This political season has been unpleasant and that is an understatement. As I have taken my first opportunity to vote, I am thinking about how this election cycle has affected me. It has been outright shocking to see what has been said. Not only to me, but as I talk with friends, I’ve heard more and more about those who have been yelled at, cursed at, bullied, and belittled by those who they would have never expected to be hurt by. I am sad to say that because of one particularly harsh interaction, I was in tears on the phone with my mom. That is not fun to admit or something I would ever normally share, but this 2016 election has just been surprisingly emotional in ways I did not expect. I have been unfriended on social media by friends and family. I’ve been pretty quiet since that bad experience at the very beginning of the year. I’ve taken that time of “social media silence” to read and listen and not participate in the internet arguments and in the end I do not regret that. And I am not here today to change that. I am not here to talk who to vote for or to try to change opinions. But, I am here looking toward November 8th and looking to the after of it all. I am looking toward love. How I will still love the people that took out their frustrations and political rage on me. I’ve been hard pressed to love people during this election season. Especially those who I did not agree with. I have done my fair share of thinking about how anyone could support that person or think this or defend that. But almost every day I have had to think about the impact of my words. I have had to fight with myself to know the facts, to speak when there was genuine interest in differing opinions, and to know when to remain silent. I’ve had to think about the impact of words tossed out from behind a computer screen and what it did to me and what it has done divisively to us all.
If I had to generalize, I would say we have all probably been in a social media argument this year that related to politics and it probably was not pleasant.
I have been hard pressed to love and to see others as people who long to be heard, valued, and loved just like I long to be heard, valued, and loved. I hope that as we head toward November 8th, that whoever wins, we love each other. I don’t say that tritely. I think that we, myself included, have tossed aside loving our family and friends in favor of trying to be heard loudest over any and everyone else. But I hope that by the time I see those who used social media to hurt me, that I have the grace (and lots of duct tape covering my mouth) to keep me forgiving and forgiving, even when forgiveness wasn’t asked for.
Man, this election has really not been a good time. It been some of the worst interactions I’ve ever experienced with people I love and trust. It’s hard to be hurt by people you love. But the point is:
As we head into the election, remember that as important as politics feels (and as someone studying political science/history, believe me, it feels important) and as badly as you’d like to scream at someone who doesn’t hold your same opinion, consider that they are a human being. Consider that your words can hurt and bring pain. Remember that what you say in the heat of an argument can’t so easily be taken back. Remember, whoever wins, that the words you say on social media are being read and felt by real people that you have a relationship with. Be kind and caring to those you love. Be kind and gracious to those you don’t know. Speak truth with love. Remember how we are all created in the image of God and how Christ points us to love. Remember that sometimes silence is wise. Remind yourself to love other people, even when you’ve got to fight the urge to prove your point. Please be kind, because no matter the politics, the words you say have power and they can either give life or take it.
Speak with love and let your actions on and outside of social media speak to that love.