There is no fear in love. —1 John 4:18
If I had to choose one adjective to describe our society right now, it would be “terrified.” Those of us who are or know undocumented workers and refugees, say we’re terrified of what’s shaping up in the Trump Administration. But no more terrified than those of us who defend a vote for the President because we feared would have happened under a Sanders or Clinton Administration. It seems that everyone’s new normal is fear, we’re just scared for different reasons. Some of us fear deportation, others fear Islamic extremism. Some of us fear homophobes and bigotry, others of us fear the loss of Christian freedom and tradition. Whether we should feel afraid isn’t my point. Real or imagined, fears on the left feel the same way as fears on the right. And the unfortunate overreaction from all sides has been as immediate as it has been extreme.
Social media has evidently changed the formula for appropriate behavior. We read something we don’t like or hear something we feel is unfair and we’re compelled to post ASAP! Get our opinion out there before more people are led astray, right?
We claim to deplore terrorism, but then employ one of its more subtle forms, the elitist grenade. Depending on who wins the most recent election, half the country says “We’re moving to Canada.” We frame taunts with extreme words like fascists, haters, or deplorables. We make predictions of an uncertain future with terms that used to be reserved for Bible studies about the Apocalypse. We try to mask our fears with clever tweets or late-night sarcasm, but our collective fear only deepens. Our culture has not only lost its sense of decency but the ability to simply respect someone else’s view without calling them out.
Yep, our opinion about a particular issue gives the world much more clarity about us than it does about the issue. We’re scared. And since social media is the perfect fear accelerator, it will continue to snowball that direction, unless a few of us determine to show some leadership and take our foot off the pedal. Just calm down, take a deep breath and practice what we used to preach.