On Motes and Splinters

Once again we are confronted with senseless violence as police officers are shot down in Dallas TX. We point fingers. We blame just as we did after the Orlando shootings and after the many senseless killings that seem to be happening every time we turn on the news. Yes, there are issues of gun control and, yes, there are issues of excessive force, all serious matters that need our attention.

But we seem also to be living in a spiritual vacuum. Politicians claim to be Christian as they decry women who have abortions or gay people who want to be married or Muslims. In the midst of such nonsense, those of us who claim to be Christian conveniently forget the words of Jesus.

I am not talking of Jesus’ almost impossible directive to love our enemies, although that also is relevant. I am talking about his directive to remove the motes in our own eyes before criticizing the splinter in someone else’s eye. AA puts it like this:” When you point you finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you.”

This is one area where being a Christian becomes tough. Jung tells us that we all have a Shadow side — elements to our psychological and spiritual makeup that we don’t like to admit or face. In some ways, the more religious we profess to be, the more difficult it becomes facing our Shadow. Witness the many televangelists caught with their pants down.

Further, we are challenged to face the Enemy Within with compassion, not judgment. But first we have to acknowledge that enemy. As I face my own Shadow, it is not easy to admit that I have violence within me, that I can judge, that I can hate. Yet by facing and embracing those parts, in essence opening those parts to be redeemed and transformed, they lose their destructive potential.

So, yes, within me I have a racist. A sexist. A man who can be provoked to violence. A man who likes power and control. I don’t own a gun but have held and fired them and remember the adrenalin rush that can come with that power. I have within me a scribe. A pharisee. And, yes, I have within me a Donald Trump and a Hilary Clinton. I don’t like any of these parts but if I deny them, they become more powerful. And dangerous.

If we can truly embrace Jesus’ words about motes and splinters, then perhaps genuine dialogue and understanding becomes possible.