Beyond Understanding
Posted on June 20, 2016

There are so many things I simply do not understand. I have conceded that some of those things I simply never will understand. I don't understand algebra. I did not understand it in high school. I did not understand it in college. I have not understood it in the over forty years since I graduated from college. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never understand it and simply thank God for calculators. I do not understand why people enjoy salads. I know why salads are important from a nutritional point of view, and particularly related to things like weight control. That part I understand. But why human beings profess to actually enjoy food that has virtually no flavor and was intended for rabbits, I will never understand.

But there are other things, far more serious things, that I simply cannot comprehend at all. To me, they are beyond understanding.

I will never understand why people dislike other people whom they have never met. We are all members of the same biological family. It's not a question of why humans and boa constrictors have difficulty finding common ground on which to coexist. It’s about humans and humans who are literally genetic brothers and sisters. So, why would we detest or dismiss our relatives... especially when those relatives are people we do not know, have never met, and thus have not even had the opportunity to be in conflict with? I simply do not understand that.

We've all been heartbroken recently by the tragedy in Orlando. A gunman, motivated by hatred for brothers and sisters whom he did not even know, randomly murdered forty-nine people created in the image of God and injured over fifty others. I do not understand that kind of hatred. I do not understand, nor would I even want to understand, the demented motivation that would lead someone to do that.

I particularly do not understand how a person can commit so grievous a sin against God and then claim to do it in God's name. If that does not break the Third Commandment, nothing does.

I do not understand how the shooter had been on the FBI’s observation list for two years and was still granted a license to purchase and carry a gun. Furthermore, I do not understand why he or anyone would need or be allowed to purchase an assault rifle. The Second Amendment was specifically written to allow citizens in the 18th century to form a militia and arm themselves to protect against invasion by a foreign power, specifically Britain. Seriously, the Red Coats are no longer a threat. Neither then nor now, and especially now, did it have anything to do with people in the 21st century being able to purchase and use assault rifles.

I do not understand why two days after the shooting in Orlando the annual meeting of a Christian denomination would enact legislation that virtually endorses bigotry against LGBTQ individuals. How does a church, supposedly the earthly body of the Prince of Peace, sow seeds in the lives of followers that have the potential to bear ongoing fruits of prejudice, exclusivism, and hatred?

I do not understand why political campaigns are increasingly founded and rooted in anger and vitriol rather than in an honest debate of the myriad issues facing our nation and our world. If leaders or aspiring leaders desire to create a world of peace, then should they not be expected to model to the rest of us what that looks like? And that is not a partisan statement. For too many years there has been too much negativity and mud-slinging on both sides of the aisle.

I do not understand rampant child abuse.

I do not understand trafficking, misogyny, and the abuse of women.

I do not understand the escalating abuse of older adults.

I do not understand why some people seem not to notice that we are on this earth for such a brief span of time, and we have the option to find joy by expressing love or to condemn ourselves to misery by submitting to suspicion and hatred. Why would anyone not choose joy? And particularly as people of faith, I do not understand why we have chosen consistently to ignore the mandate of The Messiah: "This is My commandment, that you love one another."

This much, however, I do understand – that no matter what choices the world makes, you and I must choose peace. We must choose tolerance. We must choose mercy. We must choose kindness. We must choose love. For if you and I do not choose and practice those things, eventually the world will become a strange and frightening place that no one can possibly understand.


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