By: The Reverend Justo González, II, M.Div., M.S.S.A, M.A.P.M.
Guapos y guapas talk a lot of smack. They talk about everything you’ve done. They criticize your coming and going. They make sure to let everyone know how wrong you are, what a bad person you are and point out every flaw about you and others. Of course, they never talk about their issues and the shadow sides of their lives.
They problem with these folks is that EVERYTHING is said behind your back or mine. Besides they are “good God fearing Christians”. We all know that as Christians and Latin@s we are polite and would never say anything to your face. Oh no, good God fearing people talk smack behind your back never to your face. To speak about another behind their back is morally and ethically acceptable to some. I don’t buy it. It’s an immature response to life’s issues. Time to grow up, mi gente.
I think it rather cowardly to talk about others behind their back when biblically we are called to address things one on one with our brothers and sisters (Matthew 18:15-16). We may differ in how we respond to things but dialogue gets us closer to meeting each other with dignity and respect at the table of encounter.
The question then is who is my brother and sister? Indeed, when Cain murdered his brother Abel and God calls him out he resorts to being guapo and talking with an attitude. The murderer, Abel, says to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper? (Genesis 4:8-10)
Cain put his guapo and attitudinal foot in his BIG boca. The whole point is that we are our brothers and sisters keepers. We are intimately connected to each other and that in spite of being guapo or guapa we need each other. Those foolish people who think they are islands unto themselves are simply living a delusional fantasy. Whether mighty or strong they will learn that we are connected to each other. Life will teach us all this lesson with time. ¡Somos familia aunque no lo creemos!
Are we not murders too, at times? Haven’t we been the ones who have taken it upon ourselves to murder the reputation and credibility of others? Haven’t we questioned the decisions of others to the point of being nasty and minding their business rather than our own? Haven’t we taken shots at those we don’t like? Are not we the ones who plant seeds of uncertainty and provide the fertilizer necessary for doubt and hated to take hold?
Of course, most of us will say, “no, not me. Yo soy buena gente.” Somehow we have been able to deceive ourselves of the harm we do to others and ourselves when we don’t engage with the person/s we have issues with in life. We become self-righteous. “They are responsible.” “You made me do it!” “Él o ella me lo hizo y me las tiene que pagar.”
We allow our anger to take root within ourselves and then go into nasty mode. We then begin to destroy others rather than looking inward. If we dared to look inward we would be able to see the root of the pain and anger within. We could begin to see more clearly what the real issues are and address them with those identified as “the culprits”.
However, many say, “you make me feel mad” or “you did this to me”. The reality is that NO ONE can make us feel anything. You have to give them YOUR power to do so and even then YOU feel what YOU choose. You can’t make anyone feel mad. They get mad. You can’t make anyone sad. Individuals decide that themselves. And, yes, of course there is always an exception. The point is that we have POWER and if we claim our power we will be in control of our own lives rather than allowing others to push some buttons and get the response that they desire. In essence, we give them control and power over us by our response. Let NO ONE claim your power. It’s yours.
In other words, guapo y guapa deal with your own stuff. Admit that you are hurting and look at the pains of the past that have made you the man or woman that you are today. Deal with it in healthy ways. Find your healing and people who will work with you to deal with your anger or pain in ways that bring life giving energy to you and others. If you do then you’ll be less likely to feel the need to mind the business of others or enjoy the twisted “fun” of messing with the lives of others.
Why not seek right relationships with others? To be “good” one with the other it takes courage. It’s scary and difficult to go to someone and say, “I need to talk to you” and then speak your truth. Some will be able to listen and engage. Others will not be able to do so and will get angry and lash out. The response of the other is not the most important aspect of the engagement. It will not feel good to be rejected or to have another lash out.
However, the power of engaging another is that YOU claim YOUR POWER. Whether they listen or not you have chosen to be an adult with an adult response of self-reflection, dialogue and engagement. This allow YOU to take control of your life.
Some things in life are not about others but rather about ourselves. Just remember hate is easy and forgiveness takes a lot of work. You have choices in life. You can choose to be a healthy individual and engage others RESPECTFULLY even when they cause hurt. Likewise, you can choose to shut down, go to war and destroy the other with your tongue, your actions and your backbiting spirit. Who will you choose to be?
The Reverend Justo González, II, is the Pastor of El Nuevo Camino United Church of Christ. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spanish Services are at 11:45 a.m. weekly and English services are at 10:00 a.m. Join us.