Here it is…40 days until the next presidential election.
I have enjoyed blogging on Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White* but it seems as if I have been on this book forever. Finally, I have crossed the threshold into part III: “Politics and Ethics in the Center,” the last part of the book.
My plan is to write on the current state of politics from the point of view of a Christian seeking peace [using the book as my springboard] and I plan to have the book wrapped up by November 8. Then we will begin a new book, maybe on prayer, maybe on healing [not sure yet]. I suspect [as a nation] we will need prayer and healing after November 8.
Some of you may have wondered why I would pick a book like this. I am going to explain myself by being blunt: too many people in our world today see life in a polarized way. They see their perspective as the right perspective and anyone not having their viewpoint is wrong. They see the world as black and white.
How did we get this way?
I am going to present three of my theories, knowing you may discard them outright. They are only personal theories, attempts to explain behavior and of course they are not scientific.
Information Overload: Today we have so much media exposure. We are bombarded by messages all day long. How do we cut through all the stuff that is tossed our way through TV, computers, phones? We usually latch on to the information that grabs our attention. Media people know that the most sensational presentation of information will have an impact. That is why they put so many BREAKING NEWS reports on television today. News does flow faster than it did in the past because so many of us are connected to media and so many of us connected people have a way to film something and post something but we must keep this in mind: all news is not BREAKING. When we hear the sensational, we attend to the sensational at the expense of other things that are happening in our world.
Laziness: This is tough to admit. It is for me. When we are the recipients of so much information, it taxes our brains to handle all the stuff that comes at us. To get at the truth of what is going on in our world requires great commitment. You have to dig deeper than the headlines. You have to go beyond the news anchor who says 50 words telling you what has happened. You have to start doing a little research yourself. Most of us are too lazy to do that. We just accept the bits and pieces that are tossed at us and we develop an opinion and then we move on. If you have a rock-solid black or white attitude to begin with, the information gets categorized as information I agree with or information I don’t agree with and you know what happens next: thinking stops.
Exaggerated Sense of Importance: Blame it on the media, blame it on technology… no it is really our fault. Too many times we fall prey to feeling that we are the center of the universe. We are asked to log on and chat with people who are producing our favorite show, we are asked to vote for our favorite dancer on DWTS, we are encouraged to post the events of our life on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.
Should anyone really care?
The answer is no…they shouldn’t.
But we keep on doing it anyhow. We have to express ourselves. Don’t get me wrong; expression is not a bad thing [after all, I am writing a blog post] but to express ourselves with the idea that other people should care about our every thought is carrying it too far. Someone somewhere may get something from your expression but for the most part, most people will not. This leads to people who are so self-centered that they share information on a social media network that should be left unshared. Sometimes it may be personal, it may be political, it may be judgmental of others but for many it does not matter. They share it anyhow. They don’t have a “filter.” Then they get a response that is emotional from someone who does not agree.
Where is that response coming from? Someone who just does not see the world the way they do. Maybe you have expressed an idea that is from a “black” point of view but someone else is looking at the world through a “white” lens.
What can happen to us if we think before we speak? What can happen to us if we keep an open mind before we come to a conclusion about something? We may begin to understand that other people have valid points of view.
It is called “walking in someone else’s shoes.”
Like many people this past Monday night, I watched a presidential debate and one debater used a word which was very meaningful to me—implicit bias. “Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.”**
In that debate context, so many people were watching the two candidates through black or white lenses but the two words implicit bias are words we all have to own. Every one of us has this and it is the lens we look out of when we look at our world. It is part of being human. Yet we don’t want to admit that we have it. We want to get others to think we are above having it, but the honest truth of the matter is, we all have it. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” That’s Paul from Romans 7:15. That’s honesty. I have cited it before. Paul is putting himself out there and his statement is brutal. He admits being human. He admits that he is controlled by his human nature.
We should consider following his lead. When it comes to the next 40 days it would be best for us to be honest. We need to admit our limitations and work with them as much as we can. We need to admit that none of us have the corner on the market of truth. We only have our own little opinions. We probably need to make an effort to understand others because people with different opinions than your own are rarely purely evil. They have good ideas that can usually complement our good ideas.
We need to find a way to make the best choice we can on November 8, live with how we came to our choice and whatever the result, come together as a nation and try to make our country better.
Take a moment and just think about these simple but profound words from the Preamble to our Constitution: “in Order to form a more perfect Union.” To me, we are not there yet: the perfect union. We will never be there. Our country is in the process of trying to form a more perfect Union. We are always trying to get it right.
Have you ever thought about this?
Maybe the process continues with you and continues with me.
*written by Pastor Adam Hamilton
**From the “Kirwin Institute Website”, 9/29/16.