9 Oct 2014

because the rants tire us all..and the Word calls us to mind our words

When I saw the tag on facebook, honestly, I went "O no...".  There is this one-up-man-ship these days especially on the social media platforms. We challenge notions, question actions, and accuse so readily, and easily.

I enjoy learning and as a student and then a cleric I would raise questions. But I was always tentative, somewhat unsure... and even then, I was labeled a firebrand ! One generation later with a more learned populace we are assured of more lively debates and challenges. But somehow, the online exchanges leave me wary and weary.

It is a strange place in a way to find myself sounding like my elders of past, with thoughts such as -

I have eaten more salt than you
How much have you really experienced to qualify you to make such a judgment?

Yes, as youths, we felt asphyxiated when our elders threw such quick retorts back at us. We roll our eyes and count them lesser mortals for not being as exposed to ideas as we are. Youthful zeal and pride are often bedfellows I guess.

But is it just a function of growing older? Am I destined to calcify in my position and become impatient with the young uns?

So I did an exercise.

I took an area where strident voices have been heard and I tried to cross over to the other side. I imagined myself belonging to a misunderstood minority. I imagined struggling about which public toilet to use, how my head may turn and heart stop when certain words are overheard, how going to school, church, street can be constant reminders that I don't quite fit in....

 It turns out it wasn't altogether that difficult. Upon reflection, I realised why.

Firstly, in one sense, we all have experienced being on the outside. Rejection is almost universal a human experience. Granted, some experiences of rejection, name-calling, and worse lie beyond my scope of imagination and empathy. To read of abductions for the purpose of correcting behaviour is bizzare to me. But then, that's salt I haven't tasted. Would I order the abduction of my child if I was convinced she was so wrong she would end in eternal damnation and be ruined for life?

There are many things about ourselves, what we truly feel, think or will do, that we cannot be certain of. A religious commitment and outlook may proscribe some things; but then again, when crunch time comes, can we be so sure?

Further, I have chosen to live on the outside in some ways. The religious or spiritual person doesn't exactly square in a material-secular world. I have been called 'unreal, out-of-touch, holier-than-thou'... My gender has added to the mix too as leadership roles are not easily accorded to a woman (yes even today). 

Finally, I have been a victim before.

Is this why I am tired of the calling-out, standing-up, setting-right?

Listen, most of us have no idea and no business doing any of the above; because we are just going to walk away after a while. We go right back to our little lives filled with self-centred ambition and greed. Including me. This isn't to say we don't get into the fray at times. But here's the Word:

"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt..' ~ Colossians 4v6

This Word here about seasoned speech is not one of my favourites. It cuts too close for an extrovert with a gift of the gab (so they said). But it's in the Word, so it applies. It means simply, I must apply it. I am not always sure how; especially when I am tagged and I feel like I am expected to say something. As an older person I feel immense pressure to be wise and responsible - especially today!

So this online fracas is going to test how we apply this Word. Can we be polite? Can we look for what's good and throw that in the mix when we want to point out a weakness? Can we pull back from polarising and demonising? Surely for all the education, we can move away from the grandstanding?
After all, the truly learned are humble no?

May our hearts grow large with our minds while our mouths and keyboard skills be put to truly good use.

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