Today I am starting a fast. Not the normal “no food, no alcohol, no sugar, no (fill in the blank)” but a “no criticism” fast. I am going to take a break from reading, listening to, watching, and perhaps more importantly, engaging in anything of a critical nature about another person. Now I am not talking about the normal feelings of anger and disappointment that naturally arise if privy to some deplorable act of wanton evil or hatred but I plan to be intentional regarding my exposure to the news as well.
What is fueling this withdrawal? Is it that I have grown so weary, indignant, and even jaded by the streams, no rivers, of hate and vitriol that flow, almost uncontrollably, from every news outlet, fake or legit? Well, that is certainly part of it. However, what really makes me sick, right now at least, is me. I am making myself weary, bothered, indignant, and jaded. Perhaps it is that I have been swept up by that delicious tide of judgment-fueled discontent that can feel, at times, quite pleasurable. It’s actually alarming to think that it can often be pleasurable to go on a rant that is so ridiculously self-righteous, so ludricously sanctimonious that, if I saw what I was thinking in print or, even worse, watched myself uttering these things as some talking head on social media or a news show, I would be shocked. Shocked! The irony of it all is that I have become one of those people that catalyzes my own ranting! Helpless, I tell you. Just plain helpless. Well, not exactly, but it sometimes feels that way.
It even goes deeper, actually. I have recently appalled myself at just how unrestrained and indulgent I can be when in most areas of my life I exhibit a fairly good level of self-discipline. Not about to catalogue the good, the bad, and the ugly, as it's none of anyone else’s business (for the most part) but the fact is that I have come face-to-face with the hideous figure of myself as a person who has such a vast array of short-comings in so many fundamental areas that it is actually silly for me to criticize someone else for, well, just about anything. I am dropping the stones and determined to start with the figure staring back at me from the mirror and not concern myself with anyone or anything else in this regard. This is not meant to be some overly self-indulgent exercise in the sense that I am simply sinking deeper into the muck that is me as if more "Lake Johnny" swims are not potentially problematic since that water can be both choppy and murky. Rather, the goal is that by avoiding expending as little energy as possible on the failings, perceived or otherwise, of other people and instead bringing to bear whatever strength, resolve, wherewithal, and effort I have into dealing with my own putrid lack of charity and self-control in certain areas, I hope, and actually think it will, result in me becoming a more pleasant, agreeable, and helpful person. At least that’s my desire. Pray for me, please. I need it.