I have watched our country as an enormous storm of evil has rolled in with a vengeance in an attempt to steal, kill, and destroy all that is good and right. What I am seeing is not anything new. The history books tell the story over and over. However, the world is a different place now. One opinion, one thought, one misplaced word or hashtag can circle the globe in less than a second. One comment on social media made before being thought through can change a person’s life forever. The entire world has watched this storm as destruction has overtaken all in its path; and I’m not talking about a hurricane or a tornado. That type of death and destruction from the unrelenting power of nature is heart-wrenching and we watch with disbelief and sorrow for the victims. We care, we run to the side of the victims and bring supplies and we help rebuild. The storm I am talking about today is calculated and brought on by evil, sensationalism and greed. It is brought on by people who are hungry to see the pain and demise of others – anyone – as long as it is not them or someone they love. It is brought on by crowds of people who feed on the adrenaline of the battle, the terror of the fight, and the spoils of the war.
Any person, regardless of their religious or political views would say that what we have witnessed the past few weeks has been evil. Accusations are flying like a mirage of arrows into the crowds and the innocent and the guilty have been impaled and left to suffer and die. Women…and men have been exploited sexually and harassed mercilessly because, seemingly, that has become the norm in the workplace and in institutes of education. Innocent men and women of every color have been shot by their own peers, by total strangers and by law enforcement because the tension has been pulled to a snapping point. The very young and the very old are being beaten and neglected. Every person deserves to be heard; the accuser and the accused. Men and women in the throws of life changing court proceedings are being made the target of satirical comedy and laughed at by millions for entertainment. I cannot believe that it is best for these sensitive, life altering stories to be plastered all over the airwaves and social media for people who do not know and will never know the entire story to weigh in with their opinions and words that bring nothing but strife and chaos to an already fractured society. When did it become the norm for the news media, social media activists, and television and music celebrities to be given the authority to tell us what we should believe? When did it become the norm for someone else’s legal battle to be any of my business? And when did it become the norm to blatantly show disrespect to any citizen of this world?
Good, solid people have been caught up in this evil storm and have spun out of control, doing things and saying things that add to the destruction rather than the healing. Everyone has an opinion but very few of the opinions I have heard lately have been positive or have led to any kind of real solution. I count myself among the people on that list. It makes me wonder if anyone truly desires healing or if we have become a society that prefers to crucify and devour our own; cannibals under the cover of social awareness, political correctness and freedom?
The arenas of social media, television, and printed news are beginning to take on an appearance quite similar to the games of ancient Rome. Pushing people out into the arena and watching as they are torn apart by hungry lions while everyone in the gallery is cheering and jeering and being entertained. Innocent and guilty alike thrown into the social media arena with the gallery cheering and jeering as their lives are being ripped to shreds. When did the public destruction of our human brothers and sisters become an acceptable sport? Maybe it is just too easy. We don’t even have to buy a ticket. We can enjoy the games from our very own living room and can post our cheers and jeers on social media. My son-in-law calls it virtual courage. I guess you can stick your neck out and say all kinds of vial things when there’s no real threat other than more words from other virtual participants. You see, I am becoming more and more convinced that very few words said on social media are completely true. People are either extremely courageous and opinionated in their virtual world or they are extremely knowledgeable, or extremely in control, or extremely balanced, and the list goes on and on. We see pictures of pristinely clean houses, with extremely perfect decor and extremely perfect children in their perfectly lit, perfectly photographed virtual world. Kudos to those who can pull that off every single day. I don’t think I have had a single day in my amazing 59 years that ever looked like that. Life doesn’t allow retakes, we don’t get to stage the snapshots and Photoshop and edit the scenes in real life. Life is beautiful and messy and hard. It is a double-edged sword and both sides – the negative, disrespectful side and the oh so perfect beautiful side are dangerous in their own ways.
So where are the solutions to be found? How do we start a movement of change? First we must open our eyes, clear our minds, and listen to the longings in the depths of our own souls. We must take a long hard look at ourselves and truly recognize the extent which we have been desensitized to the horror of things that are happening in our world. We must recognize also how we are measuring ourselves against that which is created to look perfect. Wake up! Is this how we want our world to look? Is this the world we want to present to our children and grandchildren? Can’t we just be real, imperfect, wonderful, amazing, flesh?
Now here is what I see. There are millions of acts of kindness and love that are carried out in our world every day. People are helping people and lending a hand. Young men and women are working hard to gain the skills to make this world a better place. People of all colors are sitting down together in their homes and workplaces with a sense of respect and appreciation for each other. Men and women are running to the aid of victims of natural disasters. Meals are being taken to the sick and the lonely. Prayers are being offered for those who are suffering. Teachers are working tirelessly to provide an education for all children. Churches are welcoming all people of all color and socioeconomic background. Good things are happening every day but the barometric pressure of this horrific storm is dropping and continues to pull our society toward the evil, degrading, disrespectful side that is filled with hatred and violence.
I can tell you what will never solve anything. Standing on a street holding a sign and yelling at another group of people holding signs who are yelling back….that does not solve the problem. Shooting random police officers because of the anger stirred up over a completely different officer’s horrific act….that does not solve the problem. Plastering a legal battle all over the airwaves and social media so that family after family is torn apart….that does not solve the problem. Writing satirical comedy and making fun of our government leaders and those in the middle of these legal battles….that does not solve the problem. using social media to argue politics, religion, sexual preferences, racial issues, right to life, women’s rights, and the list goes on and on and on solves nothing. Anyone can say anything on social media – virtual courage. That’s a danger zone.
So, if we truly desire to start the change in our world, what are we to do? The answer is clear but it is not easy. We have to look for the greater good. We have to lay down our own selfish thoughts and desires and decide to love again. We must make every effort to sit down together, face to face, in the flesh, and talk to each other with respect. Look face to face into a person’s eyes and search their soul for answers. After we sit together and learn once again to communicate in a civilized and respectful manner, then we must stand together for change. The pop stars, the actors and actresses, the media moguls, the billionaires and talk show hosts of the world have a right to be heard, but they should not be the only people in our society who have a voice. The words or opinions of a person having thousands, even millions of followers on instagram, twitter, or Facebook should no be given any more power or value than the homeless woman on the street, the working man, the stay at home parent, the student, the doctor, the lawyer, or the minister of a local church. We must understand that everyone has a right to an opinion and a voice. What we also have to understand is that freedom does not give us the right to use words or actions to hurt someone else just because they have a differing viewpoint. We have the ability to agree to disagree and still treat others with respect. We have the ability to disagree and still love each other and work together side by side for the greater good. We have the ability to make a change. We have the ability to value every soul on this planet as an integral part of the process we call life. Love bridges over all cultural boundaries and crosses over all religious lines; not a physical, sexual, self-gratifying love, but a deep in the bottom of the soul kind of love built on appreciation for all mankind and for the amazing miracle of every day life.
As a Christian, my belief system through Jesus Christ is based on love. When Jesus, my Savior, came to this earth and died for my sins so that I might have eternal life He gave one final instruction; “Love God, and love others.” So simple and yet so hard. And here is the amazing part, even if you do not believe in Jesus or even in God, you still know that love is the answer. As Christians, we (me included) at times have been the very worst at showing love. Hypocrisy does not lead others to my Jesus. I have learned and continue to learn that I have no right to judge. Scripture says that Jesus at one point told the crowd, “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” Well, if we listened carefully to those words, none of us, Christian or non-Christian would be doing any stone throwing today. Here are the keys: showing kindness and respect to others, honoring others for who they are, stopping the judgement and hypocrisy, having boundaries that honor the rights of others to protect their bodies, building others up and offering a helping hand, putting others first, using words and actions that show great character and restraint, teaching our kids to love by example, being quick to forgive and slow to speak, showing self-control, working on the log in our own eye, respect, respect, respect, and so many other things.
Let’s be the change.
So I want to challenge my readers with a few assignments:
(I will follow as well)
- Sit across the table from someone with a totally different set of opinions and have a conversation. Listen carefully to their heart and be willing to share your heart as well. You may find that you have more in common than you think! And on those things that you cannot find common ground, respectfully agree to disagree. Be sure to let that person or group of people know that you value them as a person – no other qualifications necessary.
- Make a positive statement on all of the social media platforms you participate in. Give something of value in the form of words every day for at least a month.
- Say something kind to at least 5 people – in person – to their face – looking them in the eye.
- If you are a Christian, get on your knees today before God and pray for our country and its leaders.
- Over the next 6 months go to these 6 places and thank the people who are serving.
a. Fire Station
b. Police Station
d. Nursing Home
f. Church or civic organization
6) Vote. Do your research, know the issues, and vote your convictions.
7) Refuse the temptation to show virtual courage.
8) Be real; with your kids, your friends, your coworkers. Don’t be afraid
just to be you.
8) Choose to love every single time there is a choice.
This scripture comes to my mind over and over and I would like to share it with you. I have a blog post about it here.
14 If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.
2 Chronicles 7:14-15