Social media gives us a ringside seat on the ugliness of the American Presidential election. Some of my friends and family are for Hilary and some are for Trump. Generally to keep peace we don’t attack our own family members but that doesn’t apply to the broader contacts who also read our posts. Their comments are sometimes vitriolic. Their argument boils down to “You are stupid for supporting HRC or DT. Can’t you see how awful she / he is.” The implication is that if DT or HRC were to be elected it would mean the end of life as we know it.
What can be done?
Basically nothing. The kinder gentler world we remember (if it really ever existed) will never return. The world of social media is real, and represents how people actually feel and think today. (They probably always felt and thought like this; we just didn’t have a continual window into their minds.) People ARE angry / fearful about the system — and neither liberals or conservatives can do very much to fix it or heal the deep conflicts that exist.
Paul’s lesson in Corinth
Corinth in the 1st century AD was a prosperous, diverse and religiously conflicted Roman city. Much like our current world. There was much debate among Christians about who was right about Jesus. Paul knew this and wrote to them: “When I came to you brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” [1 Corinthians 2: 1-2] He used this argument to point out to them that God worked in them, to create their faith, not Paul or Peter or others. Paul felt “Christ, and him crucified” said everything it was necessary to know about God.
What might this phrase say to us in the situation we find ourselves in?
Christ is the anointed one of God, his own son. God sent him to be crucified for all of us. How can we respond to each other with the anger we are now showing, knowing this?
You might say, “That person is pro-abortion.” Did Christ not die for them? Are they not entitled to our love, understanding and civility? I could go on but you get the point.
So what is a Christian to do?
Debate is essential to making rational choices. Debate is not win at all costs, including smearing our opponents. So Christians should strive to listen and understand others’ points of view before making up our mind.
But what about “character issues”? Judge a tree by its fruits. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [Galatians 5:22-23]
Lastly, Christians should remember that God didn’t come in power to transform the system. Jesus came in weakness. We shouldn’t expect political leaders to find solutions to the complex issues of the 21st century. Therefore, we each must practice “bottom-up” transformation, making our family and community more of a loving place.
Next time you read angry comments on Facebook or Twitter, try remembering these things. Spread some of your own peace transcending all understanding around. [Philippians 4:7]