Perspectives by Rev. Clarence Witten

It may sound kind of dumb, but sometimes when I hear two sides to an argument I think that both sides are right. 

One person makes his/her case, and I think, “Hey, that sounds good to me.” Then the other gives his/her counter argument and I figure, “Wow. That’s true too.” 

Yet d’uh. They can’t both be right, can they, if they’re making opposite arguments? Or can they?

Where I experience this the most is in two of the political magazines I subscribe to. One is very left wing, the other writes from the perspective of the far right. Boy do they differ. 

The funniest thing is that they often cover the same topics at the same time. 

So I get my right wing paper and read a defense of the west’s involvement in a war in some far off place because of the good things that will come out of it.

Then a week or two later, I’ll get the left-leaning perspective of how the west has no business being in this war and should leave immediately. 

One magazine will blast a given government policy, the other will bless it.

At the present, both magazines are writing about the Occupy Wall Street protests that are taking place around the world. And of course they both have different takes on the issue. 

One whole-heartedly supports the protests and thinks it’s great that people are taking on corporate greed and the unfair distribution of wealth on our planet. The other magazine is of course not willing to do that. It will blame someone else or something else for poverty and the economic woes we’re facing.

So what do I learn from this?

First, if I am willing to look for it and be open to it, there is truth in both magazines. But I have learned something else. In so many of the issues that these magazines address, like who is to blame for the economic mess the world is in today, they all seem to want to blame ‘someone else.’ The right blames the government and their taxes while the left blames the corporations and financial institutions.

In this blame game I remember a famous quote by Solzhenitsyn the Russian dissident. He wrote that while he was rotting away in a Soviet prison “ it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.” 

It’s easy to blame the ‘other side’ for what’s wrong, but it’s not that simple. There’s evil in us all, including greed, and we all contribute to the brokenness of this world.

Really, I learn this lesson best from one of the Bible’s most colorful characters, John the Baptist. When different groups of people came to him to be baptized, regular folk, soldiers, and tax collectors, he pointed out that there was evil or sin in each of their hearts. How they live it out may be different for them all, but none were exempt. 

In fact, he also goes on in the chapter (Luke 3) to point out the king himself is not immune from sin. Sin or evil simply are universal. But the coolest thing we learn from John the Baptist is what to do with this sin. Turn to Jesus he tells them all. Repent of your sin, and this Jesus will cleanse you and forgive you of it. 

Great truths still for today. We may see evil in everyone else, and want to blame this group or that for what’s wrong with this planet, but one of the wisest things we can do is face up to the fact of our own contribution to the world’s problems, our own greed maybe, or wastefulness, or indifference. The fact that there is wrong with us (this thing the Bible calls sin) and to go to Christ for the solution.

When we receive Christ as our personal Saviour, as the one who died for our sin, we discover that not only does Christ forgive our sin and evil, but he also gives us power to overcome it.

And if we’re willing he will give us a spirit of love, compassion, and justice to empower us to go into our broken world to bring healing and help.

This world does have problems, but instead of just blaming others for them, in Christ, let’s become part of the solutions.

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