Love of God and of neighbor being the two most important commandments in Judeo/Christian belief systems (Mark 12:28-34), we American Evangelicals have managed to twist those around from healthy conviction over how we personally are living and, instead, onto judgment of how our neighbor is living. We seek justification, no longer exclusively through God’s grace, but through our own pseudo-morality. In true victimhood mentality, love becomes more required from our neighbor than from ourselves.
The short word for this is “hypocrisy”!
Jesus gave an illustration for this self-congratulatory lifestyle in Matt 7:13, 14:
Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Robert Frost said it this way in his poem, “The Road Not Taken”:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
“Why have Americans become so mean?”
Have we surrendered morality in public discourse? Conservative columnist, David Brooks, suggests so. He begins his treatise with, “Over the past eight years or so, I’ve been obsessed with two questions (p. 70). The first is: Why have Americans become so sad?” “My second is: Why have Americans become so mean?”
Brooks bemoans the apparent loss of moral formation throughout our culture. I bemoan its abandonment by the most self-conscious wing of the Christian Church – Evangelicalism, a sect turning away from grace and to the law for the expulsion of OPS – “Other People’s Sin”.
Helping people behave in ways that make them feel included, seen, and respected:
Brooks sums it up beautifully (p. 76):
…I understand why people don’t want to get all moralistic in public. Many of those who do are self-righteous prigs, or rank hypocrites. And all of this is only a start. But healthy moral ecologies don’t just happen. They have to be seeded and tended by people who think and talk in moral terms, who try to model and inculcate moral behavior, who understand that we have to build moral communities because, on our own, we are all selfish and flawed…It means helping people behave in ways that make other people feel included, seen, and respected. That’s very different from how we treat people now – in ways that make them feel sad and lonely, and that make them grow unkind.
 Brooks, David. “How America Got Mean”, The Atlantic, (Sept 2023): 68-76.