By niki turner
I read a great quote this week by 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that seems more applicable now than maybe ever before. Nietzsche wrote, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
It’s so easy to reflect the same kind of treatment we get from others, even when—maybe especially when—that treatment is hurtful. The angrier and more offended we become by someone’s bad behavior, the more likely we are to respond in kind.
For example, a social media friend this week who is passionate about her political positions and regularly rails against the coarse language and insults tossed out on Twitter, dove into what had been a very civil discourse on my feed by calling a young man (who had been nothing but polite) an “idiot.”
I’ve watched this person transform over the last year from a sweet, compassionate, prayerful Christian to a raging, ranting angry woman who is quick to insult and belittle others with different opinions. She has stared too long into the abyss. I feel sorry for her.
Some of us will face monsters of our own this season in the form of difficult relationships with friends and family members. If that’s you, keep in mind that the way to defeat a monster is not by becoming one yourself, whether in person (where most of us tend to at least pretend to have manners), or on social media, where it seems to be “no holds barred.”
Look away from the abyss and look into the light. This season, more than any other, is filled with reasons to smile and be kind, even if the monsters are out.
Here’s wishing you all—subscribers, advertisers, single copy buyers, library readers, online edition aficionados—a blessed and peaceful Christmas. From all of us to all of you, may your homes and hearts be filled with light, life and love.