We all know the name “Kyle Rittenhouse” by now. Only a few teenagers have become as famous as him, in modern times. He is probably as well known as Greta Thunberg, who made a speech at the United Nations, and she was invited at the age of fifteen. Kyle Rittenhouse walked alone, into a dangerous riot, with a loaded gun, and he was seventeen.
If he was my son, and I saw him walking out with a gun, I would call him back and tell him to stay home. I am not choosing sides in the arguments about his trial, I just think some things are too dangerous for a boy acting alone, with a gun.
Apparently he shot three people, and two of them died. We know there was a trial by jury, and Kyle was acquitted on all charges. This has produced and explosion of arguments, and much celebrating on one side and intense anger on the other side.
So, what should we, think? I am speaking as a Christian.
My best advice, and my best practice is; follow the news about this story and stay out of the arguments. A few angry words, at this time, could create enemies for a long time. There is a concept in the Bible called “wisdom” and this is a good time to revive the practice. “When there are many words, wrongdoing is unavoidable, but one who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)
A jury found Kyle Rittenhouse innocent on all counts, and now the court of public opinion is in session. People everywhere are taking sides and arguing. The arguments seem to be mostly about politics. Kyle is a symbol of something that people love or hate, depending on their political opinions. The jury trial was about one man and some specific things that he did. The trial by public opinion is about something much larger than one teenage old boy:
The case has stirred up a political hornets’ nest.
Another hornets’ nest is happening where I live. Pastors in several Christian churches have been arrested and taken to jail, for not following COVID restrictions. For some reason, this is very common where I live. At least one of the arrested pastors likes to use the word “Gestapo” when the police take him in. He has been arrested more than once:
Lawyers have argued that a Public Health Order is not a law, and the authorities cannot arrest people and take them to jail, for only breaking a health order.
I have another argument. This is a clear case of “We don’t play the game, but we make the rules.” The people who gave the arrest orders are probably not very religious, I guess. We are not living in medieval Europe, and the pastor is not a priest with complete control. Anyone who goes to church knows that.
In a church, the person who speaks into the microphone, is not the owner. When I go to a church, I own the place as much as the pastor. If the rules are applied fairly, everyone who attends a prohibited church service should also be arrested, especially the members and the governing board. Imagine going to a church service, and inviting a friend. That might make you a criminal, in some places.
One person can be arrested as a symbol for the whole group.
The problem for the pastors is the same problem that Kyle Rittenhouse has. One person can be a symbol of something much larger, and that larger political issue can be a hornets’ nest. In modern politics, it is common to be labelled as ‘one of them.’
If you are wondering, the courts seem to agree with me. The legal cases against those pastors are not going well.
So, are you ‘one of them?’ Am I?
I have found that my best defence is to be me. I recommend that for you too.
I make choices, and I have hobbies. For example, I was a language teacher, and now I have a personal interest. My nieces think this is strange and funny, but every Tuesday, I join an online meeting and speak to other people in an invented language. That’s right, I speak Esperanto. My nieces think this is hilarious and they asked if that was the only way I could find friends; learn a made-up language so I can join a meeting.
I have no defence, but I made a choice and now I have a hobby. Apparently, the financier George Soros also knows that invented language, let me throw that out. And I think my nieces still like their funny uncle.
If you don’t know what Esperanto is, the Internet has too much information.
Also, I was raised in a strict, church-going family, and I was one of them, a member of that tribe. As an adult, I made a personal decision to follow Jesus. That was a strange thing, parallel to my childhood experience, but different. I made my own decision about me. I did not accept the label, I made my own decision. I have lost contact with most of the people from my childhood, but I keep going in the direction that I have chosen, for me.
A man named Jesus spoke to each one of us and not to a collective tribe: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) “You”, not ‘all of you.’
I recommend that for everyone. The modern world will steer you into a tribal identity, and then love you or hate you because of their label.
Make your own decisions, and live the life that you were given. Only take responsibility for you.
And be careful where you go with a loaded gun.