I read an interesting article today about the various angles of hypocrisy (spoiler: there are plenty) swirling around some NBA players and their decision not to get vaccinated. It points fingers at all sides of the argument, not partisan toward anyone. And, honestly, it was refreshing.
The thought that stuck out as I read it was, “this seems to really be what is going on”.
So much of our conversation today seems to be an exercise in missing the point. We aim over or under it to either boost our own position or undermine others’. And it isn’t helpful.
Talking About Reality
One of the great gifts of science fiction novels and movies is they show us the deep dangers in missing the point.
When we have a skewed view of reality, we follow that skew into deeper and deeper levels of unhealth. An awful perspective leads to awful actions. Moral superiority leads to justifying all manner of evil. When how we feel or how we beat others becomes our main focus, the thing that gets lost in the shuffle is a true desire for the truth. And the more we lose that desire, the harder it is to recognize truth. We simply aren’t looking for it.
I fear we have become kind of allergic to truth seeking. Truth is an acquired taste and anything that takes time and sacrifice seems like an attack on our very being. So, we take important issues and turn them into platitudes. We take obstacles and reframe them as consequences of others’ sins rather than our own. We get increasingly frustrated that others don’t see things our way while we decrease in our own ability to see things from theirs.
The Way Back
How do we get back to reality?
Without a hard shift, we are going to drift further and further from anything productive or helpful. We are going to lose our ability to discern, to listen, to love. The future looks like remaking those things in our own image – discernment becomes agreement, we listen only to that which is parroted back to us, and to love means to be what I want you to be.
Like most things, the beginning is humility. It is so hard to accept that we are not the only thing in the universe. Nor the best thing. That we need one another. In today’s world, such an idea seems like it minimizes peoples’ worth. But humility actually enhances our worth. Seeing things truly allows us to align with our part in it. And the part of others. And to see value in all of it.
We need to be challenged. We need to have our mind changed. We need to adopt a different perspective. When was the last time you changed your mind about something? We are all engaged in trench warfare, digging deeper and deeper into our predispositions. And the real casualty is our own learning.
Learning is an essential part of growing as an individual. When we close ourselves off from learning, we close ourselves off.
We all get this and we all understand it. But here’s the rub. We read things like this and think about how “they” need to learn. It is others who aren’t doing this well. If “they” heed this advice, we’d all be better off. We are assuming our own superiority.
And so we are a society talking down to one another, talking around issues. We are expressing feeling as fact and reframing fact according to our idea of relevance.
It is hard for me to think about conversations centered on vaccinations or abortion, taxation or the impact of Christian mission. I bring so much into the conversation. And it often feels I am talking about something other than Christian mission – like my own hurt with the church. I am talking about something other than the issue at hand – like my own frustration with people who think differently than me.
And as soon as I get on that track, the alternative issue takes over. And the true core of what is going on, of what the thing is about, gets lost in the avalanche of my emotion and bias.
It is time to return to a posture of learning. To talk about what is really there, not just jump on the tide of what everyone else is saying. Not just reinforce my current disposition. Not just defend my emotions. But search to discover the truth as best as I can.