It’s been an interesting few years. The world around us is a divided one, with opinions across the spectrum. Oh, wait, the world has always been thus. My Aunt Fanny and my father used to debate the merits of Lyndon Johnson every time we were together. My Aunt Fanny used to always say, “Well, just remember the Milk Fund scandal”. I don’t think any of you remember the milk fund scandal, and I myself think its a pretty lame controversy. So, we’ve always chosen sides, and had differing opinions from others in our world. Politics, and current events seem to be ready targets for the conflicts between us.
But I have noticed the entry of something new in these conversations, the MMSS comes to visit (My Mean Spirited Self). Instead of respecting other points of view, and either backing out of the conversation, or politely “begging to differ” by presenting our own thoughts and positions rationally, the gloves seem to be off! (Yes, really off – I see some knight in an old movie, removing his leather gloves, and throwing them down in these heated moments). I am okay with spirited disagreement, but I am not so fond of the arrival of the MMSS – My Mean Spirited Self.
When the MMSS arrives, she seems to purse her mouth, and mutter things like, “that dummy” or “what a looney tunes” as I ponder a person’s opinion that disagrees with mine. Sometimes, if the encounter is on facebook, particularly, I toy with writing a testy response and ‘putting that person in their place’. Well, gee, how small am I, or how fragile my perspective that it must be defended with snotty comebacks or virulent tirades? I am not fond of MMSS.
Can I make just one more point today? The MMSS is my own. the first initial is “MY”, because if you and I begin to drift into calling out other people’s mean spirited self, we are walking through the muck of categorizing our neighbors and friends choices. And, you know, that’s just not ok.
There is a place to go for a background on this concept and the plan to avoide one’s own MMSS. It’s Martin Luther, and his small catechism. The 8th Commandment is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” and kindly Luther included an explanation –What does this mean? We should fear and love God, so that we do not lie about, betray or slander our neighbor, but excuse him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.
Okay, Put the best construction on everything. That’s the plan. If your neighbor is in error, my friends, I believe we must bring that to their attention. If, however, they simply disagree with our own position, Luther’s description applies. Excuse them, speak well of them, and put the best construction on everything.
Whew. Better get to work on that myself today, friends. God bless you