This has been a good week for scandal. We seem to love it, especially when it befalls our enemies.The President’s enemies and opponents are having a very good time right now. I find the culture of scandal intriguing. No one is immune – whether we enjoy the misery it brings to someone else, are torn by it ourselves, or just like watching it as we drive by as some sort of voyeuristic entertainment – we all are guilty at one time or the other of falling into its mire. Scandal can evoke many passions in us – anger, resentment, disgust, sorrow – and it can overshadow everything else in life, both good and bad.
What should our response be, those who seek the life of the spirit? Do we withdraw from the world and ignore it, distance ourselves from it, engage with it completely or should our response be somewhere in between? As free citizens in a free democracy of course we cannot ignore it. We must be informed and engaged if we are to follow the teaching of scripture and live our lives as good citizens of the place where we live. Furthermore, complete withdrawal and distancing ourselves can do us more spiritual harm. When we take spirituality to the extreme, where we become so heavenly minded we are of no earthly good, the result can be that we become self-centered, and spiritually arrogant – a very dangerous spiritual condition. Each person must deal with this culture of scandal for themselves, based upon their own circumstance, but I do pose here a few questions that may help guide our consideration.
1. What is my reason for following the scandal?
2. How often and how long do I read, listen to or watch programs about it? Do I keep watching even after I have learned all the new information?
3. Do I seek information or do I just listen to opinions?
4. Do I read, listen to or watch only those who agree with my opinion?
5. Is my response to the information dispassioned and discerning, or do I respond with emotion, gossip or slander?
And, perhaps even more important than these questions is to remember our obligation to pray every day for the President and all those in public service, even and especially in the midst of scandal and trouble.