The good people at Our Sunday Visitor asked me for a few thoughts about surviving this election year, when we seem to be more polarized than ever. How do you not let all the pundits and pols get to you? How do you not reach through the screen and strangle people?
Here are a few ideas, particularly in the world of social media:
Put away the sword. As consumers of news, it seems, we never go into the media unarmed. But Jesus told his followers in Gethsemane, at a moment when they could have faced certain slaughter, “Put your sword back into its sheath” (Mt 26:52). Stop looking for a fight. Don’t see every issue, headline, sound bite, comment or opinion as a target waiting to be impaled or an idea that needs to be beheaded. It isn’t worth it.
Put another way, turn the other cheek. Don’t escalate.
So much of what we encounter in the media is, frankly, noise and spin — and so little of it amounts to anything more substantive than an excuse to fill airtime or feed the national appetite for outrage. There’s enough of that to go around. Don’t add to it.
It also helps to consider ourselves as more than just readers, consumers or commenters on the passing scene. We are Catholic Christians.
I’ll say that again: We are Catholic Christians.
We live to carry out the teachings of Jesus Christ, with fidelity and joy and, above all, sacrificial love. A familiar saying from the early days of the Church quotes a pagan, who marveled, “See how these Christians love one another.” He didn’t say, “See how these Christians shove one another.” As consumers of news and information — and as people who respond to it, comment on it, write about it — what we say and how we respond should reflect the One we follow.
It’s worth asking ourselves: Are we doing that? Is our response Christian?
I have more here.