Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right,whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Phillippians 4:8)
I am trying to follow this verse, but today I find it difficult to do so. I find myself saddened by the world. I know I am supposed to be “in, but not of”, yet sometimes my heart breaks from what I see. I have problems shutting it out, and it takes hold of my mind.
Many times I have wondered how people could have thought it was okay to support the Holocaust, or how people could watch others being tossed to lions and cheer. Such bloodthirst is almost incomprehensible to me. Yet, I am seeing that mentality more and more in our “modern” society.
I remember a time when adults could discuss or “passionately debate” beliefs and politics and walk away remaining as friends. Sometimes they even looked forward to ribbing their peers but rarely was hate or harmful intentions involved. If someone was accused of breaking the law, most would wait until all the facts were in to make a judgement. “Innocent until proven guilty” was the way of thinking by all but a few. Today that no longer seems the case.
Reading social media has become an exercise in fortitude. “Social justice warriors” are an increasing trend, and suddenly it seems like people of all ages feel they can wish harm or death to anyone who dares to have an opposing view, or does something that person doesn’t like. The hate that comes spewing through the keyboards is horrifying to me. It’s as if empathy and having a concious are vanishing. The recently finished presidential election is a good example.
In October, the amount of hate and violence eminating from the screen caused me to shut everything down and walk away until recently. Today I read about a propane supplier in Maine who said any Trump supporter could find a new supplier, because he no longer wanted them as customers. Over half of votes in his county, his primary customer base, voted for Trump. That seems to be akin to shooting oneself in the foot. Another employer told employees that anyone who voted for Trump can find a new job. A diner posted a sign stating certain voters weren’t welcome.
I watched friends lose friends they’ve known for years because they were voting opposite of each other. My personal Facebook page news feed has supporters of several candidates. Some of the vitriol between those who had been friends for decades broke my heart. Obviously, I did not agree with all of them, but not once did I think of “unfriending” them. To me, their friendship overrides an election.
News stories seem to bring out the true self of many. The fires in Tennessee brought forth those gloating over all the “Trump supporters” who had lost their homes. Several made statements hoping they would burn and die. I guess they thought only those voters had homes in the area.
A child took off from his parents, fell into the gorilla area at a zoo, and the gorilla had to be shot which brought forth comments saying the child “should have been left to die to save the gorilla”, the “mom should be thrown to gorillas and ripped apart”, the mom “should lose all her kids”, and a disturbing “feed her to the lions”.
Then enters the mob mentality. One person posts a horrible comment, someone reads it and types something agreeing; it can rapidly snowball until all you see is hate and violence overshadowing the calmer and more logical comments. Reading shows how easily people can be raised/taught to support things like the Roman arenas. These words are said on Facebook, news sites and other public forums where anyone, including friends and employers, can see them, yet they don’t seem to care.
Some say it is the “millenials”, but I disagree. I’ve seen compassionate and hateful comments from all age groups, races, sexual orientations, etc. It is not an age problem; it is a heart problem. I don’t have the answers to “fix” it. I wish I did. The world will be the world.
What I truly find disheartening is some of the comments are actually coming from self-proclaimed Believers. They seem to forget “…from his mouth speaks that which overflows his heart” (Luke 6:45). Online our fingers become our mouths. These comments show their hearts, and the last thing Believers need to do is encourage a return of the “Romans”.
Where is the love of Yeshua/Jesus in their comments? Where is His loving corrections? His empathy? His compassion? His teachings? Why can we not comment from those leanings instead of perpetuating hate and violence?
Please Bretheren, pray for me as I will pray for you. Let us not speak hate through our mouths or fingers. Let us stand together in calm amidst the storm, remain steadfast, and share the love and gentle correction God so freely gave to us. Only then can we reach those who need love far more than hate.