BOYCOTT JCPENNEY! WE DON”T WANT TO THINK ABOUT GAY PEOPLE WHEN WE”RE SHOPPING FOR OUR MOM JEANS!
STOP FUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD! WE DON”T WANT TO THINK ABOUT POOR WOMEN WHILE WE RUN TO SAVE THE WORLD!
TAKE THE LOWE”S AD OFF THE MUSLIM PROGRAMMING! WE DON”T WANT TO THINK ABOUT…WE DON”T WANT TO THINK ABOUT–well, anything at all–WHILE WE ARE RECAULKING OUR TOILETS!!
*VOTE FOR NEWT!– “IF THEY”RE GOING TO DIE, THEY”D BETTER DO IT–AND DECREASE THE SURPLUS POPULATION…”
Yes, some of our political stump speeches lately are starting to sound a little Dickensian. However–the original Ebeneezer was a hyperbole of the darkest regions of our fallen human nature. This guy…well, this guy is the real embodiment of that darkness.
But it isn’t just the Newts that are getting louder and angrier by the day. It seems to be coming from every corner–eliminate the people who don’t look like us. We don’t want gay people associated with our shopping experience. Or Muslims connected with our home improvements. Or the basic needs of poor people creeping into our humanitarian efforts.
Hasn’t this always been the way? we say… this is nothing new, demonizing the “other” of the moment in order to further one’s own image, agenda or fortune. And yes, we’ve done it this way for centuries. Thing is, now we do it with Facebook. And Twitter. And massive media buys during the Super Bowl. The voices of hate, shame, fear, and self-promotion are not louder than they’ve ever been. But boy, they’ve got swifter feet right about now.
The good news–the voice of justice, compassion, and reason can run like the wind too. You’ve just got to voice it. Give it a body and a public witness. And sometimes…sometimes the way to do that is not to get sucked into the rhetoric on the screen. Yes, it is important to speak up, to be prophetic, to speak truth to power. But know when it’s going to be a real conversation, and when you are just, you know,”feeding the trolls.” Sometimes, your reasonable and just responses will fall on deaf ears, or just throw a match into a combustible atmosphere. Here are some good indications that you may not want to get drawn into a thread:
–The original post is written in all capital letters (see above)
–The post includes a link to an article that contains “OMG,” “WTF,” or a series of exclamation points !!! in the headline
–The discussion includes, refers to, or gives creedance to an email forward
–or, if your response is about to include something that you would never, ever say to someone’s face.
Sometimes, we must respond to craziness with truth. Sometimes a bit of righteous anger is called for. However…the internet can make raving lunatics of otherwise rational people. You included. Me too. Sometimes, we need to discern where our voice holds the most authority and, as a wise mentor of mine always said, “wait for the teaching moment.” Use your classroom, your boardroom, your pulpit or your writing platforms to ‘be the change you wish to see.’ Meanwhile, when you see something that makes you crazy, try this response:
“You are not the boss of me.”
Try it in your head first. Then, if the situation permits, maybe post it. Maybe not. But 9 times out of 10, just thinking it will make you feel better. You are not the boss of me, Mark Driscoll. You are not the boss of me, Million Moms. You are not the boss of me, Florida Family Coalition. And on and on. You are not the boss of me, Newt Gingrich. You are not the boss of me, internet. I am a real person with a voice, a soul, and yes, a computer. But I am first a person.
Stay classy, people. It’s an election year.
*Another disclaimer–i do not categorically proclaim all Republicans, or all conservatives to be evil or unjust. but beware conservatism that comes at the expense of the poor and vulnerable; and beware the preacher that speaks to your baser instincts. if you are voting or worshipping out of fear, or if you leave the church or booth feeling morally superior to your neighbor, you might be in trouble.