“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” –George Bernard Shaw
That’s a pretty fair description of the wrangling we’ve all seen across the media for the past year.
And, it’s one reason I stopped blogging as much for a while. Having a helpful, distinctive voice when emotions are running high is next to impossible. People have their radars up just looking for bias and they react without much thought.
Recently I posted something on social media that annoyed a number of people. It was a fair article from the NYT’s, but its provocative title drew fire. I understand we all have that friend or colleague who forwards echoing propaganda. That kind of demagoguery usually backfires and ends debate rather than inviting it. It starts to appear as though everyone is just leveraging for their point of view, so we grow dismissive, putting the opposition in a box.
Two cautions about boxes….
Beware of the “Spiritual” box
Like a child eating dinner, some people want faith and politics on the same plate but not to touch. They’re more comfortable thinking of the spiritual and the material as separate. This is not a biblical perspective. It’s Deism—the idea that God wound up the universe and stepped way back.
(I hope) most people who read my stuff expect me to deal fairly with issues. I’m not perfect, and when I stray, boy does iron start sharpening iron! But staying entirely above the fray of politics is a cop out. It contributes to a disconnect between the pursuit of God and the living of everyday life. Nonsense. If there is no God, then everything is permissible and nothing is spiritual. If God exists, then everything has spiritual implications.
Reactive people need help thinking outside their box
I appreciate Shaw’s caution, about wrestling with a pig. When you weigh-in on a discussion that is just so much “tit for tat,” you can get drawn downward. Indeed I launched this blog hoping to elevate online dialogue and build bridges, not to throw stones while guarding my glass house. But my larger purpose is to underscore the relevance of faith in daily life. We must risk getting into the fray.
Edwin Friedman puts it this way. “You must stay in the triangle without getting triangulated.” By analogy, parents shouldn’t get reduced to the level of their kids’ petty arguments, but they should get down on their level to model how to do it differently. So too with civil discourse. The question is not whether to engage but how.
“If you have all knowledge…but have not love, you are nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).