Busted Halo
feature: politics & culture
October 10th, 2012

Stop Your Lyin’!

 
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I’ve been thinking a lot about anger lately — righteous anger; spilling-over-the-top you are such total crud anger; you don’t deserve to be called a member of the human race anger; and what do you have in your ears, elephant turds, anger.

The level of rage in our national discourse seems to have hit a new low, or high, depending on how you use your statistics. Name-calling seems to be the preferred method of campaigning and “discussion” — although we can’t really use that term, can we, because to “discuss” means to listen to, and I simply don’t see a lot of listening going on.

The thing that I find most dismaying about this pathetic level of discourse is that it is toxic to my mental health. I read The New York Times online every morning, preferably before my morning prayers, because after reading the news I need some serious trash-taking-out by the grace of God. I’ll read about the lies Romney is telling about Obama’s tweaking of welfare grants to the states. My blood pressure spikes. I drum my fingers on my keyboard, not a good idea, and mutter, “How can he say that? Doesn’t he have a conscience?”

In the college office where my husband works, there is a wonderful, funny African-American woman who will, at times in a conversation that is taking an unbelievable turn, say, “Stop your lyin’!” I’d like to say that to the offensively aggressive and self-righteous politicians, on both sides of the debate. Perhaps hiring a small airplane with a plastic banner streaming out behind would serve to alert the populace that we are tired of self-serving lies and tired of anger, which infects us all.

I read The New York Times online every morning, preferably before my morning prayers, because after reading the news I need some serious trash-taking-out by the grace of God.

And, of course, we don’t just find this in political discourse; check into any Catholic blog and you will find words being hurled about like stones, accusing people of not being “true Catholics,” or “faithful enough,” etc., etc. I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s depressing.

Do you think Jesus got depressed by all the bad news? Romans being bullies, children malnourished, epileptics unhealed, temple priests laying heavy burdens on the Jews? I can’t imagine Jesus being depressed. Angry, yes, and there is good evidence in the Gospels of his anger against people who perverted his Father’s word, about the misuse of the Temple, and more. But depression implies helplessness and powerlessness, and I don’t think that was part of Jesus’ core or his mission.

I suspect that what I have to do — to preserve my mental health — is to give it up to God: all of my anger, my dismay at what we have come to as a country, all of my righteous indignation at the lies being thrown about. Give it up to God. Lay it at the foot of the cross, as a priest friend used to tell me to do with my worries about my family. Let God take it up. She’s good at burdens.

So, the next time I actually think that a very small and localized tornado would be a good way of ridding the world of people who lie for political gain, I need to put my head down (possibly falling to my knees might help?), pray for forgiveness and say, “Honey, you take this on. You know what to do with the lies and the self-righteousness. I surely don’t.” Then, a few hearty amens, perhaps a cup of strong coffee and a piece of Belgian chocolate, and I’ll be good to go — to be an ambassador for God without the clanking weight of my own righteous anger.

 
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The Author : Annie Turner
Ann Turner is a passionate convert to the Catholic faith, who is also passionate about life in general, small dogs, food and wine, friends, nature, and the blessing that comes from just showing up and being a witness with other people. Follow Ann's faith journey & more at: itsthegodthing.blogspot.com. Ann is also the published author of over forty children's books. She loves to hear from her readers.
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  • Jane K

    Thanks Ann…I too worry about what our kids are learning from so much of what they hear and see in the media…this election cycle being just one of many things! I also worry that no matter who wins in this election- and clearly you and I will be canceling out one another’s votes-(there’s an LOL in that remark…not at all meant as a dig!) I worry as much about the aftermath of this bitter election…it seems as if our nation is more divided than ever- on so many levels…that is where our belief in Jesus’ teachings must guide our actions and words. May God bless you in your work. Jane K.

  • Jack D. Hofmockel

    AT: “Why can’t we all just get along” is, I think, a paraphrase of what Rodney King said after the officers accused of beating him were acquitted of the charges and the resulting rioting. I think it was paraphrased or parodied on SNL, In Living Color, and maybe some other programs.
    In general – oh, yeah – “righteous anger”? Just read the Psalms. And, yes, Jesus clearing the Temple of the money-changers, et al.
    I keep seeing commercials on The History Channel talking about the “election of 18-[something-or-other]” being “the dirtiest election in history”. I don’t think the writers have been paying attention to more recent/ the current campaigns. :-/

  • Ann Turner

    Of course you are right that I tipped my hand as a liberal Democrat, and you are right to remind us that exaggerations and lies are being told on BOTH sides of the fence, which I did try to say a bit further along in the article. I wish I could remember the movie or perhaps a skit where someone asks in bewilderment, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I just wish we had more courtesy in our dialogue across the spectrum. I can’t imagine what our kids are learning from the current level of angry discourse. Ack.

  • Barbara M

    I too am upset about the political atmosphere this election. Yes, I have my opinions, as well, as to who is the worst at telling lies. I also agree that we must turn our anger over to God, but with one caveat.

    Jesus was angry with the Pharisees in the temple, but He did something concrete. He drove them out. I believe we MUST do something concrete – as in studying the issues to be sure we know who is lying and who is merely respectfully pointing out an important negative quality about a candidate. Then – we must NOT VOTE for anyone who is blatantly lying and personally attacking their opponent. Action is what it will take to let them know that they will NOT WIN if they continue this type of behavior. We must drive them out as Jesus did, otherwise, if they do this and win, they will only do more and more at every future election.

  • Jane K

    oh and Hala…good advice. :-)

  • Jane K

    Thank you for commenting on my post.
    I struggle so much these days with politics…because I am angry at the state of affairs in our nation….but I try so hard to not let my anger get the best of me….and to let my deep faith help me focus on what matters. It’s hard not to get angry…but I know anger has no place of residence in a heart devoted to God. So I pray every day…to not dwell on it. Thanks everyone.

  • Hala

    There is such a thing as righteous anger. We cannot always sit on our anger. I believe god allows us to,use our anger sometimes to correct bad and evil behaviour. This is difficult to do,because we naturally love to respect other adults and treat them well but there comes a point where we have to stick our head above the parapet and let loose with our righteous anger . In fact if we believe in the salvation of souls it is our duty to confront evil behaviour. This requires courage but we must pray for discernment and the graces we need to carry out God’s will.

  • Regina Kraus

    Thank you, Jane K for expressing beautifully and kindly the reaction that I had in reading the beginning of Ann’s article. Well done…

  • Lorrie K

    Thank you Jane K for your comment. I could not express it any better than you did. Ann’s post had an edge that was hurtful to me as I might have a different way of viewing current events. I believe Jesus will be in the hearts of many this November. He loves us all.

  • Jane K

    Ann,
    Your advice is sound…not allowing ourselves to become lost in hatred or anger but instead turning to God…and asking Him to take it from us. Praying for those we feel such anger towards is certainly something that takes the sting out of the anger. You are also completely right that the level and tone of political discourse has become disgusting….
    The only criticism I would offer – constructive of course- is that you open your article with an assertion that Romney told some lie about Obama…. and tip your hand that you believe that Romney is a liar..and that you are probably not supporting him in the election. This is of course your right to do…but it cheapens your article…because it seems like you have to get that one dig in…before your reach the higher calling to be above mud slinging….and give your anger to God.
    As you scan the papers each day- and hopefully you read a diverse source of news that offer both the perspective of the left (The New York Times)…and the right.
    There are no shortages of falsehoods being purported by our government officials…the latest scandal centering on Libya- and how we virtually abandoned our Ambassador there and have a state department that openly lied and even covered up the circumstances surrounding our Ambassador’s death. Or how about the lies that are told about public funding for Abortion- something completely against our faith? Honesty has become something increasingly hard to find in Washington..,
    I digress.

    My point is you make such a wonderful point about what we truly need to focus on – and that is God….Let Him lead us…guide our consciences…and help us heal as a nation….Let Him help us to be truthful in this life…and faithful to Jesus’ teachings.

    Thanks for writing. May God bless you always.

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