Suffice it to say, Facebook is the hotbed for political ranting, discussions and debates, and it isn’t confined to only the times of an election. People seem most comfortable discussing a woman’s reproductive capabilities, religion, the weather, and…politics. And for some reason, politics are the most charged, particularly when they are in a faceless forum like Facebook & Twitter. Without the accountability of a face-to-face interaction, there is no need to have any respect, any tongue-holding, or any grace for a different perspective. Instead, the internet becomes the filterless battleground for any and all political perspectives, and frequently these perspectives come with absolutely no substantiating evidence behind them.
I’ve become quite interested in politics over the course of my adult life, as it pertains to my ministry, personal life and such, but I become rather frustrated when the political arguments are associated with hostility, aren’t shared with respect and grace to the opposing perspective, or backed up by theological, scriptural or factual evidence, then frankly, they do not deserve to be had. Political opinions are a right in this country, that is undeniable, and yet, the ability to express them is a privilege. And yet, when the right to express an opinion is abused by allowing it to be abusive in the first place, it loses its power and authority.
Most frequently, I saw a debate occur on Facebook between two individuals regarding a political election, where one side was more educated on the candidate than the other, and was able to substantiate their argument based on actual fact. While the two parties were certainly in opposition to one another, the first party, party A we shall call them, became defensive, likely because they couldn’t provide educated evidence to their point, and was simply “shooting from the hip.” Their feelings were sufficient to make a political point truth, rather than depending upon actual factual truth, despite the fact that such a thing is not so (and in the end, they came out the [sore] loser in the argument). While party B’s point was less than tasteful at times in my opinion (I don’t agree with the political party & candidate they were agreeing with), they were able to provide proper and substantiated evidence for their views and beliefs, and so in this case, I tended to agree with them wholeheartedly, as they didn’t look foolish and ignorant.
Growing up, my mom would always say, “knowledge is power,” and the same holds true here. Getting angry about politics on Facebook doesn’t do the world any good, especially when it involves posting a single-sided argument without any substantiation. To argue a point implies the willingness to listen to another side, and even more so, the willingness to be changed, to be respectful, and to even agree to disagree should change not be possible. Any opinion is extraordinarily personal, and often the reasons behind them run deep; as my CPE supervisor would say, everything means something, and I would believe this even applies to politics, as politics extend beyond their own sphere into the personal lives of everyday human beings. This is perhaps why heated discussions over various issues ranging from women’s rights to the definition of marriage run so deep; it isn’t just about those issues, but about what those issues represent to a particular person on a particular day and time.
So bear this in mind – before you post a position and click post, think about whether this position represents the majority (or minority) of your readers and friends, and whether what it represents might hurt those reading your wall/tweets/feeds whether you intend it to or not. Further, what you post should be substantiated, and you should be able to substantiate it further should someone ask. “Shooting from the hip” is unacceptable, and if that is the sole means by which a political point is dealt with then posting should be held back entirely.
Politics are a wonderful part of our country’s judicial and free expression system, and yet, if a person deals with politics with hostility and anger with the expectation that others will respond positively, they are sorely mistaken and foolishly delusional. Anger will not inspire change, nor will it positively impact a political system. Anger only inspires further anger and hostility among parties, whether they agree or disagree; what is more, anger does not inspire change of any kind, nor does it encourage progress, in whatever manifestation that will come.
Anger fosters hate, hate encourages violence, and violence only perpetuates a cycle of misunderstanding, rumors and thereby halting any possible discussion discussion. Discussion won’t hurt humanity, if a willing spirit is present between the two sides. Anything in theory is possible, and yet as broken, faulted, fallen humans, laying down the sword of pride makes the changing of minds, opinions and hearts challenging or impossible. And yet, prayerfully and in the name of God, anything is possible.
I plead, think and discern your posts, whether they are political or faith-based, as they have the power to harm, alienate or wound another – especially if they make claims that corner a faith, political, ethnic, racial, or other group based on a broad brush stroke that is unsubstantiated, and based on information you have not and cannot fact check on a moment’s notice. Think about what you are posting and whether you would be willing to stake your life on it, because a simple post could change the way in which you are viewed by others, by the church, and by those you seek for the highest forms of respect. And those types of relationships cannot be regained easily, if at all.