Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the more “advanced” societies become, the more privacy they seek. So many things prompt us to do we our individual lives require and then retreat to our castles and pull up the draw bridge: work weeks that can far exceed forty hours, crimes and other corruptions that erode our trust in people and their promises, and ever-improving technologies that enable us to reach out and stay in touch with hundreds a day but also hinder us from getting to know each other deeply.
Today’s article touches on the potential reality of not noticing (or acting to help) others right in front of us. And we can’t say that we’re too busy. Even the Lord Jesus stopped what He was doing to help individual people who were “interruptions” on His way. Consider some of the following before reading the article.
- In Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43 we see Jesus leaving town with His disciples and a great crowd following Him, but a blind beggar kept calling out to Him for help.
- Read Mark 5:31 and Luke 8:45 in context, and we see the Lord Jesus on His way to heal the daughter of a synagogue ruler (i.e., a socially prominent figure) when a social outcast reaches out in faith to touche His clothes and be healed. The Lord stops, turns around, and seeks her out to talk.
- In John 4:4, the writer says Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” to get to Galilee. But it wasn’t because there weren’t other options. Most Jews went around Samaria because they considered it unclean, as the occupants had inter-married with non-Jews centuries before and were, therefore, shunned. Yet, Jesus is not only compelled to go through there, He stopped to talk about eternal life through Him with a Samaritan woman who had a sordid past and present.
- And, of course, the children that Jesus called to Himself, whom the disciples wanted to shoo away in Matthew 19:13-15.
Suspect in Charlottesville attack had displayed troubling behavior
“It takes a village”, by Chaplain Jeff Dillard (15 August 2017)
The line between a troublesome situation and a disaster can be breached in seconds, even by one person. But the building of tensions leading up to such events is rarely quick or private. Alan Blinder of the New York Times reported that some “who knew Mr. Fields, especially from his teenage years, said that his demeanor and opinions had troubled them for years. ‘On many occasions there were times he would scream obscenities, whether it be about Hitler or racial slurs,’ a woman who attended middle school with Mr. Fields in Florence, Ky., said in an email on Sunday. . . As a freshman at Randall K. Cooper High School he wrote a report that, one teacher recalled, fell ‘very much along the party lines of the neo-Nazi movement. A lot of boys get interested in the Germans and Nazis because they’re interested in World War II,’ the teacher, Derek Weimer, told The Cincinnati Enquirer. ‘But James took it to another level.’ Mr. Fields was ‘a very bright kid but very misguided and disillusioned,’ Mr. Weimer said.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/us/suspect-in-charlottesville-attack-had-displayed-troubling-behavior.html) Each individual had concerns but did not speak their piece. They held their peace.
“Speaking our piece” versus “holding our peace” are opposing idioms. In the former, one shares a piece of their mind to communicate their opinion or testimony to others, but in the latter a person avoids greater conflict with self or others by remaining silent. Each is based in opposing underlying values and beliefs. For example, individuals in a village might speak their piece if they believe “a village’s ugly struggle is better than an individual’s personal peace”. On the other hand, multiple individuals in a village might hold their peace if they believe “individuals’ right to privacy is greater than the village’s right to know”. Thus, in societies with strong expectations of community, individuals may have little-to-no privacy – for good or bad. In societies with strong expectation of privacy, communities may have little-to-no information about the individual – again, for good or bad.
Even a cursory study of cultures with opposing views suggests one primary factor that determines their stance: stability. If a society is poor, dangerous, etc., its proverbial villages generally band together to raise their children for mutual survival toward the hope of future prosperity. If a society is more affluent, safe, etc., its individual children who have grown into adulthood and the comforts of prosperity voice a new desire: independence to choose their own way and to protect their lifestyle.
As you may imagine, these dynamics can be cyclical in any group. Families or organizations that sacrifice individuals’ rights for group survival can later prosper and resent perceived intrusions. Then, extreme individualism can breed dark secrets unknown to the group. Either way, it takes a village.
If you’d like to read other articles from this series on current events, you can click here.