Tired of divisive rhetoric

(Gary Ellingson) #1

I am fatigued by excessive vitriolic Facebook postings from all sides: some even stating one cannot be a Christian with an opinion inconsistent with their own. Not wanting to engage at their level, I posted this to my Facebook page this afternoon hoping to reframe the discussion: We just celebrated Christmas, one of the most beautiful times of year. I have always loved the passage in the Gospels that stated someday “the government would rest upon his shoulders.” Strangely enough, that is one reason Jesus was crucified: many were frustrated that Jesus was not there to fix the problems of a single nation. He came as the Lamb of God, to be slain for the sins of the whole world. He is coming again appropriately named the Blessed Hope. Amen! Even so come Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

I am wondering if this is an appropriate response. Maranatha!

(SeanO) #2

@Gary_Ellingson I think it is to unifying to remember that Christ came for all nations - not just for one nation. And that God saved that one nation in order that other nations might see its Light and come to the true God.

One thing I may leave out is “not wanting to engage at their level”. Phrases such as this one could prevent you from reaching the very people who need to hear your message the most because they may view themselves as the targets of this statement.

I was recently encouraged to watch this TED Talk promoting unity across the political spectrum.

(Carson Weitnauer) #3

Hi @Gary_Ellingson, I understand! From time to time, I have experienced very ugly rhetoric on Facebook and Twitter. I have tried to charitably respond in each circumstance. In other words, not to let the attitudes of others define my approach. But, rather, to be formed by Jesus so that I can consistently be kind, empathetic, and still straightforward in my online interactions. I am hopeful that Connect will be a relational environment where we learn these habits and attitudes together - and can bring that approach into other online environments!

That said, I have had moments where, upon reflection, or thanks to private messages from friends, I have seen that I started the conversation in an unnecessarily confrontational manner. A spirit of self-righteousness, “I’m just going to be honest”, and so on, can undermine communication from the very beginning.

For instance, if there is a divisive issue being discussed in the national media, to post an article that only represents and forcefully argues for one side of that discussion, this is likely to attract people who are on ‘the other side’ to post responses that are as one-sided in their response as my initial post was in its own way. Now the divisive rhetoric has come full circle!

In light of this, I have tried to find ways of asking questions, charitably exploring another person’s point of view, acknowledging the good points made by people who otherwise disagree with me, and simply starting conversations in as fair a way as possible. Instead of, “I know [this group of people] will never believe it, here are the facts!” to say, “My understanding is that the following points are factually well-established. This leads me to conclude that X is the best course of action. I’m curious to hear other perspectives.”

I’d be interested to hear from you and other members of Connect - what are the best ways to start and build conversations on Facebook (and other platforms) that build trust between people with different viewpoints?