At this point, it almost does not matter what the content was of my letter to editor of our local paper was that incensed this man so. Something about facebook - I posted the letter in a facebook parents' forum - makes people say things I would like to believe they never ever would if they met someone face to face. While this is a painful experience, I also believe we are, as our Holy Father tells us, called to participate in the public square. My bias is for more civic engagement, which is why I wrote the letter. When he lashed out, I encouraged the angry stranger to do the same, to add his voice to the conversation about our local public schools because we need all perspectives to arrive at something resembling the truth and the common good.
I have friends all over the political spectrum and from a wide range belief and disbelief. I do not mind disagreeing with people about education policy or anything else. I do not mind changing my mind when presented with a new set of facts.
What struck me the most is this stranger called me "spiteful." I have plenty of faults. I would happily send him a list. But spite and revenge never have been part of who I am in this world.
God help us all, me included. As I approach the celebration of Christ's birth I understand all too well why God felt compelled to send his only son to us. We need all the help we can muster. We were - every last lousy one of us - called into being from utter nothingness. I need to remember that. Maybe this man is a gift disguised as a burden. Maybe he was put in front of me to remind me of my utter dependence on the One who made me.
I wish my handful of readers a blessed Christmas season. If you can spare a minute, please send up a prayer for me and the angry stranger who also is my neighbor. We sure could use it.