Social Media is not for the faint of heart.
This is typical of the responses I receive for disagreeing with “Christian”, “Conservative”, “Republicans” (this one, from a woman – please pardon the unladylike profanity):
“Well it’s seems your [sic] an asshole democrat who hates America !! but ok….Merry Christmas dickhead !!”
Poor thing. It appears that she has run out of facts and logic and must defend her position with raw emotion.
Examples of what NOT to do.
Regrettably, this tactic has become an acceptable norm on Facebook and other social media platforms. On can’t help but recognize that launching a personal attack is a method often used by our new President, during his campaign, and on his daily Twitter rants. This is one of the many reasons many Conservatives campaigned so vigorously against Donald Trump, and continue to condemn his character.
The Founders of our Republic recognized that an admirable, moral, sober character is vital in the consideration of the qualifications for the highest office in the land. When the person who represents US to the world relies on ego, vitriol, and vengeance to portray his opinions, the damaging effects will spread like cancer.
Recently, someone who didn’t bother to read an article in a series titled Quantum Physics of Prayer I published about the scientific proof for prayer, accused me of misappropriating the numerous scriptures I provided to support my motivation, repeatedly pointing out that “this is what cults do”. He challenged my position, again and again, without reading the article. The “discussion” became so repetitive and unproductive that I deleted the thread to avoid hard feelings.
Does anyone else just look at their Facebook feed and cry out, “Since when does having a different opinion mean everyone who disagrees with you is wrong?!”
Psychologists suggest that people who attack out of defensiveness are responding because they feel that their position has been threatened. This indicates that, perhaps, they are not as secure in their opinion as they believe.
Acting defensively is a common human behavior. The brain’s primary function is to protect. When talking to people, if they feel psychologically safe with you, you might be able to have a rational conversation with them. If their brain detects a possible threat, it will trigger a protective response. They will either shut down or launch a counterattack. – from Five Tips for Easing a Person’s Defensiveness
Founding Fathers’ Admonitions
In Federalist 10, “Publius” – a pseudonym for the authors John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton expressed their concerns for disunity:
The latent causes of faction are…sown in the nature of man; and we see them every where brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning Government and many other points…; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other description whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have in turn divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other, than to co-operate for their common good. – from The Founders ‘ View of Character in the Presidency
As President Abraham Lincoln stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We must seek out, acknowledge, and celebrate common ground in our debates if we hope to remain the United States.
Our Founders go on, in Federalist 51, to declare the necessity of superior character in our representatives:
As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. (ibid.)
Federalist 71 proclaims:
The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust [sic] the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests. – (ibid.)
And, finally, by Scott R. Stripling, the author of The Founders’ View of Character in the Presidency:
It is particularly instructive to read Washington’s comments upon “public approval ratings,” at a time when politicians seem to “govern” merely according to polls, which can be said to reflect the desires, passions, and interests of a small segment of the people only at a given time, Concerning the themes of public approbation and censure, and virtue and popularity, Washington wrote that “nothing in human life, can afford a liberal mind, more rational and exquisite satisfaction, than the approbation of a wise, a great and virtuous man.” That is, not the approbation of the people, but the approbation of the wise, is the source of his satisfaction.
2 Peter 1:5 reiterates the importance of virtue in leaders of all kinds:
“make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control”
While it is vital in debates regarding important and sensitive subjects like politics and religion to inform, educate and correct misconceptions pertaining to the facts of the argument, as a new Facebook friend gently reminded me,
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
Let’s find and contribute to the harmonies of social discourse as we recognize that social media is an instrument of both discernment and encouragement. Ephesians 4:29 advises:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
If you would like to read more about the art of civil debate, please read Political Debate – Are We Winning the Battles and Losing the War?