“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish arguments which only upset people and make them angry. God’s people must not be quarrelsome; they must be gentle, patient teachers of those who are wrong. Be humble when you are trying to teach those who are mixed up concerning the truth. For if you talk meekly and courteously to them they are more likely, with God’s help, to turn away from their wrong ideas and believe what is true. Then they will come to their senses and escape from Satan’s trap of slavery to sin which he uses to catch them whenever he likes, and then they can begin doing the will of God.” (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
I “lost” another family member on social media today. I had shared a blog post by Pastor John Pavlovitz about how the God of many Christians is too small. Granted, if anyone reading this is familiar with Pastor John Pavlovitz, they will know that he is also anti-President Trump. So the article/post targeted “MAGA Christians”, as he termed them. It criticized how many of the practices of our current administration don’t seem to jive with the teachings of Jesus. I read and re-read the post before sharing. While a part of me acknowledged that some of my social media friends might be offended by the content, a stronger part of me agreed with the overall gist of the post. Now, though I still agree with the overall gist, a part of me was reminded in my Bible reading this morning with the above passage of Scripture. Maybe not the content itself but was the wording too strong? Too in-your-face to be diplomatic? No quarrel, really, but now a rift that my people-pleasing self is quarreling with. And maybe the real issue isn’t about whether I agree with the content or not, but how tactful was I in sharing it, knowing very well that others might take offense–others near and dear to my heart?
Of course, there is a paradox in my thinking. One of the reasons I have been so sporadic in my blog posts in the last 12-16 months is that the people-pleaser has often been mute about my feelings out of a desire to keep the peace, so to speak. Growing up in an abusive household, you learn not to speak your truth…or the consequences could be severe. Since committing myself to blogging though, I’ve opened up more than a few cans of worms. Everything from an open discussion of alcoholism and abuse in my family to, yes, even some political views that others do not share. Not everybody appreciates such honesty…especially when they suspect it may reflect directly back onto themselves. I cannot help that and, another part of me says, “thou shalt not lie”. Maybe it’s time and past that I squashed the people-pleaser since her mute testimonies have paved the way for the infractions I currently face. However, the rejection, threats, and sometimes, open hostility, that such brutal honesty elicits smarts. And that smarting has, in many ways, stifled the creative “genius” because, even when I’m not discussing politics, I’ve had the rejection, threats and open hostility heaped upon me anyway. A difference in opinion is not tolerated. It has not only stifled the creative genius, it has stifled me, as a person, for much of my life. And, as I write this, I am feeling an outrage because these same individuals, with their routine and childish blocking and unfriending, perpetually ridicule and deride anyone whose views are even slightly more liberal than their own on social media day in and day out. A part of me wants to ask what makes it okay for them to share their opinions and feelings so openly but, when I, or others of similar opinion or feeling, speak out, we are vilified?
But I can’t ask anymore because the communication lines have been cut.
And my anger, if not checked right here at the proverbial door, will lead me down that slippery slope the above Scripture guards against.
Now, I truly have tried to stay away from politics on my blog. I can’t say the same for any social media platforms and that makes me guilty of feeding the division in our country. And there is division. And strife. And bigotry, racism and discrimination throughout. But, if I’m going to have a tagline about healing, well, this country is in need of healing…as is my heart in regard to many of the issues facing this nation, and the world. I don’t blame President Trump 100% for these issues; only for somehow shining the light upon them and bringing them into sharper focus. I’m not sure if it is truly intentional on his part, or just something about him that is getting under everybody’s skin. Either way, I feel a need to weigh in.
If one could register as Green Party here in Connecticut, there would be my affiliation. Everything that I am, or do, is about my faith and the environment. However, the last time I checked, while you could certainly vote Green Party here in CT, you could not be registered Green Party. The choices are Democrat, Republican and Independent. That’s it. As the Democratic Party tends to lean more on the environmental issues, and knowing Jill Stein simply wouldn’t receive enough votes to win, I am currently registered Democrat and I voted for Hillary in 2016. Yes, I know. There are many who consider her corrupt. I’m not here to bicker whether she is or isn’t. To be honest, I consider many of our politicians, on both sides of the blue and red aisle, to be corrupt. I voted for her because I did not want Trump to take office. I do not like his head-in-the-sand attitude about climate change. And, for me, that is one of the biggest issues we face, not only as a nation, but as a planet. Because there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, as our planet heats up, species die, landscapes alter, burn, flood, and/or desertify. We are all in this together…and time is running out.
Hence, one of the biggest issues this administration has perpetuated: refugees. I totally get that we have a real problem at our southern border. Drugs, human trafficking, and violence pervade. However, we have drugs and human trafficking coming across our northern border, too (Nixon). The only difference is that we have far more patrol agents at our southern border to catch and control that trafficking. According to an article in The New York Times, cameras frequently pick up on people slipping across the U.S./Canadian border but there aren’t enough agents along the northern border to catch them all. Those that have been caught, have often been carrying drugs, firearms, or else they’ve proven to be illegal immigrants. Why is this administration in such an uproar about our southern border but all but ignoring our northern one? What’s the difference? Unless the left are correct that it’s because of skin color and/or poverty…a poverty being perpetuated by climate change as crops fail and people migrate away from home to avoid starvation (Nam).
If our God is truly a mighty God, and not a tiny one, as John Pavlovitz accuses, then there is enough for our tired and poor, and our huddled masses. Didn’t Jesus feed thousands with a couple of fish and some bread? And, as I recall this favorite biblical story, they had leftovers after everyone had had their fill. Yes, proper channels for legal entry, rather than illegal, should be followed, but not every person coming up from Central America is coming here illegally. Or to commit any crimes. They’re coming for the same reasons as our ancestors–for a better life. Ditto for many of the refugees from the Middle East. I haven’t forgotten 9/11 but, not every Muslim is a terrorist, and I will not blame the whole Middle East, nor every Muslim, for the crimes and atrocities of a select few. That may lose me some readers; I can take it. My God, my Jesus, bade me to love my neighbor as myself, with no reference to the color of his/her skin, country of origin, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or any other mean thing that the adversary whispers lies about to divide us. A tiny God is a God of hate, fear, ignorance, discrimination and ridicule. A tiny God cannot accept differences and feels threatened by them. A tiny God will allow the hungry to starve, the thirsty to parch, and the cold to freeze…by closing his doors to those in need. The God of my consciousness? He’s far mightier. He’s a God of love and compassion and mercy. He’s a God who wants me to offer food and drink and shelter to the least of my brethren. He is a Creator of great diversity, an Artist, who revels in a wider color palette…and an Intellectual, capable of understanding and accepting different cultures, forms of worship, and schools of thought. My God is an awesome God. For Him, I can no longer serve small; I can no longer be silent. If I shut my eyes, my ears, my mind and my heart out of fear that I might rock the proverbial boat, then I am part of the problem.
The solution is to find a balance. This country has many issues that deserve to be addressed, conversations that deserve to be heard…and every walk of life allowed a voice in regard to all of them. I will continue to keep my lines of communication open. I will be open and honest, and stand up for what I believe to be right, but I will also strive to do so with evermore sensitivity and respect for those around me. In short, I will do unto others as I would have done unto me. And love my neighbor as myself.
May God bless you & keep you!
Nam, Michael. “Al Gore Takes a Swipe at Trump as He Says the REAL National Emergency is Climate Change-related Droughts in Central America Which He Claims are to Blame for Migrant Caravans Bound for the U.S.” Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6744267/Al-Gore-sees-national-emergency-climate-change-related-drought-causing-Central-American-refugees.html
Nixon, Ron. “As U.S. Watches Mexico, Traffickers Slip in from Canada.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/17/us/northern-border-illicit-crossing.html
Pavlovitz, John. “The Terribly Tiny God of MAGA Christians.” Stuff That Needs to be Said. https://johnpavlovitz.com/2019/04/11/the-terribly-tiny-god-of-maga-christians/?fbclid=IwAR2MMluXkjP21ArHsKFqi3D4vQtUgjbcVgY0dGDTTSADh0FNBDCBQUTTGTg