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Search and Destroy

April 20, 2015

One of the sad realities of our current age is that when someone, anyone, says something stupid or hurtful there is an immediate response across social media – calls to destroy the hapless speaker.  It no longer seems to be enough to out-shout them or force an apology; we now have to destroy them, their livelihood, and probably also their family.  This reaction spreads across the political and religious spectrum.

A few weeks ago a pizza-shop owner in Indiana made an ill-advised, off-the-cuff comment, one that I disagreed with, on the religious freedom law in her state and was forced by the angry response to shut down.  It wasn’t enough to scold her; there was a need to destroy her.  Of course, in a not-uncommon twist to this story, those who agreed with her launched a crowd-funding campaign that has, the last I looked, raised over $800,000.  We Christians are particularly good at that sort of counter-attack.  Remember the Chik-fil-A “eat a chicken sandwich for Jesus” day?

A short time later an ESPN reporter was caught on camera in a rude tirade against an employee of the company that towed her car.  ESPN, when the video came to light, properly suspended her but it seems as if that is not enough.  Social media is now a battle ground to make she sure never works anywhere ever again.

And now I see that a UNC professor is alleged to have said that the reason so many black students gain weight in college is because of racism.  Of course, another band of social media warriors is now fighting to get the guy fired.  In this case he never actually said, as reported, that this is a direct cause and effect thing but is seems that when people you disagree with need destroying shading the truth is OK.

A lot of people say a lot of stupid things.  I’ve made more than my share of comments I wish I could take back.  But things have changed.  The rising search and destroy attitude of debate in our culture, the new reality that whatever you say and wherever you are there is probably a camera rolling, and the ability of social media to make every stupid comment go instantly global has created a perfect storm for the destruction of those with whom we disagree.

So far the only response to this climate of destruction seems to be, like donating to a pizza parlor owner, a counterattack.  While there may be some degree of compassion to donating to the hapless young woman you agree with it results in simply ratcheting up the heat in such debates; not in changing anyone’s mind.

But what if grace governed our responses?   What if, instead of donating to someone who thinks exactly like us, we reached out to reporters making obnoxious statements?  To those with political or social views that make our skin crawl?  What if we allow ourselves to believe that people who say or do something stupid may still be loved by God and decide to treat them that way?  What if we accept that it is only the grace of God that keeps our own stupidity and biases from going public?  What if we lay down our arms and abandon the search and destroy response today’s culture calls us to?


From → Christianity

  1. Ken Aune permalink

    Hey, Tom.

    Again, a thought provoking piece. As often, I largely agree with you. My thought is this: “what if, in addition to donating to someone with whom we agree, we also reached out to….?”. Speaking the truth in love, being salt and light, includes both approaches.

  2. Thanks,Ken. I guess my concern really is that we all stop ONLY supporting those with whom we agree. It seems that every time one of these disputes fires up it ends with everyone choosing a side and supporting ONLY that side. This prolongs the “us vs. them” attitude that is so damaging to true communication in grace.

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