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Davis Journal

We should live the way we profess to believe

Apr 08, 2022 09:32AM ● By The Andersons

“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.”

Voltaire penned those words more than 300 years ago. When I read it for the first time the other day, I paused and read it again. I paused longer the second time and pondered its meaning.

To do something means to take action. I’d like to think it also means for that action to be one that is good, benevolent, service oriented and/or constructive.

This past Sunday night, my phone pinged with text alert after text alert. It was my grown kids wondering if we were watching the Oscars, and if we had seen actor Will Smith punch Chris Rock? We hadn’t. To be honest, we haven’t watched a Hollywood award show in well over a decade, but I digress.

If you aren’t aware of what happened, here’s a brief synopsis:

Rock is a comedian. During his monologue, which consisted of lots of jokes, Rock referenced one of his jokes toward the wife of Will Smith. Jada Smith has been battling hair loss for the past year or so due to a condition called alopecia. At the awards show, her hair was very, very short, almost as though it had just barely started to grow back. Rock referred to her as “G.I. Jane.” Almost immediately, Will Smith jumped up from his seat, walked to the stage and punched Rock in the mouth. He then returned to his seat where he yelled profanities at Rock.

Some people claim it was staged, but it looked very real from our perspective. The left side of Rock’s mouth seemed to immediately begin to swell, and he seemed genuinely stunned.

I started thinking about this incident today as I reflected on the above quote by Voltaire. I firmly believe that whatever life throws our way, how we react is always a choice.

The past few years, bad behavior seems to have exponentially increased. It’s everywhere you look – it’s on social media, it’s in government, it’s in schools, it’s even at church. Some days it feels like everyone has lost their minds which reminds me of another quote by Voltaire:

“If there’s life on other planets, then the earth is the universe’s insane asylum.”

Good grief. He’s right. Has nothing improved in over 300 years? How do things get better? What does it take for us to behave better? Perhaps we need to go back even further in history, to the words of a man who lived over 2,000 years ago.

“But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you...”

Who do we profess to be? Do our actions match our words? Do we realize what it means when we profess ourselves to be Christian?

I remember listening to Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson one day when he was asked whether he believed in God. He answered, “Who would have the audacity to claim that they believed in God if they examined the way they lived? Who would dare say that? To believe in a Christian sense – to actually  have the audacity to claim that – means you live it out fully and that’s an unbearable task in some sense... It doesn’t mean to state it, it means to act it out. And unless you act it out, you should be careful about claiming it. And so I’ve never been comfortable saying anything other than I try to act as if God exists because God only knows what you could be if you truly believed.”