Quick to Speak, Quick to Anger

A Rorschach test for our times could not be more ready made than the one which surfaced this weekend from Washington, D.C.: a smirking young man in a MAGA hat face to face with a shorter, older Native American man beating a drum.

Cue your rush to judgment.

The youth smirks because he’s disrespectful, bigoted, and full of a sense of superiority…

Or, the Indian is just another in-your-face activist seeking out, and finding, confrontation–a grown man who should know better.

At a Bible Study Tuesday night, we read from James: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” I would say that this is wisdom which applies to followers of any religion, not just Christianity.

If you’re interested in hearing a whole lot of tongues with very unwisely loosed reins, from a whole host of people who should know better, and if you’re interested in putting this ridiculous Rorschach test image in context and abandoning your rush to judgment, watch this long clip of the incident.

Consider also Elder Nathan Phillips’ own words describing the incident: “It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’ ” Phillips recalled. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way, and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”

So that’s Phillips’ perspective. He left the area where the Native American rally was being held and chose a path directly through the clearly loud and boisterous Pro-Life rally.

We will probably never hear the young man’s version of the incident, though I wish we could. I can imagine a thousand reasons a smirk might cross his face as he held both his ground and his tongue.

What I really wish is two things: First, that Phillips and this young man might have the chance to meet again and talk with one another, getting to know each other as human beings.

Second, that we would all learn to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Being an American is becoming so tiresome.

About Greg Wright

I have worn many hats as a writer and editor over the years. Unlike my scholarly and journalistic work from the "old days" at Hollywood Jesus, Past the Popcorn, or SeaTac Blog, the writing here is of a more overtly personal and spiritual nature. I hope it provokes you as much as it provokes me.
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One Response to Quick to Speak, Quick to Anger

  1. Anna says:

    Greg, I saw another video of the scene from a different perspective. Some black men were yelling and mocking the Indian veteran and he walked in among the white kids on the steps, so the mocking and yelling was directed at the kids too. They thought the drumming was for them, and clapped and sang along with the veteran. It fit in with their chant, I guess. There was no intentional disrespect or mocking from the kids. Not from the wider and longer view. I think you are right, we have preconceived expectations.

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