“In the same way the tongue is a small member, and yet has great pretentions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna.” (James 2:5-6)
This passage struck me because it can be interpreted as a rebuke of un-Hebraic leadership in our post covid crisis political/cultural moment. A small untruth from an unbridled tongue can indeed set a community ablaze! These “fires” have caused serious and enduring divisions between literal and figurative neighbors. Neighbors that handled (and continue to handle) covid restrictions and concerns differently tend to have little empathy for each other- a lack of understanding of how underlying beliefs impact behavior. Adhering to or rebelling against covid restrictions had a ritualistic quasi-religious significance for many (Christians and non-Christians alike), and lots of us tried to quote unquote force conversions of our neighbors, instead of approaching the conflict in a more Hebraic way.