If you scroll through Twitter or Facebook you’ll think you live in the most hateful, divisive place in the world. Our problem is that we suffer the consequences of painting with the widest brush possible, the broad strokes of presumptive guilt on large segments of the population.
Every time a jackass says or does something stupid, the other side will leap to conclusions, lumping everyone even close to his demographic into the same pen of donkeys.
The social media megaphone is loudest when its close to home.
40 days to complete cynicism
Pessimism is now mainstreamed, as we are reminded of past sins, and no one is happy until everyone is ashamed themselves.
If you spend a significant of time consuming those opinions, you’ll start to believe we are indeed xenophobic, homophobic, narrow-minded and led by narcissists . Slowly, you’ll start to feel the anger, living it out.
You’ll become a cynic. You’ll find that the skies will seem a little darker. You’ll trust your neighbors a little less. Your idea of the future will be decidedly negative.
The foreboding figures that are presented in the media seem to be more out of a Hitchcock movie than reality. Both sides are much better at painting the other side in ugly shades rather than presenting their vision of the future.
I think if reality was anywhere near what political ads claimed, there would be no hope. If I believed the messages, I should just draw the shades, gather together friends and family, and divvy up our meager cracker supply and wait out our days.
A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in Gallup’s 18-year history asking U.S. adults how proud they are to be Americans, fewer than a majority say they are “extremely proud.” Currently, 47% describe themselves this way, down from 51% in 2017 and well below the peak of 70% in 2003.
Our negativity is corrosive.
Are things really that bad?
In America, more than 53 percent of people believe we are “on the wrong track.” And if you think that number is high and want to solely blame the current administration, consider this. Two years ago, the number was 65 percent dissatisfaction under a different administration. Both numbers are unbelievably pessimistic.
But consider this. Despite all our inner fighting, people from around the world are clamoring to live here here because of the freedom and opportunity we represent and model. According to Gallup, more than 150 million people would migrate to the U.S. if given a chance.
“Nearly 150 million people — or 4% of the world’s adult population — would move to the U.S. if they could. That figure is larger than the next four most popular destinations combined. If everyone who wanted to move to the U.S. had their way, the country’s total population would increase by almost 50%.”
It’s not perfect. But one thing I keep reminding myself is that we are an amazing mish-mash of people. We are not homogeneous. We don’t even have our definable culture. Like a big family at Thanksgiving, there will be disagreement. There might even be some mashed potato on the wall at the end of the evening, but we are family.
We also have freedom. And where freedom abounds, so does lawlessness… and stupidity.. It’s the way of man.
So, I’m trying to retrain my thoughts.
Think on these things
I recently reread these words from Philippians: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I was struck by the last sentence: “Think about such things.”
My thoughts and affections should be filled with much more than the troubles of this world. Yes there is grief. Yes there is sadness. Yes there is inequity, and hatred, and persecution. Yes there is hunger, and pain, and unfaithfulness. But….
“Think on these things.”
… the truth
… the noble
… the right
… the pure
… the lovely
… the admirable
Whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things. “And the God of peace will be with you.”
So my challenge, is for you to comment on one good thing that you see around you.