Hell has many names, most are our personal creation. We live in a world shaped by our choices, reflecting the true values we hold within our souls. Living in the contrast between California and New York has given me the opportunity to see things from many different perspectives. The irony lies in how familiar Hell is, no matter which perspective one takes. Regardless of the name, Hell has some distinct marks which seem to transcend every view.
One mark is revealed in how Hell revolves around the individual. Everything is self centric. Self is the God which every resident, idea, and action focuses on and revolves around. “I” is king. Community is merely a vehicle on which I can ride to glory, indulgence, and experience.
Another feature of Hell centers on exploitation. Any and everything is up for use. Bodies – yours and theirs – along with principles. These resources feed a fire of enjoyment, experience, and success. Result explains and justifies each action. Respect has left on vacation. Honor is a myth which never stepped within Hell’s gates.
Also, “Sheol [Hell] developed a huge appetite, swallowing people nonstop! Big people and little people alike down that gullet, to say nothing of all the drunks. The down-and-out on a par with the high-and-mighty, windbag boasters crumpled, flaccid as a punctured bladder.” (Isaiah 5.14, 15) Every swimming in the same soup, sinking to the lowest shared denominator.
As frequently as you see Hell in New York you also find residents of Compassion, Grace, and Community. We live in a messy, shared community. Even as they overlap there is no shared ground. Your home, heart, place of resting, and path reside in one camp or the other. There is no “neutral zone”. People see New York as Hell. I see it as a community under siege, two camps warring for dominance. I’ve rested in Hell. I hate it there. Today is a one filled with my desire to be in Compassion’s camp. Compassion's as near and far as you want it to be from where you are at this moment.
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