There is an epidemic spreading throughout America at an alarming rate. It is more virulent and infectious than anything witnessed in recent memory. No, it is not the return of measles, a disease thought all but eradicated in the last 20 years. It is the epidemic of anger. Talk radio has become a nonstop flow of invectives usually ranting against any and everything and person that does not look or think as we do. At campaign rallies, 45 was not hesitant about encouraging his supporters to beat the hell out of any person who dared to protest at a MAGA rally. In a public pronouncement, he encouraged law enforcement officers to be less than gentle when taking someone into custody, a complete denial of the fact that Eric Garner’s arrest and subsequent choking death by police was an example that law enforcement needs no encouragement to be less than gentle when making arrests. The whole of society seems to reflect the crowd anger at World Wrestling Federation matches, crying for blood and carnage meted out against any who are viewed as enemies.
The proliferation of anger in society is an expression of the social insanity that has been unleashed in the 20th and 21st centuries. In Luke 8, the story is told of a man who is not in his right mind. He lives in the graveyard, exhibits violent fits and must be restrained to prevent him from hurting others or himself. Luke tells us that although the man was not a Jew, Jesus healed him. The demons in him were dispersed into a herd of pigs that stampeded off a cliff to their deaths. Many scholars contend that the shrieks of the evil spirits exiting the man caused the panic and hurdled the swine off the cliffs. When the townspeople heard the commotion, they came to where the man resided and amazingly found him sitting at Jesus’s feet, clothed and in his right mind.
One could make the case that the man’s derangement is akin to the social insanity of anger hatred and rage that plague society. More and more Americans of all races are living in the graveyards of dead dreams and deceased hopes. The death of a productive future has driven many people to a social insanity that manifests itself as unchecked anger. No one quite knows where this societal rage originated, but as with the deranged man in Luke’s gospel, the cure to mental illness, personal or societal, is Jesus.
When MAGA rallies encourage violence, all of us must encourage peace through listening and understanding, as is stated in our church covenant that we must “be slow to take offense but always ready for reconciliation…” If we introduce Jesus into our conversations, the world will see formerly crazed and angry men and women, now in the presence of Jesus, clothed and in their right minds.