“my” truth

It’s a fascinating concept… sounds good, too…

My truth.

But what if it’s not accurate?

Let’s objectively unpack. First, some definitions…

my | mī |  possessive determiner

1 belonging to or associated with the speaker: my name is John | my friend.

2 used in various expressions of surprise: my goodness! | oh my!

truth | tro͞oTH | noun 

the quality or state of being true: he had to accept the truth of her accusation.

that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality: tell me the truth | she found out the truth about him.

a fact or belief that is accepted as true: the emergence of scientific truths.

So then we observe, listening to what people think, say, and believe — such as this prominent news host this week:

“My role as a journalist is to speak from my truth and from my lens and from where I come from, and I don’t think those things are biases. I think those things give me expertise in this particular subject.”

With all due respect, he is not alone. Many believe their truth is the truth.

Herein lies the problem…

By definition,“truth” fits “in accordance with fact or reality.” One person’s experience does not equate to everyone else’s reality.

The “my” modifies what comes after it; “my” modifies “truth.”

But if “truth” is “fact or reality,” it can’t be modified.

Which makes me wonder… 

Is one of the challenges of current day this notion that seemingly well-intentioned, even intelligent people believe contradicting themselves makes sense?

Truth is not relative. Hence, there is no such thing as “my truth,” your truth, or anyone else’s.

So what if instead of “my truth,” we acknowledged…

“Here is my perspective…”

“This is my experience…”

“My perspective and experience are valid…”

With that comes the prudent awareness that individual perspective and experience do not hold for all people.

Why is such a distinction important? Great question. The challenge when we treat truth as relative — suggesting individual truths exist — is that it lures us into believing there’s no validity with any other perspective or experience. 

In other words, “If my truth is fact, why should I pay any attention to you?”

May we honor and learn from varied perspective and experience, recognizing each are still are incapable as qualifying as “truth.”

Respectfully…

AR

will the last person on Facebook please turn off the lights?

No worries, friends. The Intramuralist is not abdicating its social media presence. But I must admit: successfully navigating the tenuous waters where online conversation supposedly takes place has become a delicate art form. I’m being kind.

Facebook’s current mission is “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Instagram desires “to allow you to experience moments in your friends’ lives through pictures as they happen.”

Twitter says they want “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers. Our business and revenue will always follow that mission in ways that improve — and do not detract from — a free and global conversation.”

So we ask: is social media really bringing us closer, as things happen, in ways that improve our conversation?

Healthy conversation implies respectful interactiveness. It involves both speaking and listening — specifically, listening well. But in my very non-scientific sense, I contend good people have forgotten how to speak and how to listen; it’s not even close. Radio journalist and former NPR host, Celeste Headlee, and I agree.

“We’re not listening to each other,” says Headlee repeatedly. In her popular TEDx talk and succeeding book, she teaches us “How to Have Conversations That Matter”… how to have healthy conversation… that “art,” I believe — that necessary “art” — which we have forgotten…

  1. “Don’t multi-task.” Be present. Be fully attentive to those with whom you are interacting.
  2. “Don’t pontificate.” She adds, “You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn.” The expression of one’s opinions in a pompous and dogmatic way is not attractive nor effective. As “Bill Nye the Science Guy” said, “Everyone that you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” We would be prudent to remember that.
  3. Use open-ended questions.” Headlee encourages utilization of who, what, where, when, why and how… “what was that like?”… “how did that feel?” Ask another. Think about their response.
  4. “Go with the flow.” Follow the course of the conversation. Let go of the tangent thoughts that come into your mind that aren’t relevant as the dialogue continues.
  5. “If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.” (Brilliant, I contend!) I appreciate Headlee’s urging to error on the side of caution.
  6. “Don’t equate your experience with theirs.” Isn’t that a challenge these days? We think our reality fits for everyone else. We think we always understand. We would do well to remember that conversations are about two, not “you.”
  7. “Try not to repeat yourself.” Typically that’s evidence we aren’t listening well.
  8. “Stay out of the weeds.” People engaged in healthy conversation care most about the person on the other side of the table, so-to-speak. Sharing all the details means less.
  9. “Listen.” This is the most important aspect of healthy conversation. It’s the most important conversational skill that we can work on, develop, and encourage in others. “When I’m talking, I’m in control. I don’t have to hear anything I’m not interested in.”
  10. “Be interested in other people.” I love Headlee’s added final encouragement from her TEDx talk: “be prepared to be amazed by other people.” Wow… how would social media change if our approach changed? … if we were prepared to be amazed by others more than make personal proclamations?

To be a little more comprehensive, let’s acknowledge what is not included in healthy conversation: 

  • Shame of those who disagree.
  • Insult and attack when we don’t like someone else’s outlook.
  • Unwillingness to allow even the expression of diverse opinion.

Hence, if we employ that which is not considered healthy, we’re not listening. And if we’re not listening, we’re not having conversation. We are then not as wise nor self-aware as we think we are, and we certainly are not contributing positively to the stated missions of social media.

Will social media last? Maybe. But if the unhealthy cycle of shaming, blocking, and shut down continues, the mission statements may not be fulfilled…

… which causes me to modify the infamous, original ’71 sign of the times:

“Will the last person on Facebook please turn out the lights?”

Respectfully…

AR

the overreaction theory

For years I’ve found myself observing overreactions. As a career Human Resources professional, it goes something like this…

When a person leaves a place of employment (regardless of reason), what that person was perceived to be most lacking is what becomes over-emphasized in the one who replaces him or her.

For example, I saw an institution once who’s president unfortunately found himself caught in a rather ugly moral failure. Upon his voluntary resignation, a “family man” was named his replacement.

I saw another instance in which the head of the organization was believed to have been too controlling — too much power and authority all wrapped up in a singular individual. The response? After leaving, the organization decided not to hire a new person. They instead flattened the top of the organizational hierarchy, making multiple persons co-leaders.

The scenario is not limited to corporate new hires. Note the last four presidential elections…

One aspect that unfortunately marked Pres. Bill Clinton’s tenure was his infidelity. His replacement? Another so-called “family man.”

Pres. George W. Bush was always so colloquial; his rhetoric was perceived as quite simple and unpolished. Who succeeded him? A candidate whose words were often eloquent and awe-inspiring.

Pres. Barack Obama then was perceived as fairly politically correct. Suffice it to say that his successor is nothing of the sort.

None of the above examples are meant as criticism — merely observation. And the reality is that overreactions aren’t necessarily bad. It’s simply that the overreaction over-emphasizes singular aspects, thereby often creating a new set of challenges. This happens in employment, elections, and in culture itself.

As we watch current culture, it gives me great hope that we are willing to look at systems and and individual ideals in which we have not adhered to our declared national conviction that all men/women/children are created equal… that each of us are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. 

Note each aspect of that — men/women/children — equal — our Creator — inalienable rights — each is significant.

But where will we overreact? 

(This is key…)

When we overreact, which of the above aspects will we omit because we are so focused on what was originally most lacking?

Think with me, friends. What’s an overreaction?

… defunding the police?

… acting as if no good came from the 4th of July?

… casting one political party, ethnicity, or other as wholly good and its other as entirely evil?

I’ll be honest. I often judge others a little harder than I judge myself. I know… “But AR, I’m my own worst critic.” Yeah, I hear you. And for those of us who like to claim such, my sense is it’s only true to a point. 

The reality is that we typically judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions — in other words, we judge others on the limited picture of what we actually see. For self, we invoke more of a sliding scale.

Relevant to this post, I’d like to think that I never overreact. My reactions are fully justifiable.

My guess is for none of us is that always true.

Respectfully…

AR

summer pondering

I miss summer.

I know. It’s still summer, but it doesn’t feel like summer…

I miss baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet!

(Although in all transparency, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve eaten a hot dog, and I’ve long loved my Honda Pilot…)

2020 has been an odd year. Summer has been totally different. The best laid plans… well, let’s just say, we’re not totally in control. It’s made me wonder what years and seasons past generations have labeled “odd”… World War I, World War II, the depression… 

I think that’s one of the challenges of our current day scenario. Sometimes we look at other generations and simply judge them. Let’s be honest; it’s easy to do…

Those who’ve gone before us were so naive; they didn’t do anything!

The younger generation is out of control!!

And millennials… don’t get me started!

And just like that, from each of our nothing-but-limited perspectives, we judge them. We focus on what’s wrong with others. We negate the value of critical thinking and varied experience, and then we omit the necessary discernment vital to evaluating every season and stage.

I loved reading former ESPN college play-by-play announcer, Chuck Underwood’s The Generation Imperative a year ago. In his insightful work, Underwood dives into the formative years of each generation and “the core values that were molded from the unique times and teachings that each generation absorbed in their youth, their adulthood passages, current lifestage, and, future.” It’s not that one generation is wiser than another. Each has its strengths. And each has its blind spots.

One generation shapes another — albeit often in ways unintentionally so. We, also, if willing and humble enough, have opportunity to learn from another age group — older and younger. To simply be critical — praising one generation but denigrating another — omits significant, available wisdom and discernment.

And so yesterday, on a day that didn’t feel like summer nor a typical Independence Day — even with the aerial pomp and circumstance — I found myself pondering much…

… thankful… for all the generations that have been key to current day… for those whose conviction has been evident in their behavior… some via current peaceful protest… others via former military conflict, willing to put their life on the line… We learn from each.

… grateful… even in trying times—  for the liberty this country affords like no other… Let me be very clear: American liberty is unprecedented. There’s a reason the tired and poor come here. There’s a reason this is where the huddled masses yearn to breathe free. Are we perfect? Of course not. Can we always improve? Of course so. But let us never tire of our declaration of independence. We are a people that for 244 years have professed that each of us — no matter color or creed — are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights. We haven’t always embraced those rights for all people. We still don’t. And that’s not just about race. We can do better in honoring all lives.

… and questioning… Indeed, I still have questions… sincerely, of course…

What’s the difference between the indisputable fact that black lives matter and the political movement? I can’t tell how pure and democratic all aspects of the political movement are.

  • What’s the difference between the indisputable fact that black lives matter and the political movement? I can’t tell how pure and democratic all aspects of the political movement are.
  • How is social media impeding dialogue?
  • Can we — should we — mandate the mask?
  • How are different generations responding? Can we learn from — and respect — them all?
  • What am I missing?

How is social media impeding dialogue?

Can we — should we — mandate the mask?

How are different generations responding? Can we learn from — and respect — them all?

What am I missing?

Just pondering, friends, on a restful but unusual Fourth. May we listen well and be a blessing to one another.

Respectfully…

AR

what if we didn’t let them have it?

Our most recent post contained a singular line I’d like to address further today in a little more detail.

I speak not of the need to “assume a humble posture.”

I speak not either of being “lured into believing life is a series of binary choices.”

Today’s post centers around something arguably more practical and blunt…

“You let someone ‘deserving’ finally have it?”

With all due respect to the wisdom shared by brilliant authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend in the NY Times bestseller, Boundaries — recognizing that healthy boundaries are necessary, being aware of our own limitations — what if we chose to never let the “deserving” have it? 

To be clear, the “deserving” are those I have deemed as such. Not me alone, of course. I have an inner circle of likeminded thinkers who will affirm my humble/semi-humble/possibly-humble conclusion that another has warranted my judgment. I typically start like this…

“I’ve had it…”

“I just have to say…”

“I can’t take it anymore…”

“I’m at my breaking point…”

“I refuse to entertain any other opinion…”

And with that, we blow. We let them have it.

So play with me for a moment; what if we didn’t? What if we didn’t let another have it?

Recognizing that passions run high — and our passions are valid, mind you — still, I repeat, what if we chose not to let another have it?

Crazy. I know… “You don’t understand… They are wrong! They are dangerous! They don’t know what they don’t know!”

And just like that, we assume we actually know what we don’t know.

Friends, I keep coming to the conclusion that when we’re shouting at another — no matter the venue — it’s not going to make anyone want to be more like us. It reminds me, in fact, of good ole’ Brother Max…

Each spring and fall on the warmer, sunny mornings, Brother Max used to bless us with his presence on our midwestern college campus. We students would stroll by the worn paths, semi-awake for the day’s slate of classes, and if we were fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to walk toward Stewart Center, we were greeted by Max screaming at us. He was a man in his late 50’s — typically donning a tie, hat, and sunglasses. And God bless him; while I’d like to believe that somewhere in there he had a solid faith, he was trying to influence us to have a solid faith, too — by screaming at us. And while understanding what’s true and not about being a Jesus follower has become the primary devotion of my life, I can remember concluding from Max’s confrontational style that I didn’t want to be like him; I didn’t even want to think like him. The screaming and shaming simply wasn’t effective. He was more the center of our mockery as opposed to any kind of role model.

And so I ask again, what if we intentionally chose not to ever let another have it? 

What would happen? What would be different?

What if, in fact, in place of the screaming and shaming, we offered grace instead?

Grace… favor toward the unworthy… a kindness given to the undeserved…

… the undeserved…

Amazing, isn’t it?

Respectfully…

AR

how to talk to people

We are broken… Our nation. Our political system. The individual heart.

Friends, if we are going to actually craft solution, it will not come by drowning others out, winning “one more to our tribe,” nor employing any rules for radicals. If we are going to address our ballooning brokenness, there is one thing we must each start to do…

We must learn how to talk to people. 

We think we learned it long ago. We tend to think we’re actually good at it. And yet we then tend to focus most of our communication telling someone else what they need to do. No wonder social media has become such a conversational mine field… “You don’t agree with me? Well, then something must be wrong with you.”

That’s not a conversation, friends. It’s also not healthy. If I can focus my primary energy on how others need to change, then I never have to examine me. In fact, if I can find more wrong in you, change in me is irrelevant and actually unnecessary. Hence, we remain corporately and individually broken.

How then should we talk to people?

Step one: assume a humble posture.

Who wants to hear the arrogant? Who is inspired to change or self-reflect when ego and pride are screaming at you? Is such effective in regard to heart change? Solution?

How many times do we say, “I just have to say…” or “I’ve had it…” or “I’m not going to take it anymore…” Who is the subject of each of those sentences? I, me, my, myself. When we are the focus of our own monologues, thinly veiled as wisdom for a watching world, we aren’t very good teachers, leaders, encouragers, nor role models; we’re not even great friends. We’re also often looking down on someone. If we’re looking down on someone, then often at least for me, I’m doing the exact thing I’m imploring another not to do.

Hence, in what we say and how we say it, it starts with a humble posture — not an offensive or defensive position or anything ready to pounce. Simply embrace humility always. 

Step two: listen more than you speak.

We have been lured into believing life is a series of binary choices… “If you’re not with me, you’re against me…” left, right… black, white… good, bad… That lure then allows us to conclude that there are only two sides to a situation — plus, if you’re not on the same side as me, then you must be wrong. There are 360° in a circle and thus multiple perspectives. Always. We will never discover such if we’re busy doing all the talking, screaming, shouting and shaming. Someone thinks differently than you? Ask them why. Outrageous, it seems? Ask questions. Seek to understand. When we refuse to listen, we are the ones who are stuck.

Step three: employ respect. 

When I set out to establish “The Intramuralist” 12 years ago, the idea was spurred on through interactions with a dear friend with whom I often disagreed. We would come to the table with different thoughts and beliefs in our heads and hearts; we would share, push back, sometimes shake our heads a bit, and often say, “Help me understand.” And while it wasn’t always easy, that sincere exchange doesn’t happen unless we are respecting one another. “We may not think the same, but I respect you. I value you.” If the person on the other side of the table doesn’t feel valued by you, why would they have any desire to think more like you? Hence, without respect, crafting solution is impossible.

Step four: engage in self-examination.

A wise new friend encouraged me in a profound way last week. In regard to the current racial tension, he encouraged me (each of us, really) to look “first in the mirror and then out the window.” In other words, if we are going to be part of the solution, first we need to examine self… What attitudes have I held or behaviors have I exhibited that have contributed to looking down on another?Do I tolerate everyone but the intolerant? Then I’m intolerant… Do I respect everyone but those who disagree with me? Then I’m not respectful… Self-examination is vital. Then look out the window; be mindful of people who don’t look like me. Again, seek to understand and empathize.

And step five: rinse and repeat.

Learning how to talk to people is not a one-time course nor something to be checked off our latest list. It’s not a collegiate Gen Ed that we can take once and be done with; it is in no way Communication 101. In fact, with social media often serving as a place encouraging all the unfortunate, exact opposite, my sense is that these steps must be regularly reviewed. 

But make a mistake? Fall prey to insult or disrespectful retorts? You let someone “deserving” finally have it? Rinse… feel some forgiveness. Maybe even ask for forgiveness, as we’re all in this together.

Then repeat. Again and again and again.

It starts with a humble posture.

Respectfully…

AR

say something

While undaunted by current blogging challenges (recognizing that there seem things you’re supposed to say, not supposed to say, and certain things you must say a certain way… on top of all, if you say nothing, then there’s also something wrong with you or you’re insensitive or worse or something lesser), allow us to say something today by pondering what actually fits. Let’s say something that’s helpful in actually encouraging respectful dialogue. What tidbits of wisdom fit the current cultural moment?

For example…

As said previously in regard to how we as a nation enact coronavirus precautions, prudence in the dense populace of New York City looks different than in Montana’s beloved “Big Sky Country.” Hence, my concluded tidbit of wisdom:

“One size doesn’t fit all.”

What else fits now?

“All men are created equal.”

Expanding upon the Declaration… men, women, children… the abled, disabled, infant, elderly, and more. That’s why black lives matter.

“People should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

I can’t amen enough the wisdom extracted from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 dream. The content of one’s character means most. In all things.

“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.”

This quote from Dr. King — whose daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King, said has been much misused during this time — explains why riots happen; it does not support nor advocate rioting, as rioting hurts the innocent.

As I toy a little more, my pondering centers on nuggets of wisdom centered on potentially polar opposites: judgment and grace. Let’s continue to examine what fits… first focusing on judgment…

“Everyone has untold stories of pain and sadness that make them love and live a little differently than you do. Stop judging, instead try to understand.” — Anonymous

“We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.” — Jayce O’Neal

“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.” — Wayne Dyer

“If you judge people you have no time to love them.” — Mother Teresa

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Which leads us to grace…

“Grace, respect, reserve, and empathetic listening are qualities sorely missing from the public discourse now.” — Meryl Streep

“And you know, when you’ve experienced grace and you feel like you’ve been forgiven, you’re a lot more forgiving of other people. You’re a lot more gracious to others.” — Rick Warren

“Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are.”― Philip Yancey

“Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” — Jerry Bridges

“Believe the best about people. Pray for their shortcomings. You are not the standard. We all need grace.” — LeCrae

Believe the best… not because of who we are… 

Yes, I’m thinking that fits…

Respectfully…

AR

the journey & the shared experience

On this life journey — like it or not — we’re all taking together, I’ve never really wondered if God existed. With total respect to my more skeptical friends, let me add that God has certainly felt far away at times. But for me, over the course of my life, I’ve come to conclude that’s usually more about me than it is about him. I’m still learning.

Some things are just too big for me to believe anything else.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the ocean…

We actually lived far away from any coast — more in the middle of the Midwest. And summer vacation was typically a trip to see relatives in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” or “America’s Dairyland.” So while born on the shores of Lake Michigan, the great lake still felt different to me than the ocean. I was 19 when I finally saw it.

It was my sophomore year of college, and once our Spring Break shenanigans had settled for the day (with a special shout out to my sororal ride-or-dies), I found myself sitting alone one night on the edge of the Atlantic, with the Southeast Florida sands sprinkled amidst my toes.

I can remember looking at the ocean and thinking, “You are so big!”

And almost instantly, without thinking, the subject of my sentence changed, God, you are so big!”

As I saw the enormous expanse of the sea and recognized that sort of straight across from me — latitude-speaking, of course — lie Morocco and the Western Sahara, I couldn’t get over how huge it was and how someone must have intentionally made this.

Teemed, too, with such a vast variety of fish — the massive and the minute — I was blown away. It was actually overwhelming. I thus made God a promise that night that every time I saw the ocean, I would acknowledge him; thank him; and smile about how big he is. I sense his presence clearly there.

Having moved three years ago from the Midwest to “The City Beautiful,” the sandy shores are significantly closer — only a glorious 40 minutes away now. Hence, we visit often, finding the sunshine and the respite to be healthy and good.

It’s been a little more complicated this spring and summer, as at first the beaches were closed and now parking is limited and people are appropriately distanced. The sunshine and respite graciously remain, no less.

Last week’s visit was especially encouraging. My three sons and I made the jaunt…

After we had sat for some time, each taking turns wading into the now-warm-enough waters, my older two guys picked up the football, deciding to toss it around.

My guys are excellent athletes and have pretty good arms, and they were zinging that pigskin back and forth, seemingly with ease.

Maybe only three, four minutes in, a couple, additional, observing young men asked if they could play, too.

“Of course,” was the instant smile and nod.

And for the next forty minutes, the now foursome took turns with one man throwing, one man receiving, one man defending, and the other resting, awaiting his turn.

It was fun to see them each enjoy each other… each have times besting one another… and each congratulate another when they were the one bested. They had moments of success… and moments not. They played hard, ran fast, often diving in the sand. Quickly, one would notice they had varied skill sets — some who were faster, some who threw farther, some perhaps who were stronger. And while the socially-distanced summer didn’t allow for the typical hugs or high-fives when finished, they affirmed one another, thankful for the shared experience.

How beautiful to see a group of gifted young men, white and black, genuinely and sincerely affirm one another for who they are.

Every time I see the ocean… yes… I sense God’s presence clearly there.

Respectfully…

AR

who are you close to?

Crazy cultural moments give me hope. Making light of no one’s challenge, I’m hopeful because I feel like the great big God of the universe is attempting to get our attention. Will we listen? … or will we continue to find another way to rely on our own knowledge, our own wisdom, trying to shape our own solution? The beauty right now is that many crave crafting actual solution. Even some who sadly justify unjust destruction are crying out. It is no excuse; it is, though, evidence of wanting something better. What would be better?

A culture in which no one is judged by the color of their skin —nor their age, stage, or circumstance.

An awareness that morality isn’t relative.

A resistance of the binary choice.

My sense is save for the radical, left and right fringe (noting both exist), most agree with the first two ways in which our world would be better…

The content of our character will always mean most.

Universal moral norms exist, especially the value of every human and the unalienable rights that only the Creator is capable of bequeathing.

But the binary choice?

Perhaps because we crave solution and seek to cease the pain as soon as possible — as let’s face it, friends, we aren’t very good with pain — our own, much less anyone else’s — in our desire to stop the pain, we sometimes rush to the simplified, binary choice…

… black/white…

… left/right…

… good/bad…

… friend/foe…

… fund/defund…

The challenge is binary choices are almost always made from too far away. As Andy Stanley says, “The farther away you are from a problem, the simpler it seems. The closer you get, the more complex it becomes.”

And so I ask…

Who are you close to?

Proximity shapes perspective. From far away, the perspective pales. That’s evident in both those who encourage the violent and those who denigrate the nonviolent… that’s evident in those of us who have no friends, family, or significant influences who look/think/believe/behave/vote any different than ourselves…

We are too far away from one another. Those who are too far away tend to encourage the binary choice.

Hence, questions I’m asking myself at this time…

  • Where have I looked down upon any other as lesser? 
  • Where have I allowed racism, implicit bias, or prejudice to affect my thinking or behavior?
  • Where am I unwilling to listen to another?
  • Where am I intentionally not choosing unity?
  • And where is the great big God of the universe attempting to get my attention?

God is the only One who consistently encourages loving all well and looking down on no one. It is only He who speaks of a day when the lion/lamb/leopard/goat all lie down peacefully together.

It starts by moving closer.

Respectfully…

AR

is cancel culture good?

I’m simply a student today, friends. Join me. If we studied more than we shouted, my sense is each of us would benefit. Hence, first, what is “cancel culture”? From Dictionary.com:

cancel culture

[ kan-suhl kuhl-cher ]

Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.

Or the “top definition” from the more colloquial UrbanDictionary.com:

Cancel Culture

A desire to cancel out a person or community from social media platforms.

It is characterized by the response of an evil individual when they are shown to be wrong. They will call on their followers to report the social media accounts of the person or group that did the criticizing rather than discussing the criticism or showing by evidence where the criticism is incorrect.

Narcissists make up the majority of the people who engage in cancel culture, and others who do this would include immature individuals.

When something is “cancelled,” it’s declared null and void. “Call-out culture” is a similar term.

The difference in contemporary usage is that a cancel culture is not focused on declaring a series or subscription null and void. It is canceling a person. From the dictionary once more, “In the latest use of the word, you can cancel people… anyone who takes up space in the public consciousness.”

Hence, the student asks again: is cancel culture good?

It certainly isn’t respectful, but does that matter? Or… is the mattering tied to effectiveness?

In the cultural moment before us, one of the aspects I personally find hopeful is that many are finally sitting with the pain of other people; they are recognizing their own perspective is incomplete. Each of our perspectives is incomplete. It seems many are recognizing that others don’t experience life the way they do. Such seems a God-honoring, healthy pursuit, and one that is always part of a wise one’s journey. 

As pondered here six months ago…

“My Hispanic neighbors across the street are consistently engaged in managing their business and chasing after their adorable, young children.

My gay friends on the corner take some glorious, fantastic vacations.

The married professionals next door are gone a lot; we don’t talk as much as any of us would like.

And the single, black mom down the block has an incredibly full plate.

Each of us experience the world differently. And that’s just on my small street.

What would happen if we actually took the time to listen to people who don’t experience the world the way we do?…”

My student sense is that positive cultural change is most lasting and effective if heart change is included. Yet individual hearts aren’t positively changed if simply declared null and void. What if, therefore, in this moment, each of us recognized we had something to learn? What if we each listened better? What if we became a student of one another instead of cancelers?

I continue from our previous post… 

“… when we don’t understand how another person can believe or behave the way they do, it is we who don’t understand. We don’t understand the realities of another and how they experience the world.

So if we are going to love our neighbor well, we need to listen and learn from others. If we are going to minimize the ignorance in our own lives, we need to ask good questions and seek to understand. We need to seek out and engage with those who are different than us… the citizens and immigrants, black and white, Democrats and Republicans, etc. Otherwise we are going to be guilty of discounting every bit of information that doesn’t fit perfectly in our current, narrow world view. We will only add to our own ignorance.

Let me be gently but boldly more clear: each of our world views are narrow. Each are incomplete…”

Let us thus listen and learn from all of the above… even when it’s hard… even when we don’t want to… even when cancelling would be easier and certainly more convenient. Let us love each of our neighbors well. Let us choose to be a student…

Respectfully…

AR