These past few months my Facebook feed has felt like theatre. Awash with a wild combination of varied opinion and commentary on several big issues that have made national news, I’ve felt a hostility in the online landscape. Friends and acquaintances alike have bantered and argued and riled opposing opinions with fury, and I began to wonder: When did we all stop being kind?
I wonder if you’ve been asking that too? If you’ve seen the fire spewed in words across screens, our faces hidden from connection and accountability as we see and share 140 word blips that air our case, ready to critique or defend at the touch of the keypad? We live in a world where we have the means to literally shout from the rooftops every thought we have, every moment we have it. But should we?
My girls are paying attention to the news, to election coverage, to the way Christians respond to various topics. They see the conversations swirling and they’ve had big questions for me. Its been a great springboard for us to talk about public discourse, communication on social media and how our words matter…wherever we use them, whether online or in real life.
I want to teach them how to engage with all the “sides” of an argument and how to communicate wisely and winsomely now, and as they grow into adults. I’ve asked them, “With so many people saying things that are right, is that enough? Isn’t that all that matters?” No. While our words should always be truthful, I also want to teach my girls that there is a time and a place for them. That some conversations are best had behind closed doors, or around a table of trusted hearts, where questions can be asked and answered slowly and intentionally.
I want them to know that when the hard conversations come, when disagreements abound (and oh, they will!) that the squeeze of a hand, the curve of a smile, a tear of understanding all count towards tying hearts together beyond conflict. I want them to know that when they say hard things and have hard conversations, it isn’t just about getting their words out in the open for all to see, or to sound off about their opinion, but about going through their words with someone they care about.
Our motivations to share determine the outcome of our conversations.
When you share today, are your words about drawing others into greater community and understanding, or simply about venting? Do they promote peace and unity or tear down and destroy? To they honor the person with whom you are speaking, even if you disagree?
Remember Proverbs 16:23: “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction”
Blessings to you today as we seek to pursue peace and wisdom together,