For weeks I’ve averred that I’m not all that concerned about Nov. 3rd. I’ve been more concerned about Nov. 4th.
We knew this day would come. We didn’t know exactly how yesterday would turn out — we still don’t — but earnestly welcoming the wide emotional spectrum amid our collective hearts this day, it’s time for a respectful, blunt, sincere but sobering conversation.
How does a culture — which has chosen to treat each other so poorly — change their insolent activity?
We’ve watched friends shame friends. We’ve seen spouses disparage spouses. We’ve been lured into one of the more destructive impacts of social media by sitting behind our insulating keyboards, feeling now emboldened to say face-to-face to another what we previously knew to be inapt. Insult has become acceptable. Offense has become commonplace. Opinion has become news. And social media has become nothing short of a 21st Century landmine field.
All sorts of dishonoring behavior has been justified…
All in the name of politics.
To be clear, politics matter. Politics matter because politics affect people.
But something matters more…
In a land where the self-evident truth is that all persons are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, we are called to love who our Creator created.
Such is the same call to love our neighbor well… regardless of who our neighbor actually is. Our “neighbor” is anyone God has allowed in our path. That means the person who lives next to you… sits at the table with you… checks you out at the grocery store… befriends you on social media, etc. Note that the imperative to “love your neighbor well” has nothing to do with how another looks, thinks, or votes. It is also not conditional nor selective, meaning we only have to love some of our neighbors well.
The reason, therefore, the Intramuralist has been more concerned about the 4th than the 3rd is because this season has not been societally healthy. How do we move forward?
Clearly, based on yesterday’s incomplete results, we are an evenly divided, political country — 50/50. Half and half. It is not noble nor plausible to suggest we simply shame or demean the other half for why they think like they do. Yet we have been increasingly lured into thinking that’s ok — into justifying the belief that it’s ok not to love them… that it’s ok to tune them out, disrespect them — that it’s totally acceptable and possibly even necessary to dishonor them, to dishonor those who don’t think like “me.” Friends, we are dishonoring those we do not understand.
Writes author Scott Sauls in his recently released A Gentle Answer: “I’ve grown increasingly perplexed over what feels like a culture of suspicion, mistrust, and us-against them. Whatever the subject may be — politics, sexuality, immigration, income gaps, women’s concerns, race, or any other social concerns over which people have differences — Angst, suspicion, outrage, and outright hate increasingly shape our response to the world around us.”
Our culture is encouraging dishonor.
Our culture is fueling the fire, encouraging us to individually determine if another is deserving of our attention and esteem. It’s baiting us into believing that the different don’t deserve it. And the minute we decide that another doesn’t deserve to be honored, it says more about us than about them, as we have chosen not to love another well.
I do not dismiss that this is hard. Not at all. I have walked with many who are in some intensely challenging situations. But my encouragement — which is undoubtedly counter-cultural — is to navigate through the hard in order to get to what is better. Our insolent activity is not what’s better. And in my semi-humble opinion, if we do not choose to change the way we respond and interact with one another, life will indeed get worse. If we wish to continue to exist as a country in which God still sheds His grace on thee, crowning thy good with brotherhood, we need to start now to build what yes, is clearly better.
Back to the keen comments of Sauls…
“Building something beautiful together will require participation from all sides. For those who are prone to injure, the call is to repent and to engage in the noble work of renouncing hatred and exercising love.
For those who are vulnerable to becoming injured, the call is to participate in the noble work of resisting bitter and retaliating roots of anger while embracing truth-telling, advocacy, and forgiveness.
For all of us, the universal call is to lay down our swords, listen, learn from our differences, and build something beautiful.”
No doubt such a course change will take humility and gentleness. It will take pause, patience, and intentionality. It means a commitment to what matters most and a resistance to a culture that encourages what’s lesser.
It’s November 4th. Join me. It’s time to begin.