Is this what we’ve come to?
Recently I’ve seen a commercial on t.v. encouraging us to sign up for a particular cable or satellite system to get the benefit of being able to watch College Football games. So far so good. But what really caught my attention (frankly the mysteries of American football are beyond me!) was the ‘carrot’ that they dangled which was supposed to make me want to sign up. I wasn’t sure that I had heard it right. I didn’t think I could have heard it right. I listened carefully to it several times in order to make sure that I had heard it right. And then I wrote it down: Here’s the carrot: “We’ll show you hate and disrespect unlike anything you’ve ever seen.” And there was a shot of a ‘fan’ wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “I HATE [name of opposing team]”
I get friendly rivalry, I get competition (although I don’t think I have a competitive bone in my body) but how did it metamorphose into “hate and disrespect?” When did hate and disrespect become something I would want to seek out, to PAY to see, to admire?
After Charlottesville there was much wringing of hands and condemnation of hateful speech such as “Jews will not replace us.” But what are our young people to conclude if they are being told that “hate and disrespect” are admirable qualities when it comes to sports and other rivalries. When our leaders in Congress and the White House and elsewhere publicly call each other names and insult one another, what are we to think? - must be the way to get things done!
It’s so different from the picture that the New Testament gives us. St. Paul, writing to the Ephesians says: “When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need -- words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you”. (Eph. 4.29) Words are powerful. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is the Word of God - He is how God communicates Himself to us. There’s an old saying which we always heard when we complained that the other kids were calling us names: “Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Honestly, that’s just totally wrong. You can destroy a person by the words you use. If you constantly call someone stupid, or lazy, or worthless, if you insult them or even just ignore them and treat them disrespectfully, they get the idea that they aren’t worth anything.
I struggled for years with a phrase that was almost our family motto: “Nice people don’t…..” Well I did now and again, so I must not be nice people etc., etc. We need to be very careful of the words we use. It isn’t good enough to say “I was only joking,” or “all’s fair in love and war” or “I didn’t really mean it.” Jesus tells us when we enter a house (and by extension whenever we meet someone) we should say, “Peace be with you.” In Irish (Gaelic) the way to say ‘Hello’ is “Dia Dhuit” which means “God be with you. And the answer is “Dia 's Muire dhuit” which means ‘God and Mary be with you.’
Sounds a lot nicer than “I HATE…..”
God Bless. Fr. Robert.