Be a good neighbor'
Are you stressed out?The news says you should be.Everyone disagrees with everyone.It seems for every fact sheet there is an opposite fact sheet.
Social media helps guide partisan individuals into finding like-minded partisan groups, so that together one group can harass another group.
Where do all these "facts" come from?A lot of "facts" spoken by what I have otherwise thought to be very smart people do not sound logical or smart.
How is it that an often used tactic of some is to insistently and loudly talk over their opponent? This is not communication.
How can this still be called "speech and debate?" The world seems angry.Is it also crazy?
My family recently went on vacation to a relatively remote cabin in a rather rural area.For the best part of a week we had no computer, limited cell reception, and we mostly did not turn on the available television.Ahhh, this was peace.
I'm old enough that unplugging did not immediately induce a state of anxiety. Instead, we spent our time hiking and canoeing nature's quieting vistas, eating mostly home cooked meals back at the cabin.
My single concession to our crazy world was to read a small pile of back issue news magazines.
I read a March 6 Time Magazine article by Lisa Abend-Vilnius. Her article can also be found on the internet, and is about Lithuanian Elves, now numbering into the thousands.
I've tended to like elves even before I watched the movie, "Elf."But these "Lithuanian elves" are certainly different from Elf.
These elves are bright, thoughtful persons from many walks of life who volunteer their free time and computer skills to take down dangerous false internet intrusions, known as trolls and trolling, that widely and intentionally insert disinformation into societies.
The article notes that much of the same trolling from the same sources is also operative in American society.Someone famously said, "The devil is in the details."
Could it be that "facts" we are passionately shouting and dividing amongst friends are part of an evil insidious foreign plot? Indications are yes.
Are we so nave?Are there volunteer armies of American elves yet?The keyboard can be a noble defensive weapon of choice.
There is a hero who fights the devil's trolling, striving to free us from contentious divisions of false accusations, and ultimately to save us from our own missteps.
A guy spoke up and challenged him by asking the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
It's the same as asking for true freedom.Our heroic teacher responded by asking him what had the man learned from his studies.The challenger responded that to gain eternal life one must love God, and also love one's neighbor, but then asked, so "who is my neighbor?"
Our savior responded by telling a story about a man who gravely needed help, lying in the road, barely conscious.There were three passersby but only the third stopped; the third not only rendered first aid but transported and cared for him for days.
Since there was no insurance, this was willingly at his own personal expense.
Now which of these is the neighbor?The challenger meekly replied, "The one who showed mercy on him."Jesus then said, "Go and do likewise (Luke 10:25-37).
When I've heard this story I always heard emphasized the question of who was the good neighbor. Reading it again, I learn now that it is especially about what allows us the opportunity to gain eternal life.
It is God's love. God's love in this story is a profound experience of mercy, even for a stranger.This is huge.
It's about how you allow God's love to flow through you into one whom you might never otherwise have met. It's about the man lying in the road half or more dead, rescued to the fullness of life by a God friend. Hmm, someone was lying in the road in need of a God friend.
On July 9, I was at the Farmer's Market on Main Street standing in front of Bill and Pat Young's table of beautiful fresh cut flowers and veggies, when someone suddenly scurried along the tents seeking someone with a medical background.
A second person was already dialing 911; a third was already clearing a lane for the soon to arrive emergency vehicles, and a fourth and more were at the side of one who had fainted.
There may be unwitting scions of the devil's ways about us, but Clarion also has so many Good Samaritans.We do care for our neighbors, who might even be strangers.
So, perhaps be an elf in rescue of societies.But certainly also be a student, a disciple of whom some have called master, some have called teacher, some have called Jesus, some have called, Son of God.
Be among those who have been called good Samaritans and good Clarionites.You should love God andlove neighbors all of them.
Live today so you can have life eternal to have true freedom to put aside confusions of the devil to know peace.Be blessed, even while you bless.
Rev. John E. Flower, Jr., pastor of First United Methodist Church of Clarion.