It has been a sad few days since the Orlando shooting at the Pulse gay bar. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to address the intersecting issues that arose in the aftermath of the shooting. The issues around gun control, rising Islamophobia, the apparent self-hatred of the shooter, and the ways in which people are talking about (or not talking about) the issues at hand.
As I’ve been thinking about this, a set of verses from Matthew come to mind:
Matthew 7:15-20 says:
15 ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will know them by their fruits.
Now of course, these verses are often used by conservative Christians to beat people over the head with, and tell people they are going to hell. But when you really read the gospels, and listen to what Jesus said, you can’t mistake what these fruits really are. The fruits are acts of kindness and compassion to people no matter who they are, nonviolence, welcoming the stranger, and taking care of the poor, hungry, sick and imprisoned.
And I keep thinking about our politicians and public figures whose only fruits are fear, hatred and delusion, even as they speak platitudes, and send their “thoughts and prayers” while sowing more fear and hatred. How do we hold them accountable for these fruits? How do we make it clear that we will accept nothing but words and actions that decrease violence and increase compassion for everyone in our country, no matter who they are, or where they are from? I don’t have any answers immediately, but maybe, sort of like the far from perfect “Politifact” we need something that can measure and publicize the fruits of those who wield political, economic and social power in this country.