On Being a Positive Male Role Model
Reflecting on my life in So Dad, What Makes a Man, I found circumstances have often helped me become a more mature Christian. Some lessons I embraced. But when I didn't get the hint, I often ran into more similar situations with the same lesson, until I did get it. For example, at one time near midlife, I had a long run of having men around me whom I criticized as being selfish, until I finally realized that I, too, am selfish.
I spent my first half of life trying to please my father, then college professors, military officers, and corporate managers, fueled by a lack of self-esteem. I tried to keep the peace and developed an aversion for rancor that might presage an unfavorable--displeased--opinion from others. Some said my demeanor could be described by why can't we all just get along?
These days, circumstances around me are squashing the remnants of people pleaser left in me. I'm not sure how long ago it started, but I am conscious of people in the political arena who not only believe their opinion is right, but also dismiss or criticize any person who does not agree with them. Politicians who refuse to talk about compromising their ideals, insisting all members of their group believe everything they believe. Such stances in both parties have created divisions in television networks, radio talk shows, and religious groups. Some voters buy into one party's economic stances but disagree with their social stances, or vice-versa. Division, division, division, even seeping into choice of products and services, driven by the political stance of a company's CEO.
To me as a spiritual director, who after my midlife transition has come to accept other people as they are, the pendulum has swung so far toward differences that commonalities no longer hold any sway. Political party affiliation seems the highest power, above national interests. That attack rhetoric now mutes Abraham Lincoln's government of the people, by the people and for the people. Ditto for Patrick Henry's united we stand, divided we fall and our nation's Pledge of Allegiance: One nation under God, indivisible. People label others as socialist or worse for placing importance on caring for the poor--a hallmark of Christian beliefs mentioned at least one- hundred-fourteen times in the Bible* (http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/poor.htm).
I haven't found comfort in taking one side to condemn those on the other side. I don't want to propagate the divisions. I believe we are all children of God, all of us. And God is a God of love. Then I remembered I used to say: hate the sin, not the sinner. But these days, a part of me wants to condemn people for personal attacks. Is it my old people-pleaser who is not loving the sinners? Why don't I stand up for what I believe and let them do the same?
Just in time for the elections.
* Article by Howard Culbertson : http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/