Bishop Peter Ingham’s Easter Message 2012
Jesus Christ frequently mixed with those considered to be on the fringes of society but he always held them to account for their actions. However, he never condemned them as persons and consistently showed compassion and forgiveness. Easter shouts this message!
In today’s world with social networking such as Facebook and Twitter, it is very easy to hold someone to account instantly for their actions. This is one of the benefits of a free society with access to such technology. But there’s a worrying trend surfacing in Australia at the moment where publically holding someone to account for their actions quickly turns into attacking the person and not the action. All you need is a few followers on Twitter and you can assassinate someone in less than 140 characters with unspeakable vitriol and hate.
It’s particularly disturbing that in attacking the person and not their actions, the dignity of the person is destroyed. Furthermore, there is rarely any scope given for compassion and forgiveness. We are fostering a culture of condemnation. Is this the society we want to live in?
Sadly, the internet is not the only place where such destructive behaviour is occurring. In recent months, some of our leaders have been engaging in attacks on each other that go well beyond “playing the man and not the ball.”
Our Diocese recently released a new anti-bullying policy and program. This has been a priority for the Catholic Education Office so that each child in our schools is assured a safe learning environment. However, what hope do our children have of learning how to treat others with dignity and forgiveness when we are not modelling behaviour that is respectful of each other?
But, as Easter people, we are not without hope! We are made in the image and likeness of God, and despite our human weakness, there is an innate goodness in each of us. Jesus knew this. He never drew away from challenging wrong and injustice, but always looked for the good in people and called them to the fullness of life (cf, John 10:10). It’s not too late for us to avoid this culture of condemnation. We can be a society of respect, compassion and forgiveness if only we can start treating each other the way we deserve to be treated – as a person who really counts.