It would be easy to react to last week’s attempted insurrection with righteous anger. I don’t think that’s enough, though. Part of being an older adult is to learn from what occurs around me and inside me. It’s necessary for me to build on and use whatever wisdom might come from reflecting more deeply. Some examples….
I saw people holding onto identities made from muddy lies. Because lie-constructed edifices eventually collapse under reality’s weight, these men and women will eventually be left with nothing but metaphoric dirt and water. So, too, I must also re-examine any of the ways in which I construct dams, barriers, bunkers or safe houses out of lies. Reality will surely punish me if I don/t engage in that kind of self-examination.
Some of the rioters were trying to show their power, their self-images riddled with feelings of disregard and/or powerlessness. What better way to garner attention than by acting in a fearsome manner. Weapons, costumes, facial expressions, loud insults—all seemingly effective ways of attracting and holding others’ attention. Here, too, a lesson: It’s necessary for me to admit how much I crave the attention of others, at times using subtle, uncaring tactics to appear fearsome.
These days have called out again for practicing empathy during these troubling times. It’s a stretch, I know. Still, something inside these insurrectionists compelled them to think and act this way. I can be more helpful—perhaps not yet loving—if I can see past their actions into their self-images, their sense of lifework or even their spiritual values.
I’m a follower of Jesus, so I hope there’s Gospel-proclamation in how I live. That’s why I need to keep learning from the tribulations that swirl around me right now.