So apparently there was some election this week. Weird, right? Have you heard anything about it?
Hardy har har...
I frankly have nothing to say about the results of the election. I'm taking my own advice and bowing out on this one. However, there's something that the election has made acutely obvious and that is particularly insidious. Many of us live in an echo chamber.
The idea of a social media echo chamber suggests that many people only interact with like-minded people over social media. The echo chamber constantly reinforces our own opinions. We read the same news stories or studies with the facts that back up our previously held beliefs. In the echo chamber, we never face any dissent; there are no challengers. We're never forced to wrestle with ideologies not our own.
I've seen an alarming number of people on Facebook in recent days "unfriending" people who "voted for Trump" or who are deemed hateful, etc. While I understand some of the sentiment behind "removing negativity", I can't condone it. Silencing the opposition is not the answer, especially when they are still making plenty of noise outside. Ignoring a problem never makes it go away.
One of the biggest problems facing our very divided nation is our near total inability to interact with people we disagree with. The "other" is strange, different, alien, or worse. They're ignorant, hateful, racist, or elitist. And we make matters worse when we reinforce our echo chambers and press the "mute" button on anyone whose voice may challenge our own. Much is being made of diversity and reconciliation in today's culture, but ignoring people you disagree with or writing them off as ignorant and uninformed is not the solution to this massive issue. Each side begins shouting when they realize the other isn't listening, but all that happens is a lot of noise.
As Christians, this is especially important. We live as foreigners in a land not our own. We are waiting for Christ to come and establish his kingdom in full. What then can we expect but to find people we disagree with? Yet, it would be the pinnacle of ungodliness to ignore these people, our ideological enemies because of the example set before us by Jesus. God, in his goodness descended to us in the person of Jesus Christ while we still hated him in our ungodliness. We were enemies of God, but far from ignoring us, he pursued us in mercy, knowing our greatest need.
We must open our eyes and ears to those whom we disagree with in kindness. We must show compassion. We must seek to understand the "other's" problems if we hope to offer any solution.