The word I’m tired of hearing
I’ve been scrolling through social media, deeply disturbed by much of what I’ve read—even the opinions of people who are kind and generous, even the ones with whom I agree. I finally figured out why.
Because there is one word that I hear over and over, and it doesn’t belong at all: BUT.
And it makes me tired of the whole discussion.
Don’t get me wrong. We NEED to talk.
But not in the same way we have been.
Somehow our country has gone from united to divided. Every single issue has become us vs. them. We can no longer offer an opinion without tacking on a judgment. We hear things like this: I think gay people should have rights, BUT I think homosexuality is a sin. I do not discriminate BUT I am not responsible for what happens. I like him BUT he is a Muslim. I thought she was a Christian BUT she voted for Obama.
I think the BUT needs to go away.
When did we as a country decide that it’s not just okay but expected to contribute our own personal judgment or assessment of every issue? Not all that long ago people could be friends with those with different faiths. Respect the office of President of the US, even of an opposing political party, without agreeing with the policies or actions of the person holding the office. Disagree on opinions yet still have civil conversations. Hold an open-minded dialog to gather information in order to make informed decisions. But now, particularly through our friends on social media, we insulate ourselves, surrounding ourselves with those who have like-minded views. As soon as the opinions diverge, we click unfriend.
We use people’s views as a way to classify them. Are they a Christian? A Muslim? An atheist? Are they LGBTQ or straight? Are they black or white? Democrat or Republican? As soon as we can classify them into a category that we are not in, we disregard what they have to say.
I don’t understand the prevalent mentality in which we post things to defend our own point of view—not to enlighten others but to use as a trump card. Ha! They agree with me! Take that! I’m not going to cheer when the witty Christian outsmarts the atheist or despair when science diverges from my faith. I’m not going to buy into the concept that being a follower of Jesus dictates which political party I must support. I’m not going to let myself be categorized according to just one aspect of who I am, and I’m going to try very hard not to do that to someone else.
Don’t get me wrong. I have strong opinions and I’m not afraid to share them, and I’ve lost a few blog followers as a result. I do want to know where you’re coming from—not as a way to categorize you but as a way to ground what you’re about to say. I enjoy debate, but I try not to engage those who I sense will not be respectful or kind. I try to be careful about when and how to have those discussions, because I think they are important and I want to treat them respectfully—and because in the last few years I’ve found myself going to great lengths to avoid drama.
And right now what I feel is that nobody is listening. I don’t want to talk when I have to shout to be heard. When each comment sparks a venomous attack. When every single topic comes down to an immediate assessment regarding whose side the speaker is on—ours or theirs.
God calls us to unity. Every single classification or difference, every battle, every tragedy or triumph seems to further fragment us—as a country, as a community, as a church.
To be frank, when a discussion comes down to us vs. them, it’s probably not going to be very productive. It is only when we realize that we are all in this together, only when we strive to improve life for all of us as a whole, only when we are willing to offer respect and dignity and compassion and understanding in equal measure to what we expect to receive, that any of this talking is going to do any good for anyone.
So for now, I’m remaining quiet on the big things happening in the world around me, but it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I don’t know the answers and I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. Instead, I’m adopting these words from the Bible as my prayer and my hope. Will you join me?
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17, NIV