Friday, October 4, 2013

The Gospel According to Abby

Many years ago I taught a preschool class of three year olds. Part of our daily group time was music. Abby was a bright little girl who quickly picked up the songs and the hand motions. She was capable and followed directions. During one class session I smiled at her at said, "Good work, Abby!" What happened next floored me.

Not five minutes later she looked over at a little boy who was not participating, reached out, and slapped his face. "He's not doing it!" she explained. As you might imagine, it took all the joy out of Circle Time.

I realized from observing Abby over time that there was a deep-seated philosophy behind her actions. I have come to think of it as the Gospel According to Abby. Stated simply,

"It is not enough that I be praised; others must be punished."

Abby, and others like her, do not feel content in themselves--not for who they are, or for their own capability and successes. In order for them to experience true satisfaction, others must be punished for failing. If you have ever met anyone like this, you know that they can be quite self-righteous.

I share this now because it seems to me that the Gospel according to Abby is spreading dangerously through our American culture. You can see it in comments on local blogs and internet news sites. You can see it in Congress amongst Tea Party Representatives and those who align themselves with them.

Adherents to this Gospel may say it is about personal responsibility, and about stopping the dependence on government. But, if you listen closely, the Gospel is there.

"It is not enough that I be praised; others must be punished." or, "It is not enough that I succeed; others must fail." Or, in religion, "It is not enough that I am saved; others must be damned."

Why is this dangerous? If your world view and your capacity for enjoyment is dependent on the failure and punishment of others, then you will continue to look for and strive for that. If you can only be happy when others are not, what kind of world do you want to build?

And what kind of a life can you hope to achieve, when your happiness and satisfaction is so precarious, so dependent on the actions and judgement of others?

The mission of this blog is to be a Community blog. I work hard to keep a local view. But current events are overwhelming this week. How do we challenge Abby's Gospel? How do we set free those who are so firmly bound to it?

I'm hoping you'll share your thoughts.



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