Walking Our Faith: What happens when we can no longer trust what we see?
Walking Our Faith
Look at the face of the other … Discover that he has a soul, a history and a life, that he is a person and that God Loves this person. — Benedict XVI
Last Saturday we experienced something similar to the phenomenon that happened when the internet exploded trying to decide whether a dress was white and gold or blue and black. Unfortunately, in this case the vehement disagreements which broke out over diametrically opposed views of one incident involved people, not a photograph.
The first videos showed a high school boy wearing a MAGA hat staring down a Native American elder who was chanting while beating a ceremonial drum. Immediately the internet went wild and sided against the large group of young men and what appeared to be a solo elderly man.
Within 24 hours a longer video was discovered which seemed to show exactly the opposite perspective: that there was a third group of black men men who were preaching their religious beliefs one moment and the next taunting the group of high school-aged young men.
At this point, either the Native American elder stepped in to defuse the growing tension between the black men and the white high school students or the Native American stepped in to become part of the fracas.
What’s interesting is that all three groups were there for purposes that were much more important to them. The high school students were there to participate in the March for Life, where over 650,000 people marched in Washington to express their religious-based beliefs on the sanctity of life from conception.
The Native American elder was there as part of the Indigenous Peoples March, protesting the injustices they face in their own country. And the black men were there to express their religious beliefs as members of a Black Israelite group.
Unfortunately, the greater faith-based intention of each of their visits to the Lincoln Mall that day were completely lost in the heated confrontation.
This week we heard interviews with the different principle holders, still defending their divergent views of the event. And it is quite likely that both the elder and young man truly believe they were holding the right position, that they were trying to defuse the growing tension.
But if our camera lens suddenly became a drone or better yet a bird and zoomed out to 100 feet above where the faces of the people and their identifying clothing could no longer be seen, what we would see is a scene born of fear.
From chaos and confusion rises fear and from fear rises anger and the need to defend one’s position so ardently we lose the ability to see the perspective of the other person. What happens when we can no longer trust what we see?
I read the Psalms at night before going upstairs to bed. It has become my favorite way to end the day. I am drawn to the Psalms because they feel so human. We hear lamentations of despair, entreaties for God to defend us against our enemies, confident trust in God one moment and doubt in his timing in the next. In other words, the Psalms reflect our daily lives.
Might these verses from the Psalms reflect what each group was feeling that day?
“Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me … Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain to the place where you dwell. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.” (Psalm 43:5)
One week after the event in Washington, D.C., I doubt anyone knows what really happened because we will never know the intention within the hearts of those involved. Does this mean we can no longer trust what our eyes see?
The original intent of all three groups of men on the Lincoln Mall that day was to express their faith in God, as they know him. Instead, their very human anger and fear caused them to act in ways which took them far from God.
What happened to them, happened to the Psalmist, and happens to us. When we no longer trust what we see, we know we are no longer looking at God. When we no longer see through the eyes of God’s love for us, we no longer see God in one another. What are we to do when we are blinded by fear and have lost our ability to love?
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit … he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40: 1-3)
Suzanne Anderson lives in Breckenridge. Her books can be found at Next Page Books and Nosh on Main Street in Frisco.
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