Like most of you, I’ve been greatly disturbed and saddened by the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. I’m confused by the lack of security and dismayed by the behavior of the rioters. I’ve felt as I did when hooligans desecrated the sanctuary of my home church or when midnight vandals broke into my middle school, leaving it damaged and defaced. Seeing the Capitol’s windows broken by lawbreakers who then climbed through them to run roughshod through this historic building made me feel physically ill. I shivered, recalling my visits there as a child, as a teen, as a young mother—each memory laced with quiet respect for the hallowed halls we walked.
Being a Rule Follower
Full disclosure: I have no idea how it must feel to be compelled to invade the US Capitol. I truly cannot imagine drawing that conclusion for myself, no matter what. But then, I am basically a rule-follower. If there is a rule I do not like, I believe I should follow it–pending the most extreme of circumstances–even as I work to change said rule.
I realize that I’m privileged in making this claim. I’ve never been faced with rules that required me to sacrifice my integrity, identity, or intrinsic values. Never.
If there is a rule that I know about, I aim to follow it. Example: I rarely step in a crosswalk when the light tells me to wait. When the walk icon flashes on, that’s when I move forward. Why? Because that’s the rule and I assume that someone smarter than I made this rule so I should abide by it.
Being an Enneagram 9
Also, if you know the enneagram, it’s informative to know I’m (surprise surprise) a Nine. Nines like to keep the peace, not hightail it into a crosswalk whenever we take the notion. Walt Disney was a nine. And so was Mr. Rogers. And Abraham Lincoln. And Lisa Kudrow (#girlcrush). But then, (supposedly) Homer and Marge Simpson are also nines, so there’s that. Anyway, can you picture Disney scaling the Capitol walls? Mr. Rogers? No? Okay, well that’s how far outside my frame of reference this kind of behavior is.
Naturally, then, I’m tempted to expend a lot of energy talking about how bad it is that others have carried out an attack on the US Capitol. I’d like to spout off in outrage and indignation with, “How could they?!” and “What is wrong with them?” and “They are the worst!” I mean, why would I want to consider ways I may be complicit in creating a system that gives birth to such ideology when I can climb up in my self-righteous sycamore tree and look down on the offenders? I could just say that my reason for gaining this perch is so I can better proclaim Christ’s ideals of justice and mercy. “Hey! Look at this unChristlike behavior! Whatever happened to WWJD?”
Being Self Aware
Don’t misunderstand me here: we should all denounce the criminal activities we saw in Washington. But once we’ve stated our disapproval, shouldn’t we at least consider ways we have may have contributed to the systemic problems that created this mess? Shouldn’t we ask ourselves,
- Have I loved as Jesus loved?
- Have I loved my neighbors—my politically, religiously, ethnically different neighbors—as Jesus would have me to love them?
- Have I listened or dismissed?
- Have I sought to understand or have I been too busy trying to be understood?
- Have I turned the other cheek—or at least resisted the urge to share contentious emails or tweets?
I don’t know about you, but when I respond even to these few questions, I realize I have enough work to do in my own self to keep me busy for life.
Certainly, it’s more instantly satisfying to extol the crimes of the other. But, I think Jesus has made it pretty clear that our task is not to squint around the logs in our own eyes so we can point out the splinters in someone else’s. Our calling is to live and love in the way Christ did. That’s how we build the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven: by following the will and way of Christ. It’s harder, for sure. and there’s nothing instant about it. But hey! The benefits? Out of this world!