Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Standing Up (An Unabashed Rant)

I've already tipped my hand. People know I'm not an extreme political activist. I may as well take it just a little further, I suppose.

I'm not the person who will ever squash another person's right to free speech. I appreciate that about our country; I really do. So, if people on either end of the political spectrum want to rant about their discontent with the other end, that's fine with me. But I want to be able to exercise my own right to free speech, as well.

The problem lies in the fact that I have always been a person who is willing to speak up when I feel something is not right, regardless of what social rejection I may face for doing so. This has gotten me into trouble since the days of my youth. I tend to care about what I believe to be truth more than I care for popular opinion--which can be occasionally isolating.

It was interesting last night, in talking with my son, to find that he feels the same way. He also struggles with wanting to speak up when he feels something is not right, knowing that his opinions may bring rejection by his peers. He is 13. In most cases right now, aside from clear-cut issues of morality or basic health and safety, he still chooses to remain silent. I probably did, too, when I was 13, but less so when I was 16, less yet when I was 20. By this current age, popularity doesn't matter to me very much at all.

I guess I have grown accustomed to my role in life being one of controversy. I don't really fear confrontation, but I still dread it. For me, it seems inevitable, but it will never be something I love.

So here I go.

I have no interest in aligning myself with any political party because of all the ugliness that generally comes along for the ride. It is my opinion that many of my fellow Christians--in particular, the Republican Christians (or are they Christian Republicans?) who seem to overwhelmingly fill the pews of the churches I have attended over the years, have gone absolutely overboard when it comes to political criticism in this current administration. I can honestly never remember an administration where such toxic venom was so freely spewed toward individual leaders, to the point of creating 'jokes' calling for the leader's death.

Not everyone is so free to create or share this hate-speech first-hand, but so many are happy to chime in their support through the use of the "Like" button on Facebook.

Frankly, I'm embarrassed to be associated with that kind of 'coarse jesting.' Where is the discretion? Does a follower of Christ really think that spewing hateful language like that--even if they point out that it is supposed to be humor--is in keeping with Christ's teachings?

There is a church in the news right now that is creating a lot of bad press for themselves by encouraging their members to attend the funerals of known homosexuals so that they can loudly spout off rude comments about how those people are going to hell and how much God hates them and the like. The news media is in a frenzy and even other Christians are outraged and are joining Facebook groups to identify themselves with being against such behavior. But what is the difference between that kind of repulsive behavior and essentially making the same sort of remarks about our President? When we write, say or silently nod or click 'like' to things that imply or directly state a desire to see him dead and note how God probably doesn't know him, since he so clearly doesn't know God--really, how different is that from yelling out at a funeral? Is it more correct because the decibel level isn't as high? Is it more correct because it deals with political affiliation instead of sexual orientation?

I am not opposed to political jokes, really. I don't even care which side they disparage; if they are clever and done well, I can appreciate them. Here's one I heard during the Olympics that I found hilarious:

Q. Did you hear that the IOC has stripped away Lindsey Vonn's gold medal in the Downhill?

A. After studying the replays, they've decided to give it to Obama instead, because he has gone downhill even faster than her.

That's funny. I even repeated it to others a few times for laughs all around.

However, this one, posted by a Christian friend this week on FB and supported enthusiastically by many of my other Christian friends, I didn't find funny at all:

Dear Lord, This past year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze. My favorite actress, Farah Fawcett. My favorite singer, Michael Jackson. My favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Obama is my favorite president. Amen

I just don't see what business a Christ-follower has promoting something like that. Discretion. Common sense. Scripture!

A few months back, my daughter made a comment about a news article I was reading, in which some wacko had been unsuccessfully plotting to blow up the White House. My daughter chuckled and said that so-and-so (who will remain nameless here) would be happy if that happened. I realized she was serious. "Why do you think that so-and-so would be happy if the White House got blown up?" I asked, incredulous at her response.

"Well," she replied, without missing a beat, "probably President Obama would be in it and then he would be dead!" Then suddenly she hesitated, realizing that what she had just said might have sounded bad. "That's what so-and-so wants, right Mama?"

I had to explain to my daughter that just because a professing Christian for whom she has great respect seems to communicate that he/she has so much hatred for the President that he/she wishes he were dead, doesn't mean we should feel that way or talk that way. It just isn't Christ-like. She went away from the conversation confused, at best. Why is it that so many Christians she knows feel that this type of hate-speech is fine, and yet her mother says it is not?

Somebody explain this to me. Explain it to my daughter.


concretegodmother said...

wow, sherry, this is excellent. thank you for putting this into (bold) words. i'm linking to this post on mine.

Sherry C said...

thanks, cg. I have this blog linked to my facebook account and I've received quite a bit of negative flak for this post there. I appreciate your encouragement.

concretegodmother said...

they ARE taking you to task, aren't they? don't worry -- you're not alone. i'm seeing/hearing/witnessing the same venom you are. maybe they're all blessed to hang around higher minded souls, but i'm seeing a lot of what you refer to, both on fb and in email. keep the faith!

CML_Shearings said...

It's no wonder that Yeshua stayed away from political connections of His day. Human nature has not changed in 2000 years. Thanks for your thought-provoking posts, as always.