When you are always under fire, it’s great to be the victim and to be able to fire back. I am talking about the latest Spy scandal that has been in our news. Great Britain and the USA have been spying on South Africa, Russia and Turkey in 2009 at the G20 Summit.
Here in South Africa (and maybe it’s not too different from Russia) we are constantly being called to task on our endemic corruption, crime and incompetent governance. Now it’s great to accuse the accusers! The South African Governments press release is really well worded, “We have solid, strong and cordial relations with the United Kingdom and would call on their government to investigate this matter fully with a view to take strong and visible action against any perpetrators.”
I know what this feels like. When in the past Christine (my wife of 34 years) and I have had disagreements, she has generally Outwitted, Outplayed and Outlasted me! But on the odd occasion, I have had the upper hand. I have managed to have empirical evidence of her contribution to the fight and been able to prove that I am more right and the greater victim than what she is. I now, the accused, become the accuser. Very good, very satisfying!
Of course the frustrating thing is that when I manage to gain the intellectual ascendancy, she generally offers a sincere apology that takes the proverbial wind out of the sails of my moment of gloating. What do you say when someone offers a sincere apology?
Proverbs 15:1 says this, A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. While Proverbs 25:15 says, By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.
Imagine a world where governments admitted their mistakes and took responsibility for their actions. Never mind governments, imagine a marriage or a parent/child relationship or church or organization, where people responded with gentleness and a “soft tongue”. It would be an end to strife and revenge!
Why do we think that we can justify or cover our own indiscretions by pointing out the faults of others? Jesus knew what he was saying when he told us to “remove the log from our own eye before taking the splinter out of our neighbours eye”. Refusal to lay blame on others and owning your own stuff –these things alone can change the nature of a marriage, an organization, flip…the whole world!
In truth, there is some real short-term satisfaction in pointing out the faults of others and I really wish my life improved when I pointed out the faults of others. But it doesn’t. All I have is a moment of self-righteous smugness. The problem is, the “log” stays lodged in my eye and no matter how wrong the other person maybe, I still keep bumping into things because of what’s in my eye.
So I best do what Jesus says, “take the log out my own eye before I attempt to remove the splinter out of someone else’s”. Then, things will change!
But having said all that I call on Great Britain and leader of the free world, the USA – we, that is, the Russians, the Turks and us South Africans – we await your apology!