Right, then. Obviously, by the title, this is installment 4 in a series of some unspecified number of posts. Ironic maybe that I’m not naming the denominator in my own fractions, but whatever. I would suggest reading 1, 2, & 3 in order to help this one make more sense.
What if we look at less appealing common denominators? It’s not so hard or even offensive to compare ourselves to rockstars, writers, or revolutionaries, but what if we start comparing the revolutionaries to the tyrants, or the abusers to the abusees, or, heaven forbid, the blacks to the whites? Might there be commonality between these? Would it just offend both sides to suggest it? We would likely deny it, saying
“I have my opinion – don’t bother me with the truth!”
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. James 4:1-2
So according to James (possibly the brother of Jesus), the tyrants and the rebels and the abusers and those simply defending themselves are all fighting for their own desires. He doesn’t differentiate between good and bad desires so much as he simply identifies that it is our desires that cause fights.
But what if there is an attack with no defense, as in the Selma attack or even the crucifixion of Christ? Christ had His desire and was willing to pay for it, though He shed tears “like blood” and sought the companionship of His friends beforehand. But I don’t think a one sided attack is really what James is addressing, even though the truth is still there. He’s addressing the two sided spousal arguments, or sibling disputes, or race relations, or religious debates, or political wrangling. In most of these cases, both sides have their own positions and desires and passions, and both sides want those to prevail. More often than not, it’s not actually that one side is good and the other is evil, so much as both have an objective and the objectives clash.
When one person’s objective is to place the other in subjection, it’s worth the fight.
Otherwise, it’s worth finding the underlying interests and common denominators and as Jesus said, “putting away the sword.” What Peter failed to see was that even Jesus and Judas had a common denominator: an interest in the crucifixion. Odd, isn’t it?
What are the swords that should be put away in a nation where swords are no longer anything but recreational or sport? Name calling, political threatening, intimidation, belittling, false accusations, public humiliation, and the list goes on. I dream of a day when our “leaders” are trying again to solve the problems of social strength and preservation rather than self-promotion and preservation.
But to arrive at that day, we have to look at the denominators. The fractions can be reduced or multiplied up to reach a common, but it takes a little effort. As long as we are too lazy to do this, we will only add the already obviously common, and separate the fractions out into factions. And then the factions will fight for self preservation individually, at the expense of one another and the nation and world as a whole. Just because the leaders were too lazy to find the common denominators.
So again, what can we do?
“Speak your truth.”
“Even when your voice is shaking.”
“Especially when your voice is shaking.”