Lia Lewis is a member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Westfield, NJ. In addition to being a reader during Orthros and Holy Week, she is on the Fellowship and the Greek Festival Committees. She has a Master's of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She's also the author/editor of www.Orthodoxchickwithablog.com.
“Of all religions, the Christian should…inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.” (Voltaire)
Bullying is an anti-social behavior that targets the “weak” and “not so cool.” For the first time in a long time, bullying is considered a serious societal problem. In the past, bullied school children were told to “ignore,” or “stand up for themselves,” as well as other types of “encouragement” given by parents and teachers to bullied children. Many times the bullied children just endured the torture because they were afraid that if they “ratted” on the bully, the consequences would be more severe.
In the Fox-TV show, The Gifted, we meet Andy and Lauren Stryker (siblings) who are Mutants. Lauren had known for awhile that she was a mutant, but decided to keep it quiet so she could retain a some semblance of a normal life. Andy learns he’s a mutant at a school dance. It seems that for awhile, he’s been bullied by some of the older boys. These older boys decide to “up their game” because his parents met with the principal.
In one of the scenes in episode one, Andy is being tortured. Because of this intense abuse, Andy’s mutant powers manifest. He brings down the school gym and ends up hurting these bullies. Andy and his sister, Lauren, because they are Mutants, go on the run with their parents. It seems having mutant abilities is illegal. Mutants are arrested and jailed and/or experimented on. The Strykers join up with the Mutant Underground and during the course of season one, are accepted as part of the group as well as work with the Mutant Underground. The Mutant Underground strives to regain their lost rights as citizens because of a 9/11-type event (referred to in the show as 7/15) that forced the government to restrict their human and civil rights.
People, especially children, are bullied by their peers. In fact, there are cyberbullying cases in which children have committed suicide because they can’t deal with the bullying anymore. Bullied people feel trapped in their situation. If they tell someone, retribution from the bully is a real possibility. If they keep it to themselves, the bullied person is pushed to the point of violence against their peers (i.e., the recent school shootings in Parkland, FL and Santa Fe, TX).
Does our reality reflect the tolerance shown by the Mutants on The Gifted? No, it does not. Unfortunately, we are in a time that is just as vitriolic as the 1900s.
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right. We’ve become intolerant, judgmental, and hateful to all those around us are different from us and our values. Instead of celebrating individuality and free will, we bully them because they are different, and, therefore, not worthy of God’s Love.
How do we know what God thinks of other people? In the apophatic theology, “God is infinite and incomprehensible and all that is comprehensible about Him is his infinity and incomprehensibility.” (On the Orthodox Faith, St. John of Damascus). So your guess about what God thinks is as good as mine. But there are two things that we do know about God: He loves us so much that a) His Only Begotten Son gave up His life for us, b) He wants us to love Him, and c) He created us to be unique.
If He loves us, why don’t we follow His example? Jesus Christ came to save the sinners and not the righteous. He also knows that as fallen humans, we are flawed: “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery…and they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery'” (John 8:3-6). Under Mosaic law, the punishment for adultery was death by stoning. Jesus Christ ponders this for a bit and finally responds with “‘let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her'” (John 8:7). At which point, the Pharisees left the woman with Jesus Christ and fled.
In order for us to not be like the scribes, Pharisees, and normal humans (The Gifted), we must show unconditional Love and unconditional tolerance to our brothers and sisters: “yes, Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not judge my brothers and sisters” (from the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian).
If our actions towards others continue to be intolerant and judgmental, aren’t we turning our backs on God if we behave like the scribes, Pharisees, and humans in The Gifted? Wouldn’t it be better to be tolerant, loving, and non-judgmental like Jesus Christ was with the adulterous woman? Maybe we need to love others like Jesus Christ loves and not as the humans in The Gifted: “…‘and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ [and] ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these’” (Mark 12:30-31).
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