Jim Beam Column: Remember What Jesus Said – American Press
Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection today, but it comes at a time when many of them have seemingly forgotten what Jesus said were the greatest commandments.
When questioned by the Pharisees, he said “Love the Lord your God” was the greatest commandment and the second most important was “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.
The Reverend Dr. John Robert Black, my pastor at St. Luke-Simpson United Methodist Church, during a Maundy Thursday devotional, emphasized the importance of this second commandment for Christians all year round, not just on special occasions.
Jesus said to his disciples after washing their feet: “And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, you must love each other.
It’s not easy, of course, to love those who have offended you in some way. You may view others as your enemies – I’ve done a few in my long career in the press – and loving them is certainly not easy either. However, that is what Christians are supposed to do.
I recently ran into someone I had criticized a few years ago in Sam’s parking lot, and he was extremely nice. He initiated the welcome and it was a heartwarming experience for both of us.
I was glad he didn’t hold a grudge for a long time, but he may be an exception in the times we live in.
“Why people act so weird” is the title of a March 30 article by Olga Khazan in The Atlantic. She calls actor Will Smith’s slap on comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars “the most obvious recent weirdness”.
Khazan said a man was arrested in Atlanta after punching a gate agent at the airport. The gate agent was about to punch him back, but a co-worker stood on chairs and said “no” to the whole situation.
The coronavirus pandemic is to blame for much of what Khazan calls “disorderly, rude and disorderly conduct”. She said bad behavior of all kinds – from rudeness and neglect to physical abuse – has increased.
“Americans are driving more recklessly, crashing their cars and killing pedestrians at a higher rate,” Khazan said. “The start of 2021 saw the highest number of ‘unruly passenger’ incidents on record, according to the FAA.” Most of them are on mask mandates.
Missouri hospitals planned to equip nurses with panic buttons because health workers said their patients were behaving more violently. Khazan added that schools were also reporting an increase in “disruptive behavior”.
“In 2020, the murder rate in the United States increased by almost a third, the highest increase on record, and then increased again in 2021,” Khazan said. Car thefts are on the rise and carjackings are increasing in various cities, she said.
Khazan asked, “What the hell is going on?” How did Americans go from applauding healthcare workers to threatening to kill them? She got answers from more than a dozen experts.
A Stanford psychology professor told him that the pandemic had created many “high stress, low reward” situations and everyone was teetering a little closer to breaking point. He said someone may have lost a job, loved one or friend to the pandemic.
Another psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay said, “Americans don’t really like themselves very much right now.”
A business professor at Georgetown University says rudeness can be contagious and people who witness it are three times less likely to help someone else. She thinks people could pick up the rudeness from social media and pass it on.
People are drinking more, Khazan said, using more drugs and buying guns. Because of the pandemic, children stopped going to school, their parents stopped going to work, parishioners stopped going to church, and people stopped gathering.
The pandemic is loosening its grip, she said, but improvement may be slow. However, she said experts believe human interaction will eventually improve.
That’s because masks are coming off across most of the country, people are resuming normal gatherings and children are back in school. “The rules and rhythms that kept America running smoothly are falling back into place,” Khazan said.
Let’s hope she and the experts the writer consulted are right. In the meantime, it would help everyone remember that second most important commandment – “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.
On this Resurrection and Easter Sunday, we can also find great comfort in the words of this song by Bill Gaither: “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.