The bald eagle has long been a symbol of our nation. This painting is a symbol of how our nation is feeling right now.
There is a lot of anger.
We are angry at the injustice that has gone on too long.
We are angry at people who don’t seem to understand our point of view.
We are angry at the unproductive violence and destructive looting taking place in our communities.
We are angry at our leaders and the media and this damn virus.
First of all, let me say this: It’s ok to be angry.
I am all for being optimistic and positive thinking. But life is meant to be lived and it’s meant to be felt. Sometimes the feelings are joy and elation, sometimes they are disappointment and grief, but they are all a part of being truly alive. Putting on a happy face to mask some sadness is not all that different from using food or drugs or alcohol to numb some deep pain. The problem is that those feelings never really go away, and in many cases, they bubble up later with devastating consequences.
Right now, we are angry and we are hurt.
People have been hurt by racism.
People have been hurt by poverty.
People have been hurt by political divisiveness.
People have been hurt by this pandemic: physically, financially, and emotionally.
Something Kim and I try to teach our kids and thus remind ourselves of is this: hurt people hurt people.
Moments like these always seem to call for a good inspirational quote.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” –Yoda
Truth comes in many forms, and sometimes it comes in the form of a diminutive green Jedi master. Fear really has been the source of all this, starting with a tiny virus that arrived uninvited.
We are afraid that we might lose our life, our livelihood, or someone we love.
We are afraid that what we have will be taken from us.
We are afraid that we or someone we love will suffer great injustice.
We have lost so much, and are afraid that we will lose even more.
And for decades, we have been slyly tricked by dishonest leaders and a dishonest media, drunk on power and ratings, to be afraid of the others, the ones who look different, vote different, and have different perspectives than us.
As Yoda warned, this fear leads to anger, which leads to hate, which has led to suffering.
Hurt people hurt people.
The way forward is not to keep hurting one another. That is not who we are. We are America. We are a melting pot of beautiful cultures and diverse perspectives unified under a banner of freedom and a spirit of courage, compassion, and cooperation.
We are not perfect, but deep down, we are good.
It’s okay to be angry. But may God give us the grace to transform it into a righteous anger that fuels ruthless, senseless acts of love.
That’s the prescription: do something recklessly generous in the next few days for someone who won’t see it coming. Something that goes against the narrative that’s been fed to us by our news media.
I leave you with one more quote, not from a Jedi master, but from another wise sage, an evangelist named John:
“There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.”– 1 John 4:18
If we banish our fear and commit to instigate small rebellions of love…it is inevitable that we will soar again.