Thursday, July 7, 2016

Politics and Social Media

The past weeks and months my Facebook feed has been filled with ugly, hateful, political posts. Most of the time is just a repost of someone else's memes or articles. I really wonder if anyone's mind has ever been changed by the hateful vitriol that they read on someone's Facebook feed.  
I am not in the habit of posting things that others have written. The purpose of this blog is to post original writing. I am making an exception in this post. I did not write the following words, but I fully agree with them. They made such an impact on me that I wanted to share them with my readers. I want to give the original writer, Ginger Winters, credit. I first read it on her blog, Ramble Ramble. So here is a shout out to Ginger.
Dear Friends, Family, Co-workers, and Anyone Else I Know;
As we all know, there is a rather major election happening this year. I know, no matter how loud or quiet you are, you probably (definitely) have opinions. You probably lean more toward one political party than the other, more toward one candidate than the other, more toward one side than the other, just as I do. You have strongly held beliefs about certain issues, just as I do. One of the great things about living in this country is our ability–and right–to hold and VOTE our political conscience, for the things and people we believe in.
That being said.
As the election gets nearer, and the tempers get shorter, and the mud gets fling-ier, I want you to remember some things, please:
When you post on Facebook that someone is “Too stupid to breathe…” if they vote for X candidate–you could be talking about me.
When you write in your email that someone who votes for Y candidate is “UnAmerican”—you could be talking about me.
When you say that someone who believes that Z candidate has better policies should “be taken out back and shot”—you could be talking about me.
When you say that you hope everyone who votes for XYZ candidate “is rounded up” before the election–you could be talking about ME.
When you say/post/share ugly words, thoughts or pictures about people on the other side to support your political position–you could be talking about ME.
About ME, or someone like me that you know. Not just a random “them.” But someone you like, or love. Someone you may have known your whole life. Someone you may think is intelligent, articulate, well-spoken. Someone you may think is caring, kind, giving.
There is a PERSON behind the things you are saying. When you say that all liberals, or all conservatives…when you say that all Democrats or all Republicans…when you say that ALL of any group is/says/does/thinks/behaves/believes/hates/loves/etc., you are saying that about real people.  Honest to goodness, flesh and blood people. Not just ideologies. Not just platforms. Not just issues. Not just politicians. Your friends. Your family. Your neighbors. Your coworkers.
Please, by all means, believe what you believe. Vote the way you want to vote. Engage in civil discussion about issues and platforms, if you want to. Advocate strongly for why you think what you think. Use reason to explain your position. These things? These make us better citizens, make us a better part of the political process. But when you start throwing those ugly words out, when you start sharing those ugly graphics, and those hateful quotes, and you point your finger at “THOSE PEOPLE” just remember…you could be talking about me. Someone you know. Someone you call friend, family, coworker.
And maybe that doesn’t matter to you. Maybe it doesn’t matter that you’re saying I’m stupid, unAmerican, deserve to be kicked out of the country, deserve to die, don’t have any compassion, don’t care about my fellow citizens, or am a moron. Maybe it doesn’t bother you because you believe SO strongly that ALL people who believe opposite of you are SO wrong that you’re willing to forget the people behind those beliefs, that they are more than just their political opinions, more than just where they fall on an issue or what candidate they want to vote for.
But to me it does. Because when this political season is over, and the races have been decided, the non-stop political nonsense will die back down to a low boil. But you and I? We’ll still know each other. And I’ll know what you really think…of me.
And how can that not change how I think of you?
I agree with Ginger's post. I am weary of the ugliness that fills my social media feeds. Before you post your next political post I hope these words come to your mind.

Many devout Christians become mean, critical, and bitter when they talk about politics. Insults, name-calling, bitterness, and slander are the order of the day. They don’t seem to remember that the Jesus they claim to worship said to “love your enemies."

I think that social media is partly to blame. People post things on the internet they might never say. I believe that Christians should have opinions on politics and that they have the right to express them. I’m very grateful that I live in a country where free speech is a basic human right. I’m happy that there are Christians who care about their country, and that some involve themselves in the political process.

But does it have to be so full of hate? It is all right for a Christian to express an opinion on politics such as, “I think X is a poor President, Senator, Congresswoman, Candidate.” A Christian has a right to feel that way. But we have all seen some Christians cross the line from opinion to attack, insult, and slander. Much of it is hateful and malicious.

Look at the Facebook posts of some Christians. When they talk or re-post, ask yourself if it’s possible they've ever read Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be with grace.”

In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” We as Christians can’t escape the reality that our words (or Facebook and Twitter posts) reveal our true character.

“For by your words,” Jesus said, “you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37) I have never read in the Bible where Jesus said, “But when it comes to politics and politicians, feel free to be as mean, vile and ugly as you want.”

When Christians say/post/share ugly words, thoughts or pictures about people on the other side to support their political position they are talking about people that Jesus loves, people that Jesus died for. There is a real person behind those words. I’m sure that there is a way for Christians to engage in the political process and political discussions while still manifesting the Spirit of Jesus. If Christians consistently showed the Spirit of Jesus in their political discussions instead of being mean or harsh it would be a powerful witness.

1 comment:

  1. Another great reminder. I have missed coming here for your down to earth and practical advice that always points back to Jesus. I always think of you and your wife during the Relay for Life. : )