I could only hope! Last night I wrote, “I love my friends.” I do. I really do. And I have friends across the spectrum. I have friends who are the antithesis of most of what I believe, in fact. I have friends who are not Democrats, not liberal, not believers, not heterosexual. I have friends who probably step way over the lines towards anarchy and others who think “too much government” is not enough.
The other day I made a comment about various aspects of the government and some were concerned. Let me make it clear, I think we are in trouble and the answer is in us and not in a top heavy government. With that said, my answer lies in Christ and not in man.One of the sources I enjoy reading is The Drudge Report. The news is constantly diversified and fresh. I realize it “leans” a little too left for some people’s taste, but I find many worthy news sites to visit as the result of his 2 man show. (Him and his secretary.)
This morning he wrote this, “My biggest fear as editor of Drudge Report is people are slamming off all news and politics. Disgusted, frustrated.. and going off the grid.”
Recent conversations with many indicate the following. People in most cases are fearful, naïve, ignorant and way more caught up with self.
First let me say as a believer, fear ought be far from my house. (365 times it records “fear not.”) We ought not be naïve, but in fact are encouraged to be “wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.” (That gentle as a dove needs a little more play, folks!) We are encouraged to “study to show ourselves approved.” And finally the “life I live is not my own.”
So, what is the issue? In my mind it is polarization. Over the weeks I have had many dialogues about various aspects of the Christian walk and how we approach issues. Daily issues. Only yesterday I was engaged in a tangled mess over the issue of abortion. One of my friends was making a case for “freedom of choice” and we got to where the Bible is the guide. I was doing fine until a few others felt it was time to “slam” my liberal friend. Both are believers. What happened to “gentle as a dove.”? If your “wins” require you to blow a gasket, people probably just checked out of your conversation.
We must change things and the answer lies with us.
I understand that the gospel brings about persecution. (You may have read about the preacher arrested in Scotland for an anti-homosexuality talk. He had been arrested in England last summer as well for the same thing.) I understand that some things are “hard” but at no point do we get to “go off” screaming. (Only the other day someone called me about a pastor who was on video confronting unbelievers at the top of his lungs. Are you kidding?) A wise old pastor said to me not to long ago, “you will never get it in them unless you get close to them.”
Polarization-It is the force that drives people apart. I wrote it about it the other day in talking about being deceived. I am concerned because it is a driving force, even in the church. I am tired of “talking points”, screaming and shouting with one another and the inability to have conversations without leaving someone “dead”. How about some “inside voices”? You know the voice from inside you?
Some may feel even writing about this is polarizing on some levels.
If you are yelling no one is listening. No one wants to listen. If you are so adamant in your one-sided monologues and diatribes, it is little wonder people are not listening. STOP YELLING! (And please do your homework. Do research. Please do not post the next political statement or headline unless you validate it.)
As I said earlier I have friends who vote Democrat (But I am not a Republican.) who are liberal and want the government from “hell”. I get that. I don’t, but if I am yelling how are they going to hear? Or want to hear? My friends who are gay know very well my beliefs on marriage and sexuality and my reasons for it. But I am in r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p with them. And we have conversations. I am not saying you have to sing “Kumbaya” but I would ask that you might sit around a campfire.
My wife and I are the proverbial “polar opposites.” In pretty much everything except family and friends and our belief in God. We do not “agree” about a variety of things, but our relationship is solid. I happen to believe that you can be like that in a multitude of areas. Same with my children. I hate to say this but you may need to earn their respect.
There is so much in the world that has the potential to divide. To polarize. Even the discussion over where we get our news or information is up for debate.
Last night I was going over some headlines that had caught my attention. One of them was the story about the Arkansas mother fighting “common core” education. (Common Core even in my community is the perceived answer to get people on the same page on education.) Folks, I have grandchildren in a public school where it costs more to send a child to school than to college and I think college is over-priced! I talk to them. I can tell you how much they are NOT learning. But anytime you try to regulate something or make it all look the same…well, suffice to say there is a reason for state’s rights. You get to vote with your feet.
In the viral video, Lamoreaux asked the Arkansas Board of Education a simple question: if there are 18 students in a class, and the class counts itself by a number and ends with 90, what number did they count by?
One of the board members said they counted by fives, explaining that 90 divided by 18 equals 5.
Lamoreaux then raised a sheet showing countless notes and drawings totaling a staggering 108 steps to solve the problem, which she said is the way children in the state are taught to solve the problem under the Common Core standards. More than that, she said if students solve it by simply dividing 90 by 18, they get the question wrong.
Another headline I was looking at was the story of the new sex-ed poster appearing in middle schools.(The link is here and it may offend you.)
I dislike both these things. But if I lose my audience because I am unwilling to dialog or communicate only at 120 decibels who cares? A friend said to me that she had stopped listening to a family member because they could not only tell or “hear” one side. Learn to build from a point of agreement.
A few years ago a friend of mine tabled the idea of coalescing the two sides and parties. He devoted a ton of time to finding areas of common ground. Only a handful, but he found them. The response from both parties was simply, “you are kidding right? Work together?” Oh, I know, start a third party right? Folks, unless we work together, no amount of parties changes anything but further adds to the polarization.
I am a “grace” guy. Immediately when you read that you may have come to an instant conclusion. You may decide that I am “hyper-grace” and letting everything go. (Couple of questions. Can you have too much grace? Is anything less than all grace, really grace?) You may have decided as some have that I am a universalist. That everyone gets to go to heaven. You would be sadly mistaken. But I have friends who are. And I have friends who think you never need to correct or initiate change.
Here is what I am in a few sentences. I believe in the grace of God and that without it I would perish in hell. I believe I did nothing to earn it and still do not have the ability to earn it. It is a gift. Because of that great gift, I can have friends on both sides of the aisle. And stand peacefully for what I believe.
I do not like where public education is going or how the government spends. I do not like motorcycle helmets or seat belts, but if I suffer for my decisions why should you be responsible? I do not like government intrusion or regulation that drives jobs from a community. But I respect your right to accept those things even if I think they are detrimental. I accept your freedom to make mistakes as I expect you to honor mine.
We can change the world we live in. We probably won’t do it by heartless posts on Facebook and tweets in the Twitter-world. But we most likely will get to do it by visiting a neighbor.
Can we stop polarization in 6 days? Probably not. But we can stop it in our own lives. In our relationships.
Today-I encourage you to walk in the realm of peace. Be a peacemaker.