Friends . . . Actually

Years ago, my decisions about who my friends were or were not were more simply made. I simply avoided you if you said or did things that I found disturbing.

You would think that the same principle would be involved in social media. I fully understand that it can be. I see posts all the time where people “unfriend” others and, if pushed hard enough, completely leave FaceBook or whatever their platform of choice is.

FullSizeRenderI’ve “unfriended” a few people in the past. To date, my standard has been to unfriend anyone who exhibits hate and discrimination in their personal posts. Oh, and anyone who has a fascination with the “F” bomb or taking God’s name in vain. (“OMG! Addicts,” you’re nearing the edge.)  I am “friends” with a wide array of individuals — many of them sensitive to such rubbish. Others are young and losing their innocence to what our greater society has begun to find acceptable. Enlightenment never looked so dark. I don’t choose for my internet spaces to be the place where they get further exposure to such things.

I am close to “unfriending” some others of you. You’re pushing the line by reposting things that you haven’t checked out and that are largely false or misleading. Just writing the word “Truth” by those posts doesn’t make them true. Others of you are posting things that do have truth at their base. However, by watching what you post day after day, I have to wonder if you choose to feature only stories that will escalate violence and hatred. If I unfriend you, it won’t be because of your view of what is right and wrong, but only because of the way your actions are perpetuating bad sentiment and behavior among others.

Because of my life experience, I have been honored to form friendships among diverse groups of people. Politically, racially, ethnically, spiritually. I have been stretched by that diversity and I am grateful. But lest you think that you are on the “right” side of my friend set and that you’re safe from the point I’m trying to make, I want to be clear that I’ve found people on both sides of the dividing line. The desire to incite negative outcomes seems to be an equal opportunity malady. I am not immune either.

I strongly believe that unfriending any of you (except for those who violate my standards about the personal bile and profanity) is not the best answer. No, I’m not keeping you on as friends because I think I can change you. I need my perspective to be broad. I need to have as friends those who think differently, see differently, and choose differently than I do. You make me uncomfortable sometimes. But that’s the point. I see goodness in you. And I hope you can look past my multitude of failings. Friends do that.

In fact, some of the discomfort you’ve blessed me with has caused me to pause and reconsider my position on some things. I’ve changed as a result. Thank you. Other things I don’t agree with have convinced me that I need to find ways to better understand you, because the ideas you are posting aren’t doing it.

My plea to you, my friend, is to be responsible. No matter how badly you see and know an injustice to be, remember that we, as God’s children, as peacemakers, are to be a peculiar people. Don’t escalate violence. Talk. Talk loudly if you must, but respectfully. March peacefully. Help bring change to this broken world. But please help stop this vicious cycle of retaliation and justification of the unholy — from both sides.

I say this as one friend to another.

Quiet Voices – Strong Voices

I struggle with loud.

Loud music. Loud mufflers. Loud conversations.

I struggle with setting.

I don’t understand and, frankly don’t appreciate, responsible adults who lack respect and who talk whenever and wherever the fancy strikes them. At the back of my church during worship. During classes when teachers are desperately trying to use time wisely. At times when the speaker lacks knowledge of the subject matter or a sensitivity to those who can hear her voice.

But that’s my struggle.

IMG_0978I am fascinated by the quiet voice that captures our attention. The words I lean toward to make sure I don’t miss one. The thoughts shared from someone who has carefully groomed the words. The tone that carries a respect for all those close by and an awe for things greater than ourselves.

Despite their quietness, these are the voices that speak to me. These are the thought leaders who command the attention of far more individuals than they ever imagined. Their admonition and their encouragement crowd out the negativity and the violence of our age.

Quiet. Yet, they speak.

We all need to speak. Quietly. Strongly. Whenever we see wrong, we need to add our voice to the other quiet voices that will be listened to. The loud, the boisterous, the profane will grab momentary notoriety. But ultimately they will be dismissed.

Stand up. Share your thoughts quietly. Whisper or write them down if you must. But speak. You are the strength of all things good in the world.