Recently I read a column in a Catholic publication that was about an important and controversial topic. Yet it was so full of invective and nasty ad hominem attacks that I had to stop reading it. The readers’ comments online were even worse. The depth of their rage and bitterness overwhelmed me. There was no discussion, no kindness, not even civility. Those who thought differently were blamed for all that ails the church. Their ideas were dismissed out of hand.
We see this kind of strident, polarized discourse everywhere these days. I dislike it because blaming others for our problems allows the blamers to feel pretty good about themselves, and that’s almost always a mistake. There’s plenty of blame to go around. No one is excused from it.
My friend Tom takes a “you spot it, you got it” approach to self-analysis: If something infuriates you, take a look at your own heart. He says, “I’m building quite a plank collection, finding them as I do in my eyes so often.”
I’m angry. I’ll try to take to heart these words of Thomas Merton.
Instead of loving what you think is peace, love other men and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmongers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed—but hate these things in yourself not in another.