Social media and the evening news are both making me tired.
Today, I hit my limit.
A friend posted a link announcing the president had signed an executive order correcting a difficult, complicated, and sad policy.
(I’m not taking a politically partisan position here—just making an observation.)
Her post acknowledged the Executive Order stopping family separations. She simply wrote “Thank God!” with a link to a major news outlet.
The comments that followed made me cringe. Instead of acknowledging something positive had occurred, comments ranged from “Trump will still get criticized” to “How is the genius planning to reunite the children with their parents?” One person wrote, “So he is now fixing an ‘issue’ started under the Obama admin.” Another wrote, “There is nothing to celebrate…this was a chance for Trump to show off.”
Let me say again, I am not taking a partisan position here. The point I’m making is that as a nation, we’ve lost the ability to discuss anything even remotely related to politics, civics, or culture in general.
Public discourse has deteriorated to public discoarse.
I’m sure you’ve seen and heard some of these quotes:
- “You can’t fix stupid.”
- “I’m unfriending anyone who supports this.”
- “USA. Like it or leave it.”
Do I have strong opinions on civic, moral, and political issues?
You bet I do. Most of us do.
But when 50% of our nation appears to despise the other 50%, I’m reminded of Jesus’ observation in Matthew 12:25 (ESV), “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”
Celebrities have called for the death of the president. Supporters of the current administration vilify his critics.
The two sides are talking over each other.
At each other.
But they’re not talking to each other.
Allow me to amend that last sentence: We’re not talking to each other. Because it’s not us versus them. We’re all us.
The people who voted for the other side (whatever “the other side” is for you), are the same people who you:
- grew up with
- went to school with
- attend church with
- or share DNA with.
Have we come to the point where we cut people out of our life—or our social media feeds—simply because we disagree with them?
If so, we’re choosing to live in an echo chamber, hearing only what affirms our preconceived opinions. Demonizing the other side instead of seeing them as people like us who have different beliefs.
How can we hope to persuade others if we’re preoccupied with vilifying them?
And for those who are Christians, how can we follow Christ’s command to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 ESV) if we’re obsessed with demeaning them?
As the originator of the post I mentioned above noted:
“At some point, we begin to sound like nothing more than clanging cymbals.”
Hmmm…clanging cymbals. That’s how the apostle Paul describes us when we speak or act without love (I Corinthians 13:1).
So the next time you and I hear someone we disagree with, will we determine to:
- Converse instead of criticize?
- Discuss instead of demean?
- Persuade instead of pummel?
- Dialogue instead of demonize?
And if the “other side” refuses to dialogue, will we at least resist the urge to vilify?
Most importantly, will we purpose to love instead of loathe?