I get really preachy on social media. I find myself second-guessing statuses on Facebook or tweets or even blog posts here all the time thinking, “Okay – this is too far – even for Reverend Zoot.” Yes – you heard me right – for every ONE preachy status or blog post or tweet about the importance of compassion and empathy, there are at least TWO that I didn’t share because I worried it was too much.
I really do struggle with this a lot. I have lessons I have learned in my life – some from experience and some from the wisdom and example of those around me – and I want to share those with the world. As much as I struggle with anxiety and depression, I love my life and I love the world and I firmly believe it’s compassion and empathy that keeps me from falling into a deep hole and never coming out. Sometimes it’s empathy towards people making me feel anxiety, but sometimes it’s compassion towards myself. Either way – there are forces I use to guide my perspective and my life and many moments are made easier by those perspectives; so I’m compelled to share them.
I’m also a writer deep in my blood and there are often current events and attitudes that won’t let me sleep at night until I put words to paper somewhere and clear the chaos from my mind. A perfect example was something that’s been haunting me in the days following the RNC. I was seeing a lot of my liberal or progressive friends giving conservatives ultimatums. “If you are voting for Trump, we can’t be friends.” Maybe not that clear or black & white, but the general point was that…time and time again. I can not understand any reason you would vote for that man so we should cease all connection. My feelings about these attitudes have been rattling around in my head and in my heart for days and finally – around 9pm last night – I got my sermon ready to share with any congregation who would listen.
DO YOU SEE? I AM SO PREACHY.
But I’m trying to become one with that tendency. I’m still deleting blog posts (I have at least 4 million preachy blog posts in my draft folder) and tweets and FB statuses, but I’m trying to allow myself to do it once it awhile to soothe the compulsion I have to make the world better by helping everyone else learn the lessons I learned through blood and sweat and tears. I am not like my daughter, I was not born with this level of compassion and empathy. It took being an asshole – from like age 12 to age 22 – to really learn the importance of the two traits. And for every year that ticks by that I try my best to keep my grasp on that perspective, I feel the need to spend time sharing that outlook with others who may not see the world the same way I do.
But here’s the kicker: It is REALLY hard to be preachy without God.
There are so many times I want to use God in my sermons. Not because I believe it, but because it makes things so much easier. “Why should we refuse to sever ties with Trump supporters?” “Because God told us, through his son, to love one another.” Or maybe, “Because we are all created by God and only made evil by sin so we must love each other like we love God.” Or even take it to a more Eastern philosophy of God, “God is part of everything. He is part of the prostitute on the corner, the sociopath with the gun, and the children in the school yard. We have to see that in order to give the world the love it needs.”
DO YOU SEE? So much easier than, “Humans are complex. I still want to love them.”
I also think about when I’m talking to the kids about good/bad behavior. Sometimes I feel like it would be so much easier to explain, “We don’t lie because it’s a sin.” Instead I have to give this lecture about trust and how important it is to have trust in a family and in friendships and how people won’t trust you if you lie and…do you see? SO TRICKY.
But I guess I’ll keep preaching because it is my penance for the actions of Zoot of yesteryear. I want to enlighten the 20-year old Zoots of the world. I would love it if my words could help teach love and compassion and empathy so that people don’t have to learn the way I did – by being such a self-righteous asshole you find yourself alone and miserable and questioning all of your life choices for the 10 years prior.