I’ve never felt as tempted to quit the Facebook as I have the past few months. I don’t mind genuine political discussion, but the name calling and fake news posts and confirmation bias slathered all over it has me shaking my head. Calls to deport undocumented people, recount votes and ban muslims, to make America great again in so doing are irrational and a huge, shameless display of prejudice. Any time one speaks about a people or community wholesale, one must be incredibly careful, considering their words first.
I’ve had the occasional argument about this here and there the past few months, too. Nothing major, I promise. It’s happened online and off, with people for or against a cause, by those who have interpreted and misinterpreted communication or the lack thereof. And it’s fine, I guess. As a minister, I’ve signed up for a bit of abuse and I mostly do well with it. Mostly. As I’ve navigated social situations and scrolled past posts written in all caps, I’ve wanted to ask some of these people, when was the last time you were wrong?
When was the last time you were wrong?
When did you last apologize for a misspoken word or thoughtless action? How long has it been since you realized you may have misunderstood a text, a tweet or situation and responded poorly? Were you wrong about Bernie Sanders? Hillary Clinton? Even the Donald? Are you humble enough to admit it? Or perhaps too insecure to even go there?
I’ve asked myself this question, as well as the ones that necessarily follow. Turns out I’m wrong often (did I just call myself humble? Subtle exultation is best. It has much more credibility than anything more dramatic). It seems that we have forgotten that as broken humans, we make mistakes. Our perceptions are limited, which exacerbates a plethora of problems. But still, we yell at or condemn others when we espy a glimmer of disagreement. We return slight for slight, blow for blow then things escalate from there.
If we aren’t wrong and somebody else is, must we attack and destroy? Make our philosophical enemies Twitter infamous and cause them to lose their job? It’s not my preference, but I say that as a man who’s needed grace, both divine and social. Do I always give it? Of course not. All of us have days where we find ourselves nearing emotional bankruptcy, during which it becomes easier to snap at someone, if not more, but that isn’t the same as an all-out pursuit with destruction in mind, is it?
Part of the problem is that we’ve eschewed opinion or preference for truth. The subjective has been elevated over the objective. Telling someone that their inclination is wrong (misinformed, uneducated, reactive) is tantamount to verbal assault these days. What once upon a time was a simple correction or redirection- even a statement of differing opinion is now interpreted as hurtful, inflammatory or worse.
All of this is killing me, just a little right now.
I wanted to get this out before Thanksgiving, but I had enough on my plate to prevent that from happening. So, I ask this, with Christmas dinners and gatherings on the horizon: Can we just take a quiet moment now and ask, when was the last time I was wrong? If it’s been some time (weeks, months, years?), perhaps some soul-searching is due. If that question irritates or rubs you the wrong way, maybe that’s a sign.Ask yourself the question. The people around you may thank you for it.