Every once in a while in my social media feeds, something pops up that falls far outside the nice, safe walls I’ve built to keep out all of those people.
You know the sort.
The ones that post all those obviously mistaken political views.
The Facebook evangelists filling your feed with combative sermons, whether they be Christian or atheist.
Unfriending or blocking are easy solutions. And cowardly ones.
Yesterday, I saw a group on social media posting about a “dress up in drag” event on a Pacific military base. The poster and the comments all spoke of how disgusting this event was, and how WW2 vets who fought to secure that particular land must be furious that such a thing is taking place.
I thought back to the lifestyles of my military counterparts when I was stationed there. About some of what is accepted as “the way it is” outside the gate on Friday or Saturday nights. And I thought, “Why are we so focused on this one topic when–if we’re honest–there are a slew of reasons to be concerned?”
Of course, I know, it’s because some sins are ewwy and super gross. And others, well, boys will be boys.
So I posted this comment:
Within minutes, after a snarky comment about sex scandals going on in the Air Force, the group blocked my ability to respond and kicked me from the page.
I didn’t even disagree with them; I just called their exclusive focus into question. And that was apparently too much.
This got me thinking. If we’re going to discuss religion or politics, why silence a dissenting voice? What purpose does it serve to insulate and isolate ourselves into safe little bubbles of like thought?
Why not engage those who disagree? If a particular case or point of view is so good, then make it, and let it be compelling on its own.
When all I hear are voices of agreement, I lose sight of the bigger picture. I become blinded to problems and flaws that are easily glossed over in the chorus of consensus. Vision and creativity are stifled; there’s no need to think outside the box because everything is just fine inside it.
That’s why it’s so crucial to be willing to listen to another point of view, even if–especially if–the message isn’t what I want to hear.
This shortsightedness can happen in business, in the workplace, or in any social group. But most often, I’ve seen it take place among the religious and the political. We can be so invested in the truth and the rightness of our cause that we sometimes become willing to overlook the flaws in our logic, the missing facts in oversensationalized stories, and the nuances of navigating a stormy sea of religious and political debates.
It’s human nature to find refuge and security by surrounding ourselves with those who see things the same way. That’s the basis for societies.
But we have to be open enough to consider the views of an outsider, or to allow a second thought about whether we’re entirely correct in our viewpoint.
This is especially true of the church. While I’m not advocating picking theological positions by polling data, I’m saying we need to be aware of what is taking place outside the safe world of all things labelled ‘Christian.’
Hiding behind walls to keep out the opposition doesn’t make us right. It makes us childish. Kids holding our hands tightly over our ears, yelling, “I can’t hear you! La la la la la!”
If we only listen to those who agree with us, we’re on a path to ignorance and irrelevance, stagnant water in a swamp instead of living water flowing out to the world.