Are you tired of hearing the storm of hostility, name calling and demonizing that is going on in our country? It seems to be at its absolute worst with our political leaders. Sometimes, I wish everyone would just turn off Twitter. Just stop it! Everyone. Both sides. Hush!
It is all over social media. Can you believe some of the Facebook posts you see? Things are posted that I don't think people would ever consider saying to another person face to face. Recent research indicates that while negative and uncivil social media posts continue to increase, uncivil in-person exchanges have declined. Things we say tend to be more uncivil when we know the other person cannot respond directly to us.
Why is this so? Why do our politicians practice such rhetoric? Our political leaders (both parties) know that if they can demonize the other side, it helps them raise more money. And people have bought into it - hook, line and sinker. It works.
But there are other, even more unhealthy affects of the uncivil rhetoric we hear every day coming out of Washington and then mimicked throughout our land. It divides us. It maximizes our differences and minimizes what we have in common. It prevents us from working together to resolve our differences and remedy significant problems. In effect, it paralyzes.
It creates fear in us. Fear of others. Fear of the future. Some use this fear that they have created in us to their advantage. It is a way in which they can manipulate us to do what they want.
Unfortunately, it has also contributed to a more violent and destructive culture. Many of the violent episodes we see are a direct result of seeing the objects of such violence as the enemy that the violent actor is justified in acting against.
How do we, as followers of Jesus Christ, respond to all of this hostility, demonizing and uncivil discourse? We might begin by thinking about how do we think Jesus would respond. What would he say or do? Surely, as his followers, we want to stand where he stands, say what he says and do what he does.
Jesus said "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you... Do to others as you would have them do to you... Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:27-36).
And Paul, one of the most dedicated followers of Jesus and probably his most gifted and inspired spokesman, wrote "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). Paul is reminding us that the enemy is not the other person, but Satan and his angels that encourage such hostility and use it for their purposes.
It seems to me that Jesus would stand right in the middle of this raging storm of hostility, demonizing, uncivil discourse and attacks and say to all on all sides "HUSH, LOVE EACH OTHER. THE OTHER PERSON IS NOT THE ENEMY. DON'T LET SATAN WIN!"
Let's stand with Jesus!