I took my dog Murray for a walk this morning. It was a beautiful start to a beautiful day. As I looked around, I could see signs of spring. There were buds on the trees and the grass was finally changing from its dormant brown to a lush green.
I noticed some other colors as well. Among some of the grass was some ground color of a vibrant purple with little tiny leaves. They were quite beautiful and the most colorful vision in my morning stroll. But after taking a closer look, I realized that I was gazing my eyes upon a weed. The same can be said about the many colorful dandelions we see this time of year. Such a nice color of yellow, but like the purple, they are causing damage below the surface.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell with weeds. Many of them look very nice on the shallow surface and without knowing more, one can easily be drawn in by their exterior attraction without knowing the deeper dangers they can bring.
There are many things we can learn from weeds.
We often come across things in life that can appear attractive. Things that can easily fool us if we do not take the time to dig a little deeper.
Recently I spent some time looking at one of the cable news channels. When you first turn it on, things can look kind of pretty. They have flashing lights, big music, a lot of bright colors. The people are all made up to look like Barbie and Ken dolls. Hair full of product, face full of makeup, and outfits that obviously did not just come off the rack.
They begin their broadcasts by reminding us all about the many possible dangers in our world. Violence, terrorism, losing freedoms, losing income, some even warn of the possible loss of prayer and even the loss of God. One can quickly feel anxiety and fear just by listening to the possibilities of everything we hold dear, suddenly going to pot.
But they quickly take care of all fears by offering simple solutions. Things to do to keep the bad guys away for good. With their smiling bleached bright teeth, they assure us the horror will all go away if we just vote a certain way and dislike certain people.
On the surface, there seems to be an answer to all our fears. Fears we have always had and even new fears that they have recently been brought to our attention.
The attraction is in the quick fix to all problems. The simple solutions look nice and easy and black and white. Sometimes it’s nice to be told, “This is the way to fix this.” Sometimes the easy answers can look as pretty and peaceful as a nice purple weed.
Want to end terrorism? Just remove these people.
Want to fix the economy? Just block these people.
Want to save America from falling? Just fight these people.
Want to save God from dying? Just vote for these people.
On the surface it all seems easy but below it’s more complicated.
Sometimes these “solutions,” involve finding others to blame for the world’s problems. And without realizing it, we can find ourselves attracted to feelings of hatred and prejudice. We rally around causes grown from fear and turn our fueled anger toward other people. Groups of people. We no longer see someone as an individual. We see people in groups. Groups of races, territories, classes, lifestyles, genders… and we blame them for our fears.
We are told that, if we continue to hate these groups, we can protect our interests and save ourselves.
It’s just that easy.
And to many, this looks and even feels very good.
Like the weed.
But like the weed, there is so much more going on. More than we can see if we only look at the surface.
Like the weed, hatred can continue to grow and cause great harm. It can kill off the good and starve the things that give true nutrients. As it grows, its appeal fades, and its true ugliness is revealed. And then we realize we have been feeding the wrong things. We did not have the solution after all. Instead, we had only been nourishing the problem.
Like weeds, we can keep them out of our yard if we know what to look for. With awareness, we can pull out the bad and encourage the good. Even if they look nice on the outside, we can learn what to look for on the inside and guard ourselves against nurturing the wrong ideals.
Hating people will not solve terrorism. Hate will never fix an economy. Hate will never make America better. Hate will never solve hate.
And as for God…
God has and always will be here. No vote or policy will change that. Crucifixion didn’t even slow God down. Hanging on a cross never stopped Jesus from loving.
For many, killing Jesus seemed very attractive. After all, he looked like a real threat. Like someone that wanted to change the system. He was a foreigner, from an unpopular place, with differing thoughts and ideas. He shared meals and loved people that were different, outsiders, even enemies. He fed the poor without question. He gave to everyone. He did not put much faith in politics or governments. He loved all people. All individuals.
When he was met with hatred. He met hatred with love.
Even in the time of Jesus, many were attracted to the weeds.
Are we more attracted to the weeds today?
Look below the surface.