Saturday, December 6, 2008

The People Problem

“People are the world's biggest problem”, one writer put it. And she is absolutely right. One of the main dilemmas with people is we're born pathological liars and pure idiots. To be blunt, we as people are stupid. Even the smartest, most creative, well spoken humans are stupid. Not stupid intellectually speaking, but stupid in regards to common sense and consequence.
       We see from the first people of our human history––Adam and Eve––that we as a species are devoid common sense and perceiving consequences. Yeah, yeah, we can build, formulate, amaze each other, and so on. But when it comes to understanding the seriousness of our own choices, and thinking something all the way through before we do it, we suck. We are impulse driven people, reactional beings. More than not, we respond without thinking (i.e. without rationalizing the consequences of our own choices) on what we're getting ready to do. And because of that, we find ourselves in a bigger and smellier mess than we imagined. Or, we deceive our own selves into believing that we had nothing to do with it and it's all the other persons fault (e.g. Gen.3:9-12).
     It's sad to know that people, when confronted with an issue (whatever that may be), can't stand back and say, “Here's my fault in it”; and then with that admission in mind, proceed forward with the matter. Regardless if justice is served, (bearing in mind that the same fallible people are the ones making the judgments), the fact that each party involved admitted beforehand to their part in it will make some kind of difference––at least to a mature individual. Even so, any kind of positive difference is a good thing; for our audience reaches beyond a two person capacity.
       The younger generation observes everything. How we handle our choices in the midst of situations displays to the youth a pattern to follow or not to follow. Yet the same problem lies with the youth as with the older generation, they are also devoid common sense and perceiving consequences. Thus, they don't always learn from our mistakes. This then means we as parents, teachers, older family members, and so on, need to first learn how to better handle our part in situations and then show the younger people how to do the same. Otherwise, the dysfunctional method in which we handle situations will be absorbed and continued by them.

Understanding How To Get A Better Handle
We can learn a valuable understanding about “the people problem” from Newton's law of physics: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. In light of Newton's law of physics, every situation involving another person can be seen as an equation (e.g. 1 + 1 = 2). Every person(s) first does something, afterward the other person(s) involved reacts, and then there's the outcome: something good or something not good. The fact that someone outside of oneself is involved indicates this law or equation is present; for there can be no equation if there is only one variable. However, that's only part of the problem. The major part of the problem with this law/equation is it begets a cycle: first an initial action, then a reaction, and then a reaction from person one, and then another reaction from person two, and then another reaction from person one, and so on until someone stops it.
       We've all heard the phrase, "it takes two to tango". Well, as a friend of mine mentioned, it also takes two to argue and two to fight. Many of my marital woes have come out of this law/equation. It wasn't until one of us apologized and admitted our fault that the present tension and misery stopped. Most of life's drama-filled issues will require two or more participants. And I guarantee you those drama-filled issues will (or have) beget that “cycle” and continue to go on until someone stops it. All it takes to stop this brutal cycle is simply admitting ones fault in the matter, apologizing for it, and not playing into it any longer. By removing oneself from the equation means there is only one variable. Only one variable means the equation is incomplete. And an incomplete equation can't give any outcome but incomplete. In this case, unlike what we were taught in school, an incomplete is a good thing.

“Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.” (Prov. 20:3, NLT)

A Biblical Resolution
My wife asked a very good question after she read this. She said how would I, using the Word of God, show the brothers and sisters in the faith how to regulate being “reactional”? The Bible gives a clear-cut prescription on how we as believers are to react/respond to other people in whatever the situation:
1. Think before doing or speaking. (Prov. 15:28; 17:27-28, Jam. 1:19-20, Col. 4:6)
2. Exercise integrity/be honest. (Prov. 3:3-4; 10:9)
3. Be humble. (Prov. 3:5-8; 11:2, 12)
4. Walk in love. (Prov. 10:12; 17:9)
This prescription, if followed, will help us regulate our reactions/responses to other people in a way that Christ is pleased and glorified.
      We have to remember, that even though when we follow this prescription (and it works like everything else the Bible prescribes works), it's neither by our power nor by our might that we are able to regulate our reactions/responses to other people. It is by the Spirit of God that we are able to do all that is pleasing to Christ (Phil. 2:13, Heb. 13:20-21); for how we react/respond to other people matters to Jesus (Matt. 5:16). In these situations we will either shine a good light on our witness for Christ or not. And as ambassadors for Jesus, our aim should always be to glorify Him and bring glory to His name wherever we are and in whatever we do (Col. 3:7, 1Cor. 10:31).

Yes, I made some bold accusations in the beginning of this article. But rightfully so. If we go back to the beginning of time in Genesis we'll see these claims to be true. I guess due to sin being passed down to everyone from Adam, stupidity figured it could hitch a ride as well. Yet, unlike our sinful nature, which will be present until Christ redeems us from the flesh, there is a cure for our stupidity––i.e. lying, foolishness, lack of common sense, not perceiving consequences––and that is...the Word of God. The Word of God is God's wisdom given to mankind (Prov. 2:1-9; 8:22-36, 1Cor. 1:30-31). It is the only cure for all of man's disorders, and in this case, the cure for our part in “the people problem”.
       As a result of this article, I hope you and I both lean on the Holy Spirit to bring this all back to mind the next time we're amid “the people problem”. This way Jesus can be glorified, we can begin to experience a change in how we handle situations, and our witness for Christ not be ruined.