From Zero-Sum Thinking to the Mind of Christ
If we understand that we have entered a season of anger and outrage perilously close to violence because of zero-sum thinking and envy, how do we get out of our current culture of outrage in America? First, by recognizing how hard it is to extract ourselves from zero-sum thinking, false judgements, envy and anger that has moved close to violence. It is hard, it feels nearly impossible. But we have no choice as followers of Jesus Christ, as people committed to the way of life and teachings of Jesus to try.
We are called as followers of Jesus Christ to recommit ourselves to monitoring our anger and outrage. I will be the first to confess that I have let anger get the better of me at times in recent weeks—some of that comes from the stress of many obligations, but some I think comes from the culture of outrage that has seeped into my being. This weekend saw the death of one of the great leaders for equality our nation has had—Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For many, especially many women, she has been a role model. There is a recording from some years back in which the Supreme Court Justice recounts wise advice she got from her mother before she passed at the young age of 47. That advice included: “be a lady.” By which the mother meant: “do not be distracted by the emotions of anger, envy and resentment. These just sap energy and waste time.” Anger, envy and resentment can distract us from those acts of goodness, kindness, mercy and justice it is within our power to do.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to recommit ourselves to non-violence whatever tactics others might take to escalate anger and discord. Non-violent direct action, the “good trouble” of John Lewis, will lead us to the justice we seek.
As followers of Jesus Christ we must stop our habits of judging the worthiness of others. Human worthiness comes with life, it comes from God. It does not come from our biases or delights. I think one of the great benefits of getting older is that I have learned to talk less, listen more, and see people more as God sees them. Broken yet blessed. Inherently worthy of God’s concern, worthy of God’s grace.
As followers of Jesus Christ we must free ourselves from zero-sum thinking and elevate our minds—as Paul says--into the mind we share with Christ, the mind that God’s grace is available to all and that there is no end to God’s grace. There is no end to God’s generosity and justice. And we have nothing to fear.