2020 has been a bit much. I don’t think any of us expected this year to bring all the challenges, chaos, and craziness that we are all experiencing every single day. Everything that is thrown at us seems to deepen the political divide in our nation. Add to that it’s an election year and it’s difficult to see any ending to the ceaseless arguments anytime soon.
We all have differing opinions and we are all right to have whatever opinion we hold. I’ve struggled this year because, while I do hold some opinions that differ from the popular ones in my circle, mostly I don’t see anyone seeking to understand each other. In fact, what I see most is pretty toxic.
Now, most of my social media friends hold a republican perspective, with only a few holding an opposing view. So, what I am seeing is probably not balanced, but what I see from much of the far right is presenting their viewpoint in an angry posture, attacking those who don’t agree. I would go as far as to say that much of the republican party comes across as bullies, in the past week I have seen my friends calling people, sheep, nazis, and libtards. Not just one or two people either. This display of aggression has left me grieved. I definitely struggle to see the love of Jesus in the midst of our political landscape.
Proverbs 17:27-28 (NLT) A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.
Proverbs 18:2 (NLT) Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.
I just want to remind us of these scriptures today. Sometimes the more we talk the more damage we cause. I do believe we have a big problem in our culture today of airing our opinions, but not taking any time to understand the perspective of others. We absolutely are guilty of assuming what they believe and arguing against our own assumptions rather than their actual opinion. Perhaps that’s what makes it an argument rather than a discussion?
Here is what I know, foolish people think they have all the answers and proceed recklessly, while the wise seek to understand. I can’t help to think of what I often refer to in my own head as “new guitar player syndrome.” Many times when asking a young musician about their skill level they will broadcast that they are SO GOOD, hyping up their own abilities. Then during the audition, it becomes clear that they are actually pretty terrible. They don’t yet know enough to realize how much they still have to learn.
Here is the bottom line. When you think you are the expert, you stop learning— when really you should work the hardest to continue learning. Information is constantly changing, or flat out wrong. Our culture is constantly shifting. Forming a balanced opinion takes a lot of work. It takes genuinely listening to opposing views. It takes getting information from more than one source. Honestly, many times news networks aren’t even reporting on the same stories, and when they do it’s so different. How can anyone form a balanced belief by only listening to one side of an argument? Ask any parent with multiples kids
One final thought, and this is just something I can’t help but wonder. There is a clear divide between the younger generations and older generations. It’s only getting wider. What if it is partly because the younger is still listening and seeking to learn, while the older are more prone to filtering their information through preferred beliefs and bias? I don’t have any studies or evidence to back up my theory, just something I’m thinking about.
I hope that we can all take the path of wisdom, seek to genuinely listen and learn. I would love to see a united nation, where it’s okay to have different opinions. I would love to see discussions rather than arguments. But most of all I would love to see people of love and understanding, even in the midst of disagreement.