High on everyone’s mind these days are current events and the unfortunate division happening between political lines. One reason I believe so much angst has developed is Social Media! While social media can be a wonderful tool of connection and conversation, it can also be a place to hurl insults and use negative labeling all while hiding in the comfort of your own home. That behavior gets us nowhere! On a daily basis, between Facebook and Twitter alone, there are numerous posts that “go viral,” which means they are being shared by millions of people. The majority of these daily viral comments, pictures and videos are very divisive. They state an opinion and attack the dignity of anyone who doesn’t agree with their particular stance. This style of communication fails to promote peaceful dialogue, and no matter what your cause, peaceful dialogue is the only thing that will bring about positive change.
One comment is that people have become too sensitive, that we get offended by every little thing. But, the truth is, our nasty attitudes towards one another does nothing more than fodder division and we should be offended by division! When I was growing up, I remember thinking that the majority of people were polite. That overall, folks were simply nice. Remember the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Well, I’m afraid we’ve lost sight of that wisdom. It seems to be more commonplace today that if we disagree with something, we take to social media to express our feelings. Don’t get me wrong, that, in and of itself, is actually wonderful. Social media can be an extraordinary tool for advocacy. But, the problem lies in how easily we ostracize others with our passions and opinions. By all means, we are free to express (and I believe we must) our beliefs on abortion, immigration, race relations, education reform, veterans and war… but as soon as we demoralize another person, our true message is lost. It becomes part of the vast pool of discrimination that divides us as people. And divided, we accomplish nothing.
There is no denying that our world is diverse. Each of us have different identities and opinions, and this diversity is what makes our world exciting and life-giving. In fact, diversity is what empowers future generations, just as it did each of our’s. But as people of faith, we need to consider the impact of allowing our diversity to draw lines in the sand and separate humanity. It’s like salt. Salt is what makes a lot of bland food taste better. We need salt as we need diversity, it makes our world bearable. Imagine if every part of the country was just like Northern Minnesota—it sure wouldn’t be fun to travel, now would it? Likewise, we, as individuals, add flavor and insight to the whole world experience. It’s the choices we make that define whether we add good flavor or bad, and our treatment of humanity will always be a choice we make.
And so, on behalf of the gospel, I encourage each of us to consider our impact. We don’t have to insult others to build ourselves up; nor do we have to resort to name calling in order to make a statement. In fact, belittling others only discredits what we have to say, making us and our cause less credible. Our voices are powerful, and they are most effective when used to further the good of God’s diverse Kingdom. This world has enough to trample underfoot. What the world needs is salt. That is, the wherewithal to thrive in the goodness of community. Our passions and our hopes for the world will go much further when we make space for our neighbors and celebrate our differences.