Even though I made a conscious decision to stop watching the national news some time ago, there are some stories you just can’t get away from. It’s hard to silence the sounds of people fighting each other no matter how hard you try to overlook it.
Ferguson, the Middle East, the political and social climate across our nation…as my friend Mark Ford mentioned in a previous post, we have worked really hard to be as divided from one another as possible. It seems as though we make everything a point of contention that eventually leads to a maddening cycle of endless conflict, kind of like Stephen King’s “Needful Things” on a global scale.
King’s novel tells the story of a charming old man, Leland Gaunt, who opens a shop, “Needful Things,” in the town of Castle Rock, Maine. He sells items that seem to be perfectly suited to their buyer, but there’s a catch. The shop owner expects each person who buys something to play a prank on someone else. You see, he’s aware of the divisions and petty disagreements the people of Castle Rock have with each other. The “pranks” Gaunt encourages are the means by which he influences the town toward a downward spiral of division and violence. Sound familiar? He eventually leaves Castle Rock and moves on to the next town where he continues his work with a new shop, “Answered Prayers.”
There is an inexplicable meanness about how we treat one another. From individual interactions to exchanges between nations, there is disdain, indifference, bitterness and downright contempt that characterize our interactions with one another. This is not the way it’s supposed to be.
Somewhere along the way we’ve allowed Leland Gaunt to weasel into every level of society. In our families, friends, churches, places of business, and our governments he works to set us against one another, sit back, and watch the world self-destruct. Like “Needful Things” so much of the hostility begins when one person believes another person to be beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn. No one…let me say again no one…is beneath the consideration of another.
Every time one person disregards another or acts deliberately to exclude someone from basic human decency or determines it is the right course of action to spurn another, the seed for the kinds of conflicts we see in the world is planted. Think about it. Every battle is traced to a sentiment that begins with one person. It might get complicated by social issues or politics, but it begins with an attitude of the heart that justifies standing against another. Again I say, this is not the way it’s supposed to be.
We were not meant to fight against each other, but to fight for each other.