Over 2,000 years ago, one of my favorite Greek Philosophers, Epictetus, stated that people are disturbed “Not by things, but by the views we take on them.” A thousand years later, Shakespeare, in Hamlet, wrote, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” And even Solomon in Proverbs wrote, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”
As a child, I grew up with 4 flags, the American flag, the Kentucky state flag, the Christian flag, and the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag was an artifact of heritage pride. Even though Kentucky was a border state, it presented as southern. As a child, this was a simple association as was being a female child.
As I grew, I watched white power protesters claim the Confederate flag as their own. They associated it with hateful language, physical pain, and murders directed at innocent people. Just as the Nazis took over the swastika symbol, which was originally a Jewish symbol (something I didn’t know until I traveled to Israel), the Confederate flag was commandeered as a symbol of bigotry, racism, and death of innocents. So, as I grew and understood, I removed the Confederate flag from my things. Though I had one in innocence, I could no longer keep one and be innocent.
In the last few decades, Christendom has been hijacked by bigots and racists. I cringe as I watch hateful words, dangerous actions, and murders in the name of Love of Jesus Christ. These people are not performing Christ-like acts, but by using the name of Christian for their atrocities, they are marking all Christians with their hate and shameful acts, just as the white power people mark all southerners with their hate and shameful acts.
While there are many southerners who are excellent role models for being a real loving, generous southerner, and excellent Christians providing role models for being Christ-like Christians, I wonder, will the haters win? According to the ancient philosophers quoted at the top of this post, they only win if we view the actions of a few and judge everyone with it. For all who are working hard at trying to live a good life, a Christ-like life, I hope people can see beyond the actions of the haters toward the actions of people making positive changes every day.
CITE: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, M.D.