Ironically, the reading from today is from Matthew who exhorts us to “love our enemies” with the logical argument that loving those who love you is easy. Where it gets hard is loving those who profess to not love you, e.g. enemies. In my ESL language class Friday we studied English idioms and what they mean. One idiom was “killing with kindness” which on it’s face value sounds contradictory. Through our discussion we discovered that force met with force or hate met with hate only emboldens the object of our hate and doesn’t always win them over. We have seen this play out time and time again from wars to school-yard bullies. “Killing” in this case doesn’t mean ending their life totally, no it means ending the other’s hatred and winning their kindness. I like to believe that this works with everyone, but alas, it doesn’t. I guess I subscribe to that “hopey-changey” thing that the half-governor from Alaska used to talk about. But this doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try this approach first. Of course it helps to understand the “other” so you can try the kindness approach.
As the reading from Matthew states:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5)
Then we have Mr. Limbaugh who this week said some awful things about a young Gerorgetown University woman. Limbaugh’s statements revealed more about Limbaugh than the woman he was name-calling. He loves controversy. It boosts his ratings. It fattens his bank account. It also opens him up to scrutiny. For some, they think of him as the enemy and he begins to take on the mantle of “them” in the phrase “us and them.” Since he is not us, he’s a “them.” He loves this. This objectification of the “other” makes it easier for intelligent people to dismiss him as inconsequential, as a non-person. He loves this even more. This approach has worked with Beck and Fox who objectify anyone who does not think as they do. Muslims for example, or the evil “liberals” (whatever they are).
No, Rush and his ilk deserve our pity not our anger. Pity because his ideas even about contraception are borne out of ignorance rather than basic human values, moral conviction or, dare I say it, education. He thinks that every time a woman has sex, she has to take the pill. If she has sex 1000 times a day she has to take 1000 pills. (by the way, do you know any Wonder Women like this?) My only suspicion is that he missed the sex-ed talk in Junior High. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Do you know how the “pill” works? Google it. If his argument was about insurance companies spending money for contraception, that would have been a discussion. It wasn’t. Even Bill O’Reilly has fallen into the Limbaugh way of thinking and I thought O’Reilly was smarter than that. Fooled again.
OK so how do you love a guy like Limbaugh. Does it mean you agree with him on his statements? No, of course not. Ignore him? That is closer. Bullies hate to be ignored. Criticize him? Probably, but anger over a long period of time actually gives the object of the anger much more power over us than it deserves. It controls us and saps our energy. Try praying for him. What?? Yes. It may not be as satisfying as attacking him, but it helps us separate us from the power that he has over our emotions. If every time I think of him and his statements I get angry, I have given him more power than he deserves. A better more pro-active approach is to call his sponsors to pull their money out of his show.
Sometimes it is hard to “kill with kindness” people who are so ignorant and so full of themselves that change seems impossible. No we are better than that. His words kill the spirit when taken to heart but understand this, he is an ignorant man who lives in his own head and thinks that his world is the only world. So just name-calling him is a Pyrrhic victory at best. In other words we win and we lose at the same time. I actually feel sorry for Rush and his “ditto heads.” If seeking education is snobbery as Rick Santorum suggests, then I guess I am a card-carrying snob. For Rush, there is no danger being labeled a snob. He is happy being ignorant.
and so it goes…