The news lately has not been pretty. News in general is rarely happy, as trauma tends to be more sensational and better for headlines than generosity, grace, and love. But it's been extra bad, at least in my perception.
Neighboring countries bombing one another. Children being beheaded because they're of the wrong tribe/religion. Women being stoned because they didn't follow the right religious observance. Police wearing military gear against the communities they were sworn to protect.
What is with the lack of value of human life?
Even in my attempt at downtime, a fictional audiobook I'm listening to is focusing on lynchings in the South in the early 20th century. Why is our history (and present) so focused on killing the Other? Not just ostracizing, shaming, or trying to change the Other (all of which can be bad enough), but flat out destroying them?
I keep coming back to my reflections when I preached last month. The title of my sermon was Identity in Love, and my thought was that it has to do with our identities. When our identities are tied up in tribes, which are focused on sameness, then difference becomes a threat to who we are. Since that sermon, I keep seeing this pattern over and over across cultures and time.
Is there another explanation? If this idea of how we form our identity is at least a piece of the cause of violence against the Other, then how do we promote this kind of identity formation? It's beyond the prosocial behavior building promoted by positive psychology (which I think is wonderful). Identity is deeper than behavior, at least in my view. Spiritual formation seems to start getting in to some of that, as a core idea of spiritual formation is identity, at least spiritually. But most spiritual formation tends to be very individualistic.
It seems what we need is a new corporate identity. We need to change culture. I guess that starts with individuals, but it doesn't seem to be happening quickly enough...