-ISMs . . . we most often identify an “-ism” as something negative, harmful, or downright evil to ME!
Over the years, I have heard “communism,” “socialism,” “terrorism,” “paganism,” and many other fear-filled “-isms” to identify what I must fight against to protect myself, my family, my country, my very existence. The fear drives me to ignore the simple fact that I only know what I have been told about these “BAD -isms”—I don’t really know what they are, I only know what I have been told they will do to harm me or that they will take something away from me!
And these, and many other “-isms” have been used to:
• “sell” me on political candidates (ignoring the politician’s flaws in exchange for protection from one of these “-isms”),
• “selling” me on supporting laws to “protect me” while giving a huge power increase to some others (ignoring the potential for abuse by them), and
• “selling” me on the idea that I must focus ONLY on protecting myself and that others will have to do the same for themselves (others are not MY problem, I only have to look out for me or my group).
It is SO easy to buy into this fear-filled rhetoric, to be so totally focused on protecting myself that I don’t see anything else, to find myself crossing a line that I can’t even see . . . my own standards, values held dear by my parents or grandparents or others that I respected in the past.
It seems simple to identify those older beliefs as “outdated” and “it was a different world” or “they didn’t really understand,” but that is just an attempt to defend what I want to believe, a human nature response.
Do I know what I believe and why or what my values are, or what I consider important enough to die for? Or do I just ride along on the wave of fear and bow to the latest “-ism” being put out as my “enemy”?
I remember when John Kennedy ran for President of the United States of America and the loudest talk was how electing a Catholic would bring the Pope to power in our country and our “Christian” nation would all become Catholics . . . we elected him and none of the feared things came about.
Today I am still “selling myself” when I listen to and repeat fear about some group that I really don’t even know and I give power over my life to those selling that fear in some false idea that it will bring me what I want . . . protection, promotion of my beliefs (shutting down those who don’t agree with me), or something else I see as a gain for me—I sell myself. Like Esau I trade for a bowl of porridge because I am hungry and that bowl gives me what I want. I never really stop to think about what I am trading . . . ME!
Values seem to be unpopular today and voicing a need to live by standards draws ridicule and often harsh, defensive remarks. The idea that “the ends justify the means” seems acceptable today and, I believe, has served to draw many away from the need to walk the “higher road” when others choose to wallow in the mud to get their way.
My hope is that
• each of us will examine ourselves to determine what we believe and why, that
• we will realize not one of us possesses the ONLY or all of the truth, that
• we will try to inform ourselves about other groups and what they believe not just accept the fear-filled misconceptions spread about them—did you know early Christians were accused of cannibalism (see the -ism?) because of the Lord’s Supper? that
• we will view an “-ism” as a call to do objective research not accepting “exposes” or “conspiracy theories” without checking multiple valid sources (not just copiers), that
• we will come to see that working together we can create a world united in pursuit of the “common good” for ALL without identifying “-isms” as a way to get me to “sell myself” to a fear-filled cause . . . do unto others as you would have them do unto you.