Here are a few of my favorite recent posts from my Facebook newsfeed. The posts are original works by my Facebook Friends, and they’re published with their permission. I look for well-written vignettes and well-crafted art that are positive, meaningful, uplifting, relatable, and sometimes hilarious. To me, these works deserve to be preserved, published, and not left to fade away on the Facebook feed. So, job well done, writers, poets, and artists. May your words and works live on to encourage and entertain for many days to come.
But then yesterday happened: A day for grief and a hopeful silver lining
By Debbie Johnson
Castle Rock, Colorado
Today (January 7), I’d planned on starting a series on “forgetting what lies behind and pressing on to what lies ahead.” I think we can take lessons from the past and turn them into goals.
But then yesterday (January 6) happened. As the oft-quoted Preston Clegg said yesterday, “When you sow power without virtue, authority without accountability, prosperity without justice … when you sow lies, hatred, vitriol, racism, sexism, nationalism, nativism, and fear over and over again … you reap days like today. I’ll never forget it. The people who supported it. The people who quietly enabled it. And a large part of the church that paved the way for this madness.”
Today’s a day for grieving — for our country, for the people who still support the madness, and for the massive damage that has been done. Maybe, however, there’s a silver lining. One can hold conservative values without supporting the madness. I’m watching a person here, a person there, turn in that direction. God have mercy. Show us the way to sanity.
True to myself: Modeling the behaviors we value in our leaders
By Beth Bricker Davis
When I was growing up, I don’t remember ever hearing politics being discussed in my home. The older I get, the more I pay attention to them. Of course, with 24-hour news stations and social media, it’s hard to escape awareness of them.
With age, it matters to me more that our leaders are effective and truthful, dignified, and respectful. That they represent our country with grace, compassion. and knowledge. That they rely on others who are leaders in their respective fields, including math and science, to help develop comprehensive plans to address complex problems. That they demonstrate behavior and vision to which young people can aspire. That they encourage education and self-development.
I understand that political leaders are just humans. They aren’t perfect and neither am I. My hope is always for leaders who truly care about what best serves most people, and work hard to achieve it, by gathering information and striving to negotiate differences through education and effective listening.
And there are causes that matter deeply to me, like inclusion, the health of this planet, racial and gender equality, fair and equal wages, affordable healthcare, attention to the arts and humanities, the creation of sustainable jobs, etc. I have to work very hard not to be negatively affected by the words I hear and the behaviors I see. My job is to be true to myself and attempt to model all those behaviors that I so value. My job is to stop believing that I can control anyone else but myself.
Paying it forward: It’s a time to be giving
By Terri Hengstler Barnes
So today I went to take lunch to my sister, Tracey, and went to Burger King. When I pulled up to the window to pay, the worker told me the lady in front of me paid for mine! I’ve never had this happen to me before and was so surprised. It wasn’t cheap either, as I got three meals and something for my dog. How sweet of the lady! The worker told me she said something like, it was a time to be giving. Something good in a world gone mad is just what I needed today.
Finding truth in an age of social media myopia
By Jeffrey Jansen
My personality is that of a peacemaker. Events of the last few days, weeks, months and year are making it hard for me to sleep. So, instead of sleeping I have to get this off my chest. All truth is God’s truth. I believe that. It was taught and emphasized at the Christian university that I attended, let’s just say it was a few years back.
Truth. I believe that God created us all equal but different, or maybe better said, unique. I thank God for that! Imagine how boring it would be if we were all alike and if we all thought alike. We’d still be in a cave somewhere or still think the earth is flat. All art would be in the same style, music would have the same melody. We get great inventions and scientific discoveries because people think outside the box. The Mozarts, the Miles Davises, the Beetles, the Rembrandts, Picassos, and Frida Kahlos. The Katherine Johnsons, Elon Musks, Marie Curies, and Alexander Flemings. I could go on and on. My point is, because God made us unique, we have beauty, creativity, discovery, excellence.
We are living in the age of information. Information at our fingertips, on our phones, laptops and pads. Go to Google, look it up. More information than our grandparents ever dreamed of. They had encyclopedias and libraries. It took effort and time to look things up, to find the truth. Now, we’re able to get information at the snap of a finger, not much work at all. But is that information true? There is so much information and it’s getting hard to decipher the truth. We find statistics to back up our personal views but disregard information that doesn’t support the so-called truth we want to put forward. Much of the information coming out now has an agenda, not to speak truth but to put forth the part of the truth that helps the cause. And if we want to get truthful information from the news media (left and right) these days, we’ll be sorely lacking the whole truth. Whole speeches are reduced to soundbites to help or hurt the person or organization giving the lecture, speech, or press briefing. Most news is lacking context and leans toward their agenda. And now they are not even covering things if they will hurt their agenda. So much for objective reporting of the truth. And if you get your news from Twitter, there is no hope.
Since we all have different points of view, we have opinions on what is right and true. It’s easy and pleasurable to be with people who have similar worldviews. We tend to gravitate to people who think like us. Of course, it’s always been that way. If our grandparents wanted to talk with someone, it was face to face or, if not in close proximity, then, by letter. If there were disagreements, it was done in person, or by phone, or mailed letter knowing, eventually, at some point, their paths would cross. So, at the risk of a serious confrontation, most people would consider what they were saying and maybe be a little more diplomatic — or get punched in the nose. Now, we get on our electronic devices, go to social media, and if someone offends or disagrees with us, we’re able to trash them and say the most awful, crude, demeaning things — many times without even knowing who the person is. And there are no consequences. The profane has no meaning anymore.
The use of social media has caused us to become more myopic. We go to our favorite people on websites and apps to read and communicate with, and programmed algorithms find more just like them for us. That, in and of itself, is ok. But are we getting caught in an echo chamber where we are hearing the same things over and over, and we like it? Left and right, opposing sides. You’re in your corner, I’m in mine, and we come out fighting. We don’t want to step out of our comfort zones, because if we hear something that is contradictory we don’t like it. But to be real, sometimes the truth hurts. Hopefully, we are open-minded enough to accept the truth that hurts.
Out of the social media myopia has come the cancel culture. If we don’t believe the same things as someone else, then we can just cancel or unfriend one another. We cry out for diversity and tolerance, but, truthfully, only for those people who agree with us. People who don’t think like us are dangerous and must be kept silent. We say that want the nation to reconcile and come together, but others have to toe the line and think like us. Yesterday, the big tech giants decided who should be able to speak and who shouldn’t, shutting down people who don’t think like they want us to think. I’ve always believed in free speech, the first amendment right to speak no matter how offensive it is. We can choose to be offended or ignore it.
The same people who are indignant about McCarthyism, the shameful Hollywood blacklisting of the 1950s (and rightly so), are now wanting to cancel or blacklist the people they think are dangerous or don’t think like them. Twitter, Facebook, Google, and YouTube have shut down conservative pages and accounts. They’ve been fact-checking with an agenda. Since that has happened, many conservatives have moved to more open platforms like Parler and MeWe. Now the Apple Store and Google Play are removing those apps as well. Big tech CEOs say they want us to heal but then they censor our thoughts, opinions, and, yes, some truths. No one has a monopoly on the truth except God. I think it’s a recipe for disaster when you censor half the population’s right to express free thought and speech.
Let’s break away from our myopia. Have lunch, coffee or even a Zoom meeting with a friend who may have an opposing view to ours. Get to know them. What do they like in music and food, learn about their family. Neither of us are dangerous! Look them in the eyes and find common ground. Have the guts to agree or disagree on some things. Find the truth about them. We are all unique, let’s not try to make everyone think the same.
Politics has been polarizing since the beginning of time because we’re all unique. Early in our nation’s history, the Founding Fathers had bitter arguments and feuds. We as a nation have to decide whether we want to be like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams or Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Hamilton’s and Burr’s conflict, of course, ended in death for Hamilton by a bullet from Burr’s gun, and the end of Burr’s political career and his arrest for treason.
I would prefer to end up like Jefferson and Adams. Though friends for at first, their political disagreements caused a bitter rift in their relationship for twelve years. But, in time, with humility they began to correspond in writing, and for the next 14 years they worked out their differences. One of the coolest things about their lives was that they remained friends until they both died on July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after they had both signed the Declaration of Independence.
The fact is, truth is getting harder to find in our society. Let’s first find the truth in the lives of our neighbors. Be like Jesus and do unto others as you would have them do to you. It begins with me.
God, help me to remember this verse in the New Testament, James 1:19–20, in this time of confrontation: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.