In our society people are always trying to one up each other. When faced with an extreme opinion they counterbalance it with another extreme opinion, which leads to polarization, isolation, and a major disconnect between political and cultural groups.
For a few weeks there I couldn't turn on a media outlet without hearing about Rihanna getting beat up by her boyfriend Chris Brown. Talk about two spoiled individuals' sense of entitlement getting them into trouble; she does whatever she wants, he does whatever he wants, and inevitably things get ugly. She reacts immaturely, he reacts even more immaturely and much more cowardly, and everyone loses. Where are the cool headed celebrities? The mature ones? The ones like Bill Cosby who can laugh at the camera guy and crack jokes?
Sadly, maturity and class have gone completely unrewarded in our society... everyone wants to see grown people act like children. Everyone wants to witness a train wreck.
And how about the medias implications of that Rihanna vs. Chris Brown thing? After it happened I kept hearing that "it's never okay to hit a woman." I agree, but I also think its never okay to hit a man. Frankly, I don't think two people should hit each other. But what are we saying to our kids when we say, "it's never okay to hit a woman." Well, we're saying a few things. First, we're saying women are exempt from any physical consequences for their actions. Secondly, we're saying that men aren't. I agree, nobody should hit a woman, I think it takes a coward of a man to do so. A childish coward. I also think woman shouldn't have a license to around punching these childish cowards and provoking their insecurities. What a disaster that would be.
Everyone is just reacting. Every time something extreme happens, the opposite extreme seems to come out of the woodwork. Last year everyone hated Bush's capitalism, this year they hate Obama's socialism. We complain like children. We are weak and fickle. The majority of us have no examples of maturity to look up to. We have authority, we have leaders, but they are for the most part deeply narcissistic and immature at heart. So what are we left with, celebrities?
If you want to know what maturity is, read the Gospels of Jesus. Jesus' responses to the extreme accusations and entrapments of the "religious right" of the time were well thought out. He reacted with calmly stated pieces of wisdom. So much so, that many times his accusers went away with no rebuttal. He didn't escalate the fight. He didn't trade extreme for extreme. He reacted to their slander with logic, peaceful confidence and humility.
He reacted with maturity.
John 8: 3-11
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
May we learn to mimic some of that.