Well, I’ve got to be honest, it’s been one of those weeks where I feel weary. My guess is I’m not alone in this one. A lot of hard things have happened in our country and in our city and in the day-to-day lives of people I care about. It felt like one of those weeks where I heard one yucky story after another, and where I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear anymore. And it was one of those weeks where people started to wear on me, or something.
A gunmen attacks an unarmed soldier in Ottawa. It’s heart-breaking, and it’s scary. And then there are the Facebook posts: “If you don’t like this country – go home! Like if you agree!” And people liked it – they surely did.
Our municipal election was happening, and I was part of an online group that seemed to get nastier and nastier. People saying terrible things about people they had never met, sweeping statements about the character of candidates, sometimes downright lies…I would just stare in shock some days as I read words written by people who I’m certain are great people in real life, but were awfully internet-cruel.
And then one of my favourite radio hosts declares that he’s been unjustly fired because of biases against his personal sexual tastes – and without even hearing a hint of the other side, thousands of people jump to his defense and lambaste his employers and his accusers. Our country united in grief just a few days before is divided over a radio show host. “How dare the CBC do this??” “We love you Jian! “ “You said it first so your story must be TRUE!!” I watched online comments sections like a car accident from which I couldn’t turn away.
(As an aside, while I reserve judgement until we know the full story, I will say this: If a guy admits that he gets off on punching a woman in the face, whether or not it’s consensual – I no longer find his voice soothing on the radio).
In the midst of all this, someone shared a status of a guy dressed as the football player Ray Rice (of beating-up-his-girlfriend-in-an-elevator fame…) standing next to a girl sporting a fake black eye – as a cute couple’s Hallowe’en costume. The disgusted caption was “I give up on people.”
Finally, I found something on the internet with which I could agree!
Sometimes, I just don’t get it. And this was one of those weeks where I felt just like that: “I give up on people!” I give up on people verbally attacking people they don’t know on a Facebook page. I give up on people judging a whole faith by the actions of one deranged gunman. I give up on people justifying violence against women because they like a radio talk show. Ugh. What is wrong with us???
Then, even as I type, I pause and hear my own voice. My own judgemental voice condemning people I don’t know. My own voice saying “How can people be so stupid?” My own voice saying “Why can’t people think like me?” And, well, isn’t that where the problem starts?
Then I hear another voice – a voice of wisdom that I heard this week. The question was asked how we find the space in our hearts to truly love others. “It begins,” he said, “at the foot of the cross. It begins when we picture ourselves there and see our own selves at Jesus’ feet, with all the ways we fail, all the things we’ve messed up, all the things we try to hide – and realize Jesus is on the cross for us still.” If I may summarize – it begins when we see the One who has not given up on us.
Thank God, he has never given up on me. Who on earth am I to give up on the human race?
Maybe, instead, I’ll just give up reading comment threads…