By now the whole world knows that President Trump contracted the Corona virus. It was not a surprise to level headed, rational thinking people. But to others in the media it was as if Christmas came early. It was as if they were waiting for it to happen so that they could pounce on him in an “altogether told you so” moment. Their response is just one more indication of how far some in our society have fallen into darkness. I don’t know how anyone could ever trust these individuals again to report on any subject, especially politics. As of today these people have kept their jobs. They continue to report in a way that seeks to divide us further. How do we deal with people who celebrate the sickness of another human? Jim Denison of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture does a great job of how we should respond. He describes it this way: https://www.christianheadlines.com/columnists/denison-forum/how-president-trumps-critics-have-responded-to-his-illness-three-sources-of-incivility-and-three-invitations-for-christians.html
In Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes: “To be sure, many elections in the past have been raw, rude, and raucous in their rhetoric. That is part of the competitive nature of electoral politics. But something new is happening, the sense that the other side is less than fully human, that its supporters are not part of the same moral community as us, that somehow their sensibilities are alien and threatening, as if they were not the opposition within a political arena, but the enemy, full stop.”
Rabbi Sacks cites three factors that explain the depth of our divisiveness.
One: The deepening individualism of Western society since the 1960s. When we were facing the Great Depression and two world wars, our external threats and financial challenges united us against common enemies. Recent decades of relative peace have atrophied such unity.
Two: The “narrowcasting” effect of the internet. Previously, news came to us through networks that presented a broad range of opinions and held to journalistic standards based on balance and truth in reporting. Sacks laments that we have now moved from “broadcasting” to “narrowcasting,” which he defines as “news filtered to reflect our given interest and political stance.” Such reporting strengthens our confirmation bias, the subliminal desire to see our beliefs ratified. Studies have shown that associating with people who share our views makes us progressively more extreme in these views.
Three: The “disinhibition effect.” The new media gives everyone a microphone. The best way to communicate is face-to-face; the worst way is for communication to be anonymous, invisible, and unregulated. But the latter describes the way 3.5 billion people communicate every day.
Sacks comments: “I can simply say what I feel better for having said, without consideration or restraint. This is not the normal logic of communication, which is to inform, persuade, or convince. Rather, this is communication as primal therapy, and it helps create the anger it then expresses and amplifies.”
Three opportunities for God's people
As children of the God who is love (1 John 4:8), we should be a model of civility in a divisive day. The good news is that the faith we follow holds the answer to all three sources of such divisiveness. Individualism is countered by the unity we find in Jesus. In him, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female” (Galatians 3:28). When last did worshiping Jesus draw you closer to someone with whom you disagree? Confirmation bias is countered by submitting to the truth and authority of God’s word, even (and especially) when it disagrees with our opinions. Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). When last did reading the Bible change your mind and heart? The disinhibition of social media is countered by the grace of Jesus: “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). When we know that we are pardoned sinners, we are motivated to pardon other sinners. When last did you pray for someone whose actions or opinions angered you? Will you today?
Serving the Savior,
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