It never ends.
Talking heads, pundits, bloggers, social media friends, picketers, neighbors . . . they all seem to have something to say about everything. The desire to join in the discussion and make our thoughts known builds and convinces us that we have to add to the noise, that we too must say something, about everything.
Whether it’s division about building walls, about racial inequality, about lifestyle choices and rights based on those choices, about which candidate’s history makes him or her a worse candidate for an office, about candidates calling each other names or endorsing each other, we start to think we must take a side publicly, right now . . . to spout out something pithy, to post a cutting meme, to share a sarcastic blog post that gets a point across in a crafty, clever-sounding, (and usually insulting) way.
It all makes my head spin. Sometimes I want to join in, but mostly I want to drown it out and just drive my son around to find Pokemon, but then I’m afraid I might miss something . . . something I should have an opinion about.
But what would I be missing, really? Mostly a collection of ignorance . . . people yelling at and insulting each other to . . . try to win the other one over? Hmmm . . . Really? How in the world do they think that is going to work? The only ones who read and argue back are the ones who are looking for a fight. And they’re not going to listen, because they’re yelling about their own side, convinced they’re going to win the wayward opponent to the right side, too . . . I guess.
Reminds me of Proverbs 18:2: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
As I’m pondering my deep desire to turn it all off before I too get sucked into the futility and start spouting off (like I really, really want to), I am also considering the value of responding. What are we to do? If we care, how can we stand back and say nothing? So we add to the noise and think we’re helping the cause of whatever righteousness we’re fighting for when we make some quick, clever comeback. But is that pithy response really going to change someone’s conviction? Seriously, who in the world is reading the 735th reply to the 63rd comment on a post about a candidate’s stance on gluten-free food for the military anyhow . . . well, other than me, and if someone IS reading it, is THAT comment finally going to be the one to change that person’s mind?
Reminds me of Proverbs 29:11: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
I’m not saying we should be absent from the conversation. It just seems to me that we all need to push away the opinion megaphones that are screaming in our ears and think for ourselves first . . . especially before we pick up our own megaphone to start screaming at others! But how can we possibly have our own thoughts if we don’t bother stopping to consider both sides, with open minds and open hearts? If we stop to listen, both sides usually have some valid points. But we have to WANT to hear them.
Reminds me of Proverbs 18:17: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
I am persuaded the endless streams of opinions that are flooding our lives are indicative of our deep desire to be heard. But is what we are saying adding value or are we just joining in the hot air that is blowing across our nation (maybe the real reason for global warming? . . . not that I’m affirming or denying global warming :-/), adding more ignorance as we guffaw with the other scoffers at the idiocy of the people who think differently than we do?
Maybe we should more carefully consider the end goal. Are we trying to persuade in a thoughtful and winsome way to encourage understanding and growth of others as well as understanding and growth in ourselves, or do we just want to be victorious? If it is the latter, our words are wasted, provoking others, solidifying in their minds how wrong and foolish we are, and only hinder the cause we so desperately want to defend.
Reminds me of Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
I pray our nation (and Christ-followers specifically) will become more thoughtful before responding to each other in a way that continues division among us. May we all strive to stop and think before we spew more fodder for others to exploit.