A current blurb in the news caught my eye today. A young and talented lady has quit Social Media because of the harassment she has received from people who did not like her performance in a movie franchise. StarWars actress Kelly Marie Tran has been hounded from the internet because of a few disgusting people who decided they did not like an Asian actor in a role in a science fiction movie.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches this:
2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."
I have been hard pressed to understand the mentality I see embraced by some who call themselves Christians. Whether it is rejoicing in a cancer diagnosis for someone they don't like in politics or hounding a young woman on the internet, it absolutely blows my mind that many of these same people will hold a copy of the Bible in their hand and declare themselves 'Saved' and, so, guaranteed a place in heaven. I am equally appalled by my fellow Catholics who will make jokes about women not being pretty enough to rape and then kneel at the Altar Rail at the Traditional Latin Mass, receiving Our Lord on the tongue and returning to their pew without any second thought. These same people will declare themselves Catholic, and apparently ignore this teaching from the Catechism:
1394 As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him:
Since Christ died for us out of love, when we celebrate the memorial of his death at the moment of sacrifice we ask that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We humbly pray that in the strength of this love by which Christ willed to die for us, we, by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, may be able to consider the world as crucified for us, and to be ourselves as crucified to the world. . . . Having received the gift of love, let us die to sin and live for God.
I do not expect people to be perfect. I'm not. I struggle with sin every day. I struggle with depression and anxiety, with anger and fear, with lack of discipline and lack of patience. I understand we all fall short of perfection and it is for this very reason I am grateful to BE Catholic. As I tell our little ones, being Catholic means I have a safe place to go with my struggle - The Confessional - and for that I am eternally grateful.
What I will never understand, however, it the outright hatred and venom that spews from people's mouths towards someone they disagree with politically or culturally and how they justify that behavior.
How do you even look at yourself in the mirror?
Perhaps our biggest problem today is that we have lost our sense of shame. Apparently we no longer care when we do something wrong. Shoot, some of us don't even acknowledge that there are wrong ways to behave. We have been so busy trying to bolster our 'self esteem' and, therefore, our egos that we have literally forgotten that we should be ashamed of ourselves when we do someone horrid. Instead we grab ahold of the latest way to justify our sins and we gleefully point at how much worse the other guy is as a way to be okay with being, well, jerks.
Why would we be surprised at Roseanne Barr or her attempt to pass a racist twitter rant off as something she did while drunk and on Ambien and, therefore, not her fault and not really her? Why would we vilify Jimmy Kimmel's call for compassion towards her? Why would we be surprised that Samantha Bee is told how wonderful she is by fellow artists for using a disgusting, foul name for a woman in the name of comedy? And tell me, please, how pointing out the bad stuff OTHER people have done is how we choose to justify this behavior?
I have been laughed at in the past when I have stated that I do not find the use of profanity indicative of much more that the user's inability to properly express themselves. I still believe this - and I believe it because I know that MY use of profanity stems from the frustration of the moment. If I revert to gutter talk, it is because I don't think anyone is hearing me OR I am so frustrated that I cannot come up with a better way to tell you how I am feeling. The fact that I fall short of my own ideal does not mean I do not believe in it; rather, it means I have to keep trying.
We all have to keep trying. Perhaps we need to remind people who are perpetrating these attacks that their behavior causes them to be regarded as, well, inferior. In other words, they fall short of the standard society deems as decent. They are, by their own behavior, objects of scorn until they turn themselves around and start walking back towards the light.
Think you are being funny and making people laugh when you joke about a Senator dying of brain cancer? Think again, bucko. You are not making people laugh with you. You are being laughed at - Why? Because the way you are speaking is the window you provide that allows us all to see your true self.
Think you are being hilarious when you call a Rape Survivor "unrape-able" because you think she is too ugly to be a victim of that violent crime? You are not hilarious. You are revealing yourself to be a man who has decided an honorable life is not for him.
Think calling the daughter of the President a c#&^ makes you a cutting edge artist? Hardly; look in the mirror - it reveals that you have no idea what decency demands from those who embrace it and shows your inability to be funny without being disgusting.
As a society, I believe we need to get back to shame. We need to remember that when we are speaking/typing/walking down the street we are presenting ourselves to the world. We need to recapture the standard of behavior that asks us to try harder, think before we speak (and type) and, most of all, to try and live the virtue of Charity in the manner Jesus Christ would like us to live it. I think we need to recoil from the behavior of the few and let them know that, while they have to right to Free Speech and the Right to express themselves, we have the right to shun their behavior. We will pray for them, and we will hope they return to a decent way of life but we do not like what they are doing and we do not accept it as 'the norm'.
Charity - Love - is what we have to be willing to use as the norm. We can hate the sin and love the sinner and it is okay for me to consider somethings sinful that you embrace - but you do not have the right to hound me as a bigot or a hater or anything else. We need to learn to disagree without being disagreeable....
Because while Faith and Hope are wonderful, it is Charity that is the greatest of all.
Let's try it.