Tag: outrage at politics

Will mere Civility be Enough?

Will mere Civility be Enough?

We elect and send our leaders to Washington to lead and govern on our behalf. I’m saddened however by the lack of constraint, professional discourse and basic courtesy expressed by our chosen leaders. Constant accusations of racism, ridiculous comparisons to Hitler and foul language of the worst kind are becoming the norm. Is this really who we want to be?

Free Speech has become “freedom to insult”. To hate. To Judge. It’s an excuse to slander one’s neighbor, whether truthful or not. To demonize others for political gain is increasingly common-place. But at what cost?

There’s an ever-increasing call for civility within our public discourse, and we’d be wise to adhere to such a call. Those from both sides of the isle are calling out their own for inappropriate calls to action and violence. President Trump should lead the way toward civility. However, if others fail to show respect for one another, that’s on them, not President Trump. Every adult is responsible for their own actions.

As our country waxes towards polarization, division and the politics of personal destruction, I’m reminded of the unifying words of Thomas Jefferson.


I wonder though, is the call to civility enough? Can someone show civility and still harbor animus, even hatred? Of course. Therefore, we need our leaders to do much more than be civil, we need them to actually get along, and to become friends. To find common ground, even when they disagree. They are colleagues for crying out loud. And they have important work to do. We need our leaders to grow up.

What if President Trump arranged to have dinner with Maxine Waters, for no other reason than to just honor her and her office, get to know her, hear her story and try and understand why she believes the ways she does? He doesn’t have to agree with her, and it may not change a thing, but what a powerful example that would be.

What if Nancy Pelosi invited Sarah Huckabee Sanders to lunch for the same reason. What if Chuck Schumer reached out to those across the isle in order to seek out genuine friendships, and in an honest attempt to work together. Not as opponents, but as colleagues.

What if other leaders from both parties took radical steps to form friendships with those who often oppose them, if not only to demonstrate that the person is always more important than one’s precious political ideals. And to maintain some kind of friendship amidst the political battle. This would not only set the right example for us watching at home, it just might calm things down to the point of getting more done.

If they did, civility might be more common in D.C. After all, it’s hard to despise someone when you’re having a meal with them and hearing their story, even if you disagree with them. When you see their humanity, discover both the victories and the pain that has shaped who they are. In the process, one may discover more common ground than previously thought. And they might foster more willingness to work together. We need this to occur in Washington. And I’m challenging our leaders to do just that.

Underneath the shell of every soul is a person with convictions, personal struggles and a desire to find the right path in this confusing and difficult life. We could do more to help each other in this regard. But it’s easier to dehumanize from a distance than to draw close and honor others as fellow Americans, fellow human beings. I pray this type of spirit comes back into our country, and in our public debate.

Two thousand years ago, a man showed up on the planet and commanded us to love one another, even our enemies. Maybe Jesus knew the misery we’d find ourselves in if we didn’t.

Preston Rentz


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Where’s the Outrage? Jesus Knows!

Where’s the Outrage? Jesus Knows!

I first heard the news as I arrived at work one Summer morning. One of our regular customers was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was in his thirties, a husband and father of three. In a moment he was gone from this world.

I worked at a tire shop in a small Texas town in the early 80’s. It was one of those towns where you knew everyone, including most of the customers that frequented our shop. But to be honest, Clark’s death meant little to me. I knew of many car and motorcycle accidents over the years and it was just another unfortunate incident. Sure, I knew who the guy was, we sold him tires and fixed his flats. But we hadn’t exactly shared a beer together. I was there to work and earn a paycheck. So, not a lot of empathy. At least until Mr. Benson walked in.

Apparently, Mr. Benson had just heard the news about Clark’s death upon arriving at our shop. He was noticeably upset. He deliberately paced back and forth in one of our open bays, staring at the floor and making statements out of sheer outrage. He passionately expressed thoughts like; “how could a father of three young children take a chance like that?”. “Those boys will need their father, what will they do now?”. “This was a senseless and unnecessary accident”. “I can’t believe he is dead”. On and on he raged without any attempt to conceal how he felt.

In my early twenties I was hard-hearted and lacking the sensitivities to take in the full tragedy. But his anger got my attention. And just how he so effectively expressed his outrage at the whole tragedy stunned me. He was really mad. It shook me up. I was not used to seeing such raw emotion wrapped up in passion like that.

I will always be grateful to Mr. Benson. I couldn’t see the gravity of Clark’s death without his outrage. Thanks to Mr. Benson, Clark’s death became a loss for me too, for all of us in the shop that day. We were now thinking of his family more and what that loss would mean to his wife and children. The story was now hitting us all on a personal level.

Remembering this story makes me wonder what has happened to healthy sense of outrage in America. An appropriate sense of anger. This world certainly doesn’t lack subject matter, there are plenty of issues to really mad about.

The Holy Word of God calls us to “Be angry, and do not sin.” In our culture however we have put the emphasis on the “do not sin” part while ignoring the “be angry” part. Not a psycho or murderous anger, but a righteous anger at a world that falls deeper into depravity.

Mr. Benson didn’t lash out at those around him. He didn’t lobby congress to outlaw motorcycles. He didn’t demonize everyone who would ride a motorcycle. He didn’t threaten to burn down a motorcycle dealership.  No, he just expressed his anger and didn’t hide it from those around him. That was his gift to all present that day. He made us contemplate the very weight of tragedy, and what that tragedy meant. Only outrage could have accomplished this.

Perhaps the law that allows abortion would be overturned if enough outrage were expressed. Though some has been expressed over the years, we mostly hear contrived moral arguments. Nothing wrong with that, it just doesn’t always pierce the heart.  I wonder how much would change if we had just one passionately indignant leader who could stir hearts along with good old-fashioned reasoning. Instead, religious, political and intellectual arguments are quietly, even stoically made.

If someone in our society expressed themselves with the level of anger and indignation that Jesus did with the money changers in the Temple of God, they might be put in a straight jacket. Or even the outrage Jesus expressed towards the religious leaders of his day.

Anger, even for the right reasons is simply not tolerated in our culture. And this may be the beginning or the impetus for the deepest form of apathy. Which alone may explain why so many of our seemingly insurmountable problems that plague this country never get addressed. Immigration comes to mind. The need to change the tax code. Our National debt, our trade deficit, etc. It seems that those who run our country only know how to argue and to entrench themselves in their own ideals, whether it actually helps the country or not. And usually not.

Maybe Congress would feel more compelled to find a way to make much-needed changes in our country if we the people could somehow channel our outrage appropriately, without violence or harm to neighbor. Because the moment we hurt others or destroy property, we have abandoned the Golden Rule. Even so, maybe they would just turn a deaf ear. Or just maybe they would finally feel compelled to work together and do something.

Anger is the one emotion that is so easily be abused, yet so much-needed. Especially in an increasingly apathetic society. But we would rather have passivity and niceness than effective indignation. Most don’t want to make waves. And somehow we’ve been convinced that we should conceal our stronger emotions.

No one in the tire shop that day questioned Mr. Benson’s anger, his words or his tirade. It was remarkably appropriate. Almost like poetry in the form of outrage. Beautifully displayed outrage. Much needed outrage.

What do you think? Do you believe harmless anger and indignation has a place in our society today?

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