Everything we read impacts us. Labels of ingredients determine what we buy. Newspaper articles lead us to form opinions. Opinion pieces encourage us to agree or disagree, forming our own opinions. Media, from articles to circulars offer us information, ideas, input for us to process and include in our thinking and in our actions (or inactions). It all impacts us.
I’d planned to share with you today why I’m writing what I’m writing where I’m writing it. My new novel is based on a spiritual concept—God sees the big picture and we don’t, so our trust, even when things seem out of kilter, needs to rest in Him. Many who read the story won’t see that, but it’s there and I hope they’ll feel it. We often recognize things at soul level while not consciously aware of them. It’s published in a collection of secular novels. To reach others, we must go where they are, right?
So that was my plan. But then my husband mentioned an article he was reading and the disturbing comments on it left by others, and my plan changed. The more he read aloud to me, the sadder, more upset, and more disheartened I became. Let me explain . . .
The article was about Jep Robertson, a Duck Dynasty family member. While hunting, Jep had a seizure and nearly died. He’s in the hospital recovering, and glad to be alive.
What was disturbing in the comments? There were two kinds. Those written by people wishing him a speedy recovery, wishing him well. And those attacking him, his family, his faith, and wishing him and his family dead.
Yes, you read that right. Wishing him dead.
I cannot tell you how mean-spirited and vile some of these comments were, or how troubling it was to read them. I hope Jep and his family do not. Truly, I fear if they did, they wouldn’t read anything in them that they haven’t seen and read countless times before—and isn’t that just the saddest commentary of all? Not against that family, but against us as a people.
We all know that there’s been a massive movement to divide and conquer, to pit one segment of us against another segment of us on any and all fronts. Those who are our purported leaders and our enemies have worked equally hard at that, and many among us not tagged as either have worked just as hard for their own purposes. Attacks against our traditions and values, morals and standards, have pushed the things we know to be good further away and drawn closer concepts like win at any costs, lie until the lies are perceived as truths. Evil over good.
This didn’t just start. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. The difference has been that in the last couple of decades, we’ve collectively shunned bad and remained silent and that allowed ill to blossom and grow unchecked. Ignorance replaces knowledge in that void, and what we condone, we own. And that’s sad.
Losing our collective identity is disheartening. It’s a tragic loss. And that there are those who think it’s perfectly okay to leave comments wishing others dead, glad that they’re having health problems and hoping they’re worse tells you the fabric of us as a people isn’t just torn, it’s frayed and falling apart.
I came to understand that, and other individuals who are a part of the collective we have, too. When we reach that point of recognition, we have to make a decision: to be part of the solution or part of the problem.
The solution entails seeking first to understand. Why would people wish others dead? Wish them ill? Spew hatred in ways like this? There could be any or many of a hundred reasons, but one thing became clear: In the absence of civility and traditions and values, we lose our humanity.
These comments, an isis cage filled with Christian women being sold as slaves, proves it. There is evidence all around us that this is the case on all fronts. Collectively, we’re in deep trouble. Which means in ways we can, which are different for us all, we must do what we can, when we can, where we can, to be examples others can observe and follow. It means we must not forget our humanity and not relegate what binds us together to a position deemed insignificant.
If we seek first to understand, and if we hold fast to what we believe, and we practice it, then our humanity remains intact. So how exactly do we do that?
We lean not to our own understanding. Our view is restricted. But we know there is a bigger, broader view, and it remains steadfast and true. We reach it—Him—through prayer.
So we first seek to understand and then we pray. For Jep and his family, for those who commented wishing him and his family well, and for those who left the hate-filled comments. We don’t know why they’re so angry and hurtful or what burdens are on their hearts. We don’t know what’s twisted their minds so that they’ve lost civility and their humanity, but we do know who is capable of healing those breaches. There is no stronger shield or weapon.
In books, we read and write about people who restore and heal and build bridges in broken people and places and things. We call them heroes. In life, we call them friends, family, and neighbors.
To experience civility and humanity, we must live it and be examples of it. We seek to understand and we pray, then conduct ourselves with civility and our humanity intact and on display from the heart out. That nurtures it in society, mends our fabric.
I hope that we will, because we do own what we condone.
I love books or I wouldn’t read or write books, but it’s so very clear that all we read impacts us. Whether it’s a positive or negative impact is our choice. I understand that, and I pray we make wise choices.
Humanity is counting on us…