In recent days, it’s become a lot less enjoyable checking my social media pages. Fun, loving and interesting comments and images have been flooded out by words of anger and hostility. The topics invariably are about politics, religion, sexuality, and animal rights. I find myself not quite knowing how to respond. Part of me feels something akin to a sense of horror. What has happened to the goodness of humanity? Why is everyone so angry? Many of the posts are correct in revealing things that are not right, good and honorable. Sadly, many of these things have been going on for a long time, however, does the fact that they can be posted, mean that they should be? Is all this awareness doing any good, or is it only making everyone angrier?
Has the quest for what is good become lost in the battle that ensues?
I find myself standing back and watching. It’s not that I don’t have opinions. I have many. But, I can’t help but watch individuals and communities become polarized. This is most obvious in the digital space. Somehow, by not standing face-to-face, people feel bolder and are more willing to put edge into comments, or simply share a hostile article and allow it to do the work of expressing a viewpoint.
Safe places have become battlefields
Some of the very places we have been encouraged to be vulnerable and authentic have become a battlefield. As one looks a little closer, you can see the sidelines are crowded by people who are afraid to step in or possibly are too shell-shocked to respond to what is taking place. The topics that trigger anger are often short lived until another headline takes over. In some of these cases, I wonder if people even know what they are angry at. They march in anger, they hurt people; the ones who have a different opinion than themselves. This is all done while declaring that all should be loved.
Freedom of speech is met with silence
In recent years, openness and the expression of one’s viewpoint have resulted in admiration for one’s courage. This is no longer the case. While some have become vocal, many have gone silent.
It has almost become dangerous to express an opinion. People fear setting themselves up to be attacked. The very act of clicking like on a comment or post can result in one stepping into the fray of the battle and becoming open game. It’s become a huge risk to speak up. In a nation that celebrates freedom of speech, many are going silent.
Practice a love that truly transforms
Hostility and hatred cannot create love. Love is the result of love. When we truly care about people and show love to the very ones who have opposite opinions than we do, then we become a loving nation.
We can change things. We can still some of the storm, at least in our own corner of the world. Each of us can learn to show love to those who are different. This is precisely what the people are crying for. They are just going about it all wrong.
Let’s remember, “Above all else, they will know us by our love.”