“Speed is the curse of the century,” Evgeny Yevtushenko* wrote in the 1960s. Indeed, every epoch has its own defining problem that, although it may have existed in other times as well, serves as a “determinant attribute”.
Our time also has its defining problem. The curse of our century is anger. Yes, modern man is angry. But his anger is particular. There have been enough angry people in all ages. It seems however that in former times even pathologically wrathful people knew that their condition and their attitude to life were wrong. As much as they were convinced of their righteousness and wanted to justify their anger in their own eyes and in the eyes of society, it was never considered the norm.
A far cry from the way things are now. It is fashionable to be angry these days. It’s trendy to show aggression or hate. It is stylish not to forgive enemies. It is elegant not to show mercy. Modern man is no longer tormented by doubts or guilty conscience, because he is right. It doesn’t matter whether it is in the eyes of a particular community, like the internet users, or society in general, modern man is always right. The most respected person in modern society is an activist. Let’s leave aside the fact that hyperactive social attitude is common among people who either failed to succeed professionally or suffer from children’s and adolescent insecurities and low self-esteem. But it’s noteworthy how angry and cruel people infallibly assured of their rectitude can be. Search for them on the Internet and you will find so much content that you will not study it in a year. You will find youngsters engaged in putting huge stickers on the windshields of improperly parked cars. You will find men who believe that they have the right to dismantle illegally installed devices for blocking parking spaces as well as barriers and fences. You will find brawlers blocking the work of stores because of some product’s design that they do not like. You will find doers of street justice attacking numerically inferior transgressors for offences not worth a nickel. Note that you will see dozens of approving, enthusiastic and encouraging comments under each such video or a post describing another trick of some activist. Our society, whether consciously or not, has placed hatred on a par with normal human feelings. Suddenly it turned out that an enemy, an opponent, a carrier of the opposite point of view, can be hated. Certain groups of people have decided that they have the right to violence, and society has agreed with them. Without realizing it, we found ourselves in a world where justice has ceased to be the prerogative of authorized bodies. The right to administer justice has been appropriated by groups of aggressive people believing that truth rests with the power. As a result, society completely ceased to react to actions that were considered the top of immorality for centuries in any human community – from officers to criminals. It is no longer shameful for a crowd to attack one person. It is not shameful to harass a neighbor or to beat a lying person. In the face of hatred, we no longer distinguish women, children, old people, weak, sick, respectable, sympathetic… Christians have also become victims of attacks, slander and violence only because of their faith. This is happening not only in the Muslim world. Our country, alas, is no exception.
Without a doubt, our time may seem scary, and the metamorphoses of the world that we have recently become accustomed to are terrifying. But realistically, God allowed us to live in a time more convenient for our salvation than any other. Not so long ago, the words of Christ about the world lying in wickedness raised many questions. One of them is about finding the verge between the world as God’s creation, God’s gift to man and the object of God’s love, for whose salvation He “gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16) on the one hand, and the world that “lies in evil” (1 John 5 :19) on the other hand. What is that “friendship with the world”, that “is enmity against God” (James 4: 4)? How do we combine Christian love with the call “Love not the world, nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15)? At least I heard many such questions in my younger years. To be honest, in my youth I asked myself those questions more than once. Now, looking at the grin of “this world” with its legalized hatred and violence made the norm, anger as something to be proud of, and abomination exposed at any occasion, few people ask such questions. In a sense, it is enough for a Christian today to simply not be like the majority. Do not show anger, fight against anger in yourself, do not allow yourself to hate anyone, even clearly vicious people, obvious enemies of the church and hardened cynics who have lost everything human to the feeling of permissiveness. Not so long ago, Christ’s commandment to forgive insults and love enemies seemed difficult to fulfil, but today we are looking at the streams of hatred and boundless anger poured out on any dissent or anyone who for some reason is recorded filed as an enemy. Mercy, forgiveness and evangelical attitude towards enemies are no longer seen as transcendental heights of spirituality, but rather as a vital necessity, the only remedy for the bitterness spreading throughout the world with the inevitability of an epidemic. Undoubtedly, we are living in an upside down world. But it is precisely the perversity of the world that makes it easy to navigate in modern life. It is clear to any attentive Christian, and to those who strive to live according to the Gospel.
As long as our faith does not weaken, our love does not fade away and our courage does not leave us, there is no doubt that God will guide us through these difficult times. He permitted for us to live in them because of our laziness and corruption and with the purpose of our salvation. This salvation is accomplished in courage, selflessness, faithfulness to Christ and living according to the Gospel in spite of anything. And therefore, there is nothing to be afraid of. Let us courageously accept the challenge of these times and not hinder God from saving us!
*Evgeny Yevtushenko – a Soviet and Russian poet.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds