When my youngest son is upstairs in our house, he wants someone up there with him. This is especially so when he is showering. The other day, I was on upstairs watch while he was in the shower. To pass the time, I was sitting on the bed and scrolling through Twitter. Up to that point, I was having a good day. The summer clouds were magnificent, I saw acts of kindness during the day, and my personal encounters with others were pleasant. The Positivity of the world was on display and all was Good.
When I opened up my Twitter feed, the Negativity of the world immediately spewed forth.
People say that we are a country divided. This is true. We always have been. Even our name indicates division. While we are “United,” our country is split into different “States.” Each state having its own constitution and government. Prior to us becoming a country, this land was divided into colonies. Our Constitution even had us divided by defining who were “people” and “persons” who have the protections of due process and enjoy the “Blessings of Liberty.” We fought a war over this concept. Women and people of color had to take to the streets to secure theses rights. This is a concept that we are still fighting about today, especially when corporations have more rights than then unborn or fellow humans who were not born in the “right” place.
Yes, we are divided, but this does not mean we must hate and totally dismiss one another. Many of our divisions, when examined, are so minor that we should care less if others disagree with our opinion. However, some of our politicians, church leaders, and corporations look to exploit these divisions for their own gain and to remain in power.
The stoking of the division is clear on social media. Just look at the tweets of our President and the replies that follow. Both sides are vile and hateful toward the other. We have dehumanized one another. We name-call and label those that we don’t agree with as right-wing racists or liberal anti-American socialists.
I must admit that I was sucked into the fray. There was a post by a high-profile Catholic radio host bashing fellow Catholics who seek more inclusion in the Church. He and those who posted replies called those whom they disagreed with “cafeteria Catholics”, “Catholics with a little c”, and *gasp* Methodists and Episcopalians. First of all, I don’t understand how someone who calls themselves a Catholic, which means universal, would object to inclusion. If I am not mistaken, Jesus broke bread with prostitutes, championed the poor, and healed to untouchables by touching them. Jesus railed against the “Law” and power…hell, he even overturned tables in the most sacred place of his time.
In my opinion, the real motivation for this name-calling and resistance is Fear and wanting to feel superior. They like the holier than thou feeling that comes with saying we are right and righteous because we attend Mass and follow Church law (at least the ones with which we agree). They are afraid of the much needed and long-overdue changes Pope Francis is trying to bring to the Church. They are afraid of the reunification of Christianity…which will happen if we can put aside our petty differences. They are afraid to admit that the “others” are just as holy as they are.
I jumped into the comments and blasted these folks. However, it did not make me feel better. I realize that I am guilty also. I am falling into the trap of Division and engaging in my own form of name-calling (see the preceding paragraph). Instead of getting into a Twitter fight, which accomplishes nothing positive, I should do the next right thing.
After engaging, the Good of the day was overshadowed by the negativity of a few minutes on Twitter. I deleted my comments, closed the app, and spent the rest of the evening with my family. I felt at Peace again.
Those people commenting on Twitter are not evil. They are people just like me. They have their opinions and beliefs. They, just like me, have been manipulated and used by those who want power and need us divided to maintain the status quo. I need to listen to what they have to say (some of which are good points), see it from their perspective, critique it, and take the good and leave the rest (like a good cafeteria Catholic).
We should do the same with ourselves and our “camps.” If we cannot be self-critical, we are no better than the ones who exploit our divisions. We do not live in an “all or nothing” world. We should not think and behave as if we do. We may be divided, but we are in this thing called Life together. Whether we like it or not, we need each other. Let’s learn from each other, respect each other, and cheer for each others’ success.