A: Thank you so much for writing to us here at Truthbook with your very interesting and timely questions. Since you wrote two notes, I am combining them in this one response.
First. you write: "It seems people are becoming more and more filled with animosity and rage towards one another. Is this a byproduct of the so called "elite" keeping the status quo as to attain more wealth while the common man must still struggle?
We are presently in an age of fear and confusion due to the failure of many of our long-standing institutions. Political, financial, and religious scandals have rocked our trust in institutions that were once thought to be sacred. Many mistakes have been made, many liberties taken by those in power...the status quo is being challenged as a result, and, as you pointed out, this extreme animosity may be a by-product of power struggles of the haves with the have-nots. I see this as a difficult, but probably necessary process that we have to go through before we can begin to realize a different kind of social structure which is based more on equality and justice—namely, the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the meantime, we have the advice of Jesus regarding these worldly matters:
"Political attitude. He cautioned his apostles to be discreet in their remarks concerning the strained relations then existing between the Jewish people and the Roman government; he forbade them to become in any way embroiled in these difficulties. He was always careful to avoid the political snares of his enemies, ever making reply, 'Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things which are God's.' He refused to have his attention diverted from his mission of establishing a new way of salvation; he would not permit himself to be concerned about anything else. In his personal life he was always duly observant of all civil laws and regulations; in all his public teachings he ignored the civic, social, and economic realms. He told the three apostles that he was concerned only with the principles of man's inner and personal spiritual life."
"Social attitude. The Jewish rabbis had long debated the question: Who is my neighbor? Jesus came presenting the idea of active and spontaneous kindness, a love of one's fellow men so genuine that it expanded the neighborhood to include the whole world, thereby making all men one's neighbors. But with all this, Jesus was interested only in the individual, not the mass. Jesus was not a sociologist, but he did labor to break down all forms of selfish isolation. He taught pure sympathy, compassion. Michael of Nebadon is a mercy-dominated Son; compassion is his very nature.
"Economic attitude. Jesus worked, lived, and traded in the world as he found it. He was not an economic reformer, although he did frequently call attention to the injustice of the unequal distribution of wealth. But he did not offer any suggestions by way of remedy. He made it plain to the three that, while his apostles were not to hold property, he was not preaching against wealth and property, merely its unequal and unfair distribution. He recognized the need for social justice and industrial fairness, but he offered no rules for their attainment.
"Jesus had little to say about the social vices of his day; seldom did he make reference to moral delinquency. He was a positive teacher of true virtue. He studiously avoided the negative method of imparting instruction; he refused to advertise evil. He was not even a moral reformer. He well knew, and so taught his apostles, that the sensual urges of mankind are not suppressed by either religious rebuke or legal prohibitions. His few denunciations were largely directed against pride, cruelty, oppression, and hypocrisy."
Finally, (bolding is mine)
Peter grasped the idea that the gospel they were about to proclaim was really a fresh beginning for the whole human race.
James grasped the thrilling truth that Jesus wanted his children on earth to live as though they were already citizens of the completed heavenly kingdom.
You also asked: "How does one not succumb to hate when dealing with the bigots and racists who believe this country is 'theirs'?"
It is the natural reaction of the moral person, when we witness racism and bigotry, to feel uncomfortable. These kinds of behaviors can even inspire us to react in kind—to have feelings of loathing towards those who exhibit them—maybe even to resort to shouting back. This may be a natural reaction, but I think you'll agree that fighting evil with evil is far from what Jesus called us to do:
"He never ceased to warn his disciples against the evil practice of retaliation; he made no allowance for revenge, the idea of getting even. He deplored the holding of grudges. He disallowed the idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. He discountenanced the whole concept of private and personal revenge, assigning these matters to civil government, on the one hand, and to the judgment of God, on the other. He made it clear to the three that his teachings applied to the individual, not the state. He summarized his instructions up to that time regarding these matters, as:
Love your enemies—remember the moral claims of human brotherhood.
The futility of evil: A wrong is not righted by vengeance. Do not make the mistake of fighting evil with its own weapons.
Have faith— confidence in the eventual triumph of divine justice and eternal goodness.
I have taken all of the above quotes from a single section of The Urantia Book, titled "Thursday Afternoon on the Lake." To read this entire section regarding Jesus' teachings to the apostles regarding the eternal Kingdom of God and the temporal kingdoms of men, please go HERE
To overcome evil with good is our mandate. This vital ingredient of the gospel of the Master is one that many find very difficult to come to grips with, especially in today's combative atmosphere. Nonetheless, it is what Jesus taught, and what he lived. If we are to experience a happy life, we would do well to avoid situations that inspire our baser instincts; instead, when faced with this kind of unpleasantness, to pray for those who are engaged in these battles; pray for righteousness to prevail.
It may seem that this is too passive an idea, and we may not see the results that we desire any time soon, but such prayer will surely assist us in creating an inner life which is largely free of harmful attitudes. In this way, we create the kind of mental atmosphere that is needed to achieve personal inner peace, no matter what happens in the world around us. After all, the institutions of men are temporal. The spiritual realities that we seek are eternal. When we strive for those, we exhibit to the world, and reinforce for ourselves, that there is a better way. Over time, and with persistence, this quiet revolution by individuals can lend stability to our stressed society by lessening fear and producing people who treat others with greater respect.
Knowing what the Master taught, and how he lived his life , we are inspired to sincerely try to go and do likewise. We live in a political and cultural climate of extreme polarization of ideas and ideals, not all that different from the times of Jesus' days. Even though the loud, hateful voices gain a lot of attention, we can rise above them by channeling our frustrations into working for their opposite—first, by sincere prayer, and also by actively working with those who lend their efforts to economic fairness and social justice. These are societal benefits that Jesus espoused, and that should inspire our positive efforts.
I agree that this presents a challenge to the God-knowing soul, but it is a challenge that we are equipped to overcome by adopting the techniques that Jesus used in his struggles—he used the "weapons" of brotherly love, faith, trust and non-violence in all his dealings with his foes, whether political or social. He spoke the truth without fear, and exhibited an unswerving faith in God and the eventual triumph of goodness over evil.
Again, I want to thank you for writing to us with these important questions. I hope my reply has been helpful to you. And please accept my invitation to sign up for our free "Quotes About Life" service which will deliver to your inbox a daily inspiration from the teachings of The Urantia Book. "