I have decided to ban myself from Facebook for a few days. Despite what I am sure it may feel like to some of my friends, it was not a hasty decision or even prompted by any specific incident. It was rather a culmination of things that just became too much in the wake of the Paris attack and our conversations about it. Although admittedly I’m not sure conversations is even the right word for what was happening. Demonizing might be a better word.
The Left was dehumanizing the opposite side by calling them racist, xenophobic, challenging their beliefs, ignoring their valid concerns and engaging in name-calling. The Right was dehumanizing the opposite side by making crude comparisons, ignoring their valid concerns, refusing to see any side but their own and engaging in slander against a whole group of people, innocent and not. I am not proud of the fact that I was one of these voices at times.
It just got to be too much. Too much negativity, too much anger, too much hurt. Everywhere I turned people that I know and love and respect (whether I agree with them or not) were posting things that vilified one group or the other, were arguing with people that I know they also love and respect in ways that frankly bothered me. It was like someone has tossed a grenade of fear into social media and we were using the shockwave to reinforce our worst perceptions about each other. Whether “pointy-headed, naïve commie liberal” or “racist, ignorant conservative”, the discussions were less about sharing ideas and finding ways to build common ground and more about pitting “my” version of reality against “yours” and proving my way is the only right way to see things. And I engaged. I did it to… and for that I am truly sorry.
As a minister in a faith community that claims the name of Christ, I feel like this last week was not one of my better weeks.
I was not a presence of his love, peace and justice among the world in which I live. I did not lift people up, care for their wounds, or listen to their concerns in the ways that I probably should have. I struggled to show love to my neighbors. I questioned whether I even wanted to remain known as a “Christian.” But I believe God is real. I trust in the experiences that I have had and others have shared with me throughout my life. I trust that Christ is love and calls us to live a better life than we see is possible now. I hope for and have faith that the world can be a better place. But I can’t build that world, which we call Zion, if I do not walk the walk as well as talk the talk. And this week I hurt people. Whether I meant to or not is irrelevant. I showed people a caricature of a Christian who says one thing but does another. I screwed up.
So I am taking a break.
I hope to spend the next few days with God. As Christ showed us, sometimes we need that break. To pray with Him, to be with Him… to recharge so that when we reenter the world we are not over-come by it. I pray for all those affected by the Paris attacks, and yes, that includes the killers and more importantly, their families. I pray for the thousands of refugees around the world who will suffer needlessly because of the actions of a few. I pray for me, that I will be a better mirror of Christ’s love to the world I live in. And I pray for us all, that as God promises, Love will overcome Fear and Division.
See you in a few…