I promise that I don’t want to start every one of these off with an apology, but the times demanded I get myself off my butt and put some of my feelings into actual words. As always, I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I’m seeing some very concerning things popping up in my Facebook feed as of late that I’d like to address.
I know that we are all gifted in so many different and wonderfully diverse ways, and we all have those different areas in which we are weak and in which we are strong. As Christians, we believe that discernment is one of those areas of gifting, one of a few that regardless of our natural levels of gifting we must work on. In my opinion, whether you say believe in God or not, I’m sure that you place some importance on being able to properly analyze information, news, problems that need to be solved, and many other things to formulate opinions that feed into your worldview, regardless of whether you’re naturally gifted in the area of discernment or you’ve had to work at it. I personally feel blessed to have a Christian background, a natural gift of discernment, and that I chose a career path that feeds into my need to problem solve and work out the reason behind everything, which is why I feel (kind of) qualified to post about this.
Relating to the theme of this blog, I learned the other day that “post-truth” was picked as Oxford Dictionary’s word for 2016. Post-truth refers to the phenomena in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. I’ll give you some prime examples: climate change, age of the Earth, and all things relating to this dumpster fire of an election that we recently went through. As someone who considers himself a man of faith first and a man of science second, I’ve seen a disturbing lack of discernment lately, and frankly it makes me a little ill. Now is when my opinions may offend, but I implore you to hear me out. Another term I’ve been hearing more and more about is the term ‘echo-chamber’ and that’s where we surround ourselves only with the people, ideas, and principles that we agree with, agree with us, and feed into our way of looking at the world.
We are barely into the Internet Age, but in my opinion the amount of fake news and blatant misinformation that everyone just spreads around because it feeds only what they currently think is insane. Whatever happening to vetting facts? Gathering your own information? Doing your own experiments to make sure that you’re not just putting out more garbage? Whatever you think about any issue, religion, scientific fact, or person please for the love of all that’s good don’t let your worldview stop you from loving people. I saw a lot of both “if you unfriend me because I voted Trump then good riddance” and “because I didn’t vote for Trump I’m more educated and have the moral high ground” type of comments.
Where people like me need to be careful though is that with our analytical minds we can come across as overly critical with people, so I don’t mean to trample on the ideals that you hold dear, whoever you are. I just ask that you look past the veneer that wants to just get you to agree. Posting an article from your one-sided “news” site doesn’t make you any more right (or wrong). Posting that you visited your local mosque once doesn’t make you a paragon of multi-cultural American virtue. How we love our friends, neighbors, and strangers every single day determines who we are. Your character is more important than your charisma, and your mouth (or facebook posts) will ONLY reflect what is truly in your heart.
There are so many inconvenient truths out there that we cannot ignore just because they make us feel bad. I’ll give you a personal example; as the husband to a woman who works at an animal shelter, there is so much that I guarantee you don’t know. My wife is the one who has to euthanize the animals that no one wants because those people either go to breeders or buy from puppy mills (look those up if you want to feel terrible for a few hours). My wife is the one who has to deal with irresponsible pet owners who give up a pet because they’re moving, they got a new pet, or they’re not willing to actually put an ounce of effort into training the little scamp. Sure, there are posts on facebook that show the horrors of what some of these animals go through, but there are just as many happy stories about shelter pets going to great homes and living great lives.
My point is this: for every post that you agree with there is another that disagrees with you. For every happy post there is a sad one, and for every fact there is a lie. Let’s all agree that the bad stuff is out there, and that we will all deal with it when we need to, and we must love each other all the same while we do it. However, I beg you, stop posting the bullshit. Don’t feed the demons. Think about how you can help bring people together instead of dividing them. You might say “that’s rich, you just got me really pissed off at you!” If so, I can only apologize that you feel that way. My only hope that with this post is that I haven’t caused any more division, my goal is only to help spread the power of discernment so that we all can be better for it!