Our nation is in a fragile state right now. The amount of anger, hate, destruction, hurt, and controversy swirling around is unlike anything I’ve seen in my adult lifetime. It scares me, saddens me, and burdens my heart when I feel helpless to do anything about it.
In reality what we all need most is the redemptive work of Christ in our hearts. Only He can transform our hardness of heart, our anger at “the other side,” our injustice, our unrest. We can talk of and work toward solutions, but in the end, if we don’t have Jesus, real, long-lasting change won’t happen.
But also: He calls believers to live in the midst of a broken, sinful, hurting world and to show by the way they live their lives that there is hope. And that hope is in Him. We are called to do something. We are called to make a difference. We are called to be lights in the dark places.
And one way we can do that is to become more educated about what is really going on and what the core values of the matters are.
I will fully admit that I have not been great about this most of my adult life. News, politics, and elections were all things that I approached casually without finding out much about them. I felt like I had far more interesting things to do with my life, and I skated around current events, knowing what my basic values were as far as those things went.
But I’ve been brought to a place in my life where that isn’t good enough anymore. And I have challenged myself to do something about it.
The wake-up call has come within the past few months when I have become increasingly alarmed at what I’ve been seeing on social media. It seems that people can form opinions based on a handful of memes, a viral Facebook post, or biased news sources. And so much of what I saw didn’t sit well with me. There were things I just couldn’t bring myself to agree with, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.
And I also didn’t feel educated enough about the issue to speak up myself. I felt I might end up saying something that wasn’t true or that was only based on my emotional reactions to social media feeds. But deep down, I felt frustrated over the lack of reason and logic that was coming out of some posts about panics, pandemics, and protests. The last two aren’t necessarily “bad” in and of themselves, it was just that some news and posts about them felt illogical.
So when faced with this feeling of unrest, I found I could do one of two things:
- Go on feeling angry and upset over things I couldn’t explain, including the fact that I felt like I couldn’t speak my objections without being villainized for them OR
- Educate myself about the issues, searching for truth based on reason and my values, which would give me the courage to stand up for them, even if others disagreed.
And as I’ve begun this journey, I have tried to listen to both sides of the arguments. I don’t want to exclusively listen to one type of news source over another, although I will end up listening to one more than the other. And as I do, I try to see the values and the contradictions that the “other side” has, because it certainly has both.
I understand the underlying values behind certain strong opinions. I see where that person is coming from, and I choose to believe they have the right intentions, even if I feel like their path of logic ends up contradicting itself or leads to a conclusion that I disagree with.
But I try my best not to “villainize” or stereotype those who hold opposing views from me, for herein lies one of our deepest problems as a nation – people aren’t willing to listen for one minute to a different perspective without getting angry about it. They don’t understand how someone could think differently from them without being an awful person.
At the bottom of it, I most likely share some of their same core values. And yet, I can still disagree with them because I might logically look at the matter another way, and the values might lead me in a different direction, based on what I believe the Bible says about it. Does this make me a bad person? Aside from my inherent sin nature, I would hope that I am also coming from a place of love and not actively trying to hurt another person.
If someone felt otherwise, I hope they would be able to approach me privately and ask to discuss further with me – which I would be happy to do. I might not have all the right answers, but I’m certainly on a path to know my beliefs and values better.
Wouldn’t we have a stronger society if more people sought to intentionally educate themselves about current topics instead of passively taking whatever looks good online?
Wouldn’t we have more thoughtful discussions if we learned to say things like, “I respectfully disagree with you and here’s why,” “I don’t have enough information on that yet to have an opinion,” “I think differently than you, but I still love you,” and “Can you tell me more about why you think that way?”
Wouldn’t we have a more powerful nation of voices if we searched for values based on truth and reason, not just on emotions and popular trends?
Let’s learn to stop censoring and blocking things we don’t like online like a child sticking his fingers in his ears and saying “la-la-la-la.” Let’s learn to allow different viewpoints to exist alongside each other, listen to one another, and see the worth of the actual person behind the online post.
It seems a difficult fight. But it also seems worth it to work towards healing in our nation.
I’m ready to jump in. And I pray that you might join me.
Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash.