“The world is difficult, and we are all breakable. So just be kind.” ~Michael Bliss
I’m a human.
That means I’m allowed
To have an opinion
Just like everybody else.
Sometimes I’m right.
Sometimes I’m wrong.
There are facts
To support both sides –
And we get to choose our side.
But what we also need to choose
Is kindness to the person
On the other side
With whom we disagree.
Just because their opinion is different
Doesn’t mean I should shame them,
Or belittle them.
I shouldn’t dehumanize them
Just because I don’t know how
They could disagree with me
When I feel so right.
I should be able to dialogue
About my differences with someone,
And still tell them I love them
Even if we disagree at the end.
Because we’re human.
We need the space
To have our opinions freely
And the space to be loved despite them.
I don’t often share my opinion on social media about current events, politics, or controversial things. That doesn’t mean I don’t have them. I’ve just found that it’s so easy to post a simplistic soundbite from one side or the other that emotionally triggers people and causes us to forget about the real humans on the other side of the screens reading it. It leads us to be unkind in ways that we wouldn’t be in person.
Truthfully sometimes I feel too scared to be open about what I believe or think on controversial issues. Because like I said, people can be thoughtlessly mean online, and my soul flinches away from the cutting edge that words can have – words that I see others post that I don’t want directed at me. I want to be seen and known and valued, just as we all do.
Sometimes I don’t feel informed enough about an issue to have an opinion. And I don’t want to click “re-post” on something that I haven’t really looked into – or that leads me to think something that may not really be true. I don’t want this to be an excuse for not having opinions on things, because I think we should – well-informed, well-read, well-rounded opinions.
My greatest fear for our country right now is not the disease spreading, not the debate over whether to mask up or not, and not the political agendas. It’s that people are losing the ability to think for themselves and make informed decisions.
I fear that people are so quick to believe whatever the mainstream media tells them that we’ll soon have a country full of automatons written about in science fiction novels.
I fear that people are losing the right to have opinions that differ from the mainstream media, because websites are quick to take down things that they feel are “threatening” (regardless of other violent or sexual content they allow to stay up).
And I fear that people have lost the ability to be respectful to those they disagree with. They can’t allow others to have their own opinions with grace and love – because they themselves are living in fear of what those opinions are.
As Harry S. Truman said in 1950, “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
We already have too much fear going on in this country. We cannot continue to act in fear of others’ opinions and beliefs by shaming them or laughing at them. We cannot continue to flaunt our own opinions pridefully, belittling those who disagree as some kind of “uneducated tyrant.”
What if, instead of posting another meme or tirade on the Internet, we actually sat down to talk to someone who had a different opinion from us and heard them out? What if we chose not to interrupt or argue, but just listened? And what if they did the same for us? And what if we ignored our racing hearts and our minds spinning all our arguments and just looked them in the face and said, “I love you no matter what?”
What if we gave them the space to be human and received it back? What if we stood up for what we believed in, without fear because we knew we’d be allowed to do so in peace?
I have a lot of unpopular opinions as a conservative Christian. And I know you might disagree with me. But thankfully, we live in a country that allows us to both have our own opinions and express them freely – most of the time. If we start tearing each other down, right now when we need each other the most, that could change. And I would consider that a tragedy.
Please – have an opinion, take a stand, hold strong to your beliefs. But please also be gracious while you do, be willing to hear new information, be willing to look deeper into issues, and be willing to allow others to disagree with you.
Jesus Himself was bold about calling sinners to repentance – but He was also willing to eat with tax collectors and prostitutes.
We can follow His lead. We can do both. We can have our convictions and love those who are different from us. Let us do so in the coming days and weeks with grace and love.