold Wants to Speak to a Manager.” It accused us Americans as acting like children when we don’t get what we want. It went on to cite example after example of us Americans acting badly in public. You know the examples: airplane customers attacking flight attendants, people in line at grocery stores going on tantrums, road rage similar to an experience Pastor Madeline shared last Sunday. The examples of people turning their discontent into bad behavior are evident everywhere. As I write this, we are remembering the attack on the Capital building, a display of incivility like I have never experienced in my life.
What’s up?! The article’s headline calling us a “Nation on Hold” was insightful. I feel like life is on hold. We can’t fully embrace gathering together – masks or no masks, the infection rates of the pandemic put a certain pause in all of us. I love to travel and like to take groups with me. Well, that’s not happening. Even our plans for a delayed Christmas gathering with our family got cancelled. Sigh. Heavy sigh. You can relate I know.
That we want to “talk to a manager” was a cute way of describing the general discontent and more overt way we are reacting to the general malaise. Not unlike the Stages of Grief, we have moved from shock when the lockdowns happened, to anger as decisions about masks and vaccines came along, and well, we just seem to be cycling through all those emotions.
There is nothing wrong with emotions. We all have them, and ultimately they allow us to process the realities in front of us. But acting out of anger, displaying acts of rage, tantrums, and ultimately violence – well, that is wrong.
As children in Sunday School, caring adults taught us lessons like the Good Samaritan where the right thing to do is to put the interests of someone else first. We were indoctrinated in the “Golden Rule,” a lesson that is not called that in the Bible specifically, but we were taught that this one rule was the most important one: to love others as you love yourself. Over and over they showed us examples of Biblical characters who took their troubles to God in prayer, and then showed how God answered.
It was Robert Fulgrum who came up with the idea that “Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Well, I think everything we really need to know in terms of interacting in this pandemic world, we learned in Sunday School. Hopefully people like myself are reviewing those lessons from the pulpit, and we are all inviting others to learn, or remember, those lessons by coming to church. Maybe Luke 6:31 should be our banner verse this year. I think our country needs it—and it can start with us.
Remembering my teachers with gratitude,